The F790 by Thinkware is a dash cam that errs on the side of simplicity. Instead of bundling every possible feature, like driver assistance, lane departure warnings and a touchscreen display, the F790 focuses on nailing the basics. To that end, it records in Full HD to the front and rear, has HDR and GPS, and a parking mode that can keen on eye on your car for up to 17 days.
Intended to be a front and rear dash cam that is a subtle as it is smart, the F790 does not have a display of any kind, and is primarily designed to be hardwired into your car, not powered by the 12V socket or a USB port. Features like Thinkware’s Super Night Vision 3.0 mean this dash cam is one that majors on video quality.
Thinkware F790: Specifications
Resolution: 1080p at 30fps (front and rear)
Voice control: No
Field of view: 140 degrees front / 160 degrees rear
Dimensions: 92 x 71.4 x 34.4 mm
Among the Thinkware F790’s key features are the fact it shoots Full HD with both the front and rear cameras. There’s also HDR for improving dynamic range, boosting detail in the dark shadows and bright highlights of video recordings, and integrated GPS for embedding speed and location data.
Two other stand-out features are Thinkware’s Super Night Vision 3.0 and Energy Saving Mode 2.0. The former uses low-light recording technology and HDR to improve nighttime recordings, while the latter is a mode where the camera will spring into life and start recording the moment it detects a collision while parked.
This parking mode can run for up to 17.5 days, Thinkware says, but requires a hard-wired connection to your car. This is something you might want to employ a professional to do, so that the (included) cables are neatly hidden behind the interior panels of your car.
Build and handling
We really like the design of the F790. It won’t win any beauty awards, but we think the lack of a distracting display is a good move by Thinkware – and so too are the F790’s buttons, which are clearly labeled and easy to press. It may sound like we’re stating the obvious here, but it’s still rare to find a dash cam where thought has been put into how it works as well as how it looks.
The dash cam slots into a dock which is then attached to the windscreen with an adhesive pad. The camera can be removed from the dock, but it’s quite difficult to do so. Thankfully you never really need to, as footage can be accessed by popping out the included 32GB microSD card or transferring the files to the Thinkware smartphone app via Wi-Fi.
Although a dock and cable for connecting to a car’s 12V lighter socket is available, this is primarily intended as a hardwired camera. And, although available on its own for $199/£199 (as of March 2023) in this instance the F790 is reviewed as a $230/£259 bundle that includes a rear-facing camera.
The F790 is quick and easy to set up (although we recommend hiring a professional if going down the hardwiring route), and very simple to use. It’s the type of dash cam that quietly gets on with its job, ready to spring into action and save footage the moment a collision is detected, or when you press the manual recording button.
Video quality is pretty good, but we feel the F790 is starting to show its age. Full HD is always welcome (especially for the rear camera, where many rivals are still 720p), but 1440p or even 4K at the front would be better. We’d also like to have seen a higher 60fps frame rate option.
That said, the footage produced here is still very good. Details like registration plates and road markings are sharp, exposure is well-balanced thanks to HDR, and nighttime recordings are also good.
The long-lasting parking mode is a standout feature here, and one that will no doubt appeal to drivers who regularly leave their car unattended in car parks for several days, or even a couple of weeks, at a time. Again, hardwiring and a professional installation is a must, especially if fitting the rear camera too.
Thinkware F790: Verdict
If a dash cam that looks factory-fitted appeals to you, then the Thinkware F790 is a good choice. Its lack of screen means it is small and can be almost entirely hidden behind the central rear-view mirror of any vehicle. Opt for the hardwired approach, and the dash cam will feel like another feature of your car, rather than an add-on accessory.
Video quality is good, thanks to HDR and impressive nighttime clarity, while the rear camera is nice and small but still features 1080p Full HD and a wide, 160-degree view.
As with just about all dash cams, Thinkware’s smartphone app is basic and a little clunky. It’s used for showing a live view of the camera (handy during installation), adjusting settings and transferring video to your phone, but you can also get away with not using it at all, if you prefer.
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