Thinkware F70 review: five years old, but it's still my pick of the budget dash cams

By sticking to the basics, the Thinkware F70 dash cam offers Full HD video and a compact design at an attractive price

Thinkware F70 dash cam
(Image: © Alistair Charlton)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Not every dash cam has to shoot in 4K. Nor do you need 4G connectivity, a large screen and a whole host of driver assistance functions. Sometimes, all you need is a dash cam like the Thinkware F70 – one that doesn’t cost too much, takes up very little space, and quietly gets on with the job of being a dash cam. If you want a simple dash cam from a well-known brand, the F70 neatly ticks that particular box.

Pros

  • +

    Compact design

  • +

    Low price

  • +

    No distracting display

Cons

  • -

    No integrated GPS

  • -

    Higher frame rate would be welcome

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If you’re looking for a small, simple and affordable dash cam from a reputable brand, this could well be it. The Thinkware F70 is a few years old now (it was first launched in 2018), but it still records in Full HD (also known as 1080p) and there’s a parking surveillance mode that’s enabled when the camera is hardwired to your vehicle.

The F70 costs less than $100, making it one best budget dash cams to come from a well-known brand. It’s also one of the most compact dash cams we’ve ever tested, taking up very little windshield space and hiding almost entirely behind the rear-view mirror.

Wifi and GPS are absent, so buyers will need to decide whether they want to spend a little more (and potentially fit a slightly larger dash cam) to gain those features.

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)

Thinkware F70 Specifications

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps

HDR: No

GPS: No

Voice control: No 

Field of view: 140 degrees

Display: No

Battery: No, 12V or hardwire powered

Parking mode: Yes (hardwire installation required)

Design and handling

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)

As we said in the introduction, this is one small dash cam. It’s not quite as compact as the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2, but the Thinkware F70 still manages to take up very little space. The windscreen mount is also relatively compact (although, again, not as small as the Garmin’s), and the whole unit should fit neatly behind the central mirror of most vehicles.

The windscreen mount slides onto the F70’s body with a satisfying click, then it’s just a case of sticking it to the screen with the integrated adhesive pad, adjusting the vertical angle of the camera, then tightening a plastic screw to keep it locked in place. The mount isn’t the last word in quality, with some rough edges, but it does the job and feels like it’ll last.

There’s no screen on the F70. I personally like this approach as it makes the dash cam smaller and removes the chance of being distracted while driving. Naturally, those who want a dash cam with a display will need to look elsewhere. The F70 has a manual record button on the side, for saving video when you’re not physically involved in a collision, and there’s a socket for connecting the optional GPS antenna (sold separately). There’s a microSD card slot (and an 8GB card included, plus a full-size SD card adaptor), and that’s your lot.

Regarding installation, the F70 provided for this review came with a hardwiring cable as standard. This attaches to the vehicle’s fuse box for a constant power supply. I  instead opted for Thinkware’s 12V cable, which is a no-cost alternative and plugs into the lighter socket. Thinkware also sells an OBD II cable instead, which can be an easier way to give the dash cam a constant source of power.

Performance

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)

Since this is such a simple dash cam, all that really matters is this section is video quality. The F70 shoots 1920 x 1080 full HD video at 30 frames per second through a 140-degree lens using a 2.1MP CMOS sensor.

In 2024 this is really the minimum you should expect from a dash cam. And while that doesn’t make me sound too enthusiastic, what it really means is the F70 ticks all of the basic boxes. If the resolution were 720p I would be concerned, and so too if the lens was narrower. As it is, the F70 records in adequate detail, capturing footage that would be clear enough if needed as evidence of an incident

There’s no infrared night vision, but instead the F70 automatically adjusts its brightness, color and noise cancellation to improve image clarity after dark. This works well enough, but if you drive a lot at night you might want to look at spending more on a dash cam with better low-light performance.

The F70 has a feature called Front Vehicle Departure Warning. When enabled, the dash cam beeps if it thinks you haven’t noticed the car in front has set off; like when the person behind beeps their horn because you’re daydreaming, but less embarrassing.

Other features – like speed camera alerts and plotting your driving routes on a map – are available, but only if you purchase Thinkware’s optional GPS antenna.

Verdict

(Image credit: Alistair Charlton)

The Thinkware F70 is a budget dash cam that gets the job done. It’s compact, very easy to install and simple to use; it doesn’t distract with unnecessary features, but still covers the basics. It also has a parking mode when hardwired, and there’s always the option to add a GPS antenna later if you decide you need one.

Video quality is good enough (unless you need excellent night vision) and from previous experience we know Thinkware is a dash cam brand you can trust.

Also consider…

(Image credit: Garmin)

The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is an even more compact dash cam at a similar price. It also records in Full HD and takes up very little space, and similarly lacks extra features like Wifi and GPS.

Read our automotive camera guides:

Best dash cams
Best front and rear dash cams  
Best Uber dash cams
Best backup camera

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair has been a journalist since 2011 and used to be Deputy Technology Editor at IBTimes  in London. His specialist tech subjects include smart home gadgets, phones, wearables, tablets and dashcams. He is the host of  The AutoChat Podcast.