Thinkware Q800 Pro dash cam is at the top of the company's dash cam range. Thinkware has an extensive range of automotive cameras, which even includes a toughened model for use with motorcycles, off-road vehicles and agricultural machines. The Q800 Pro, however, is squarely aimed at your car. It's packed with features, including hardwiring kits geared for professional installation.
The primary camera provides a 2.5K / 1440p resolution, and you can add an optional Full HD rear camera as well. Thinkware also claims to have enhanced performance in low light. There’s a comprehensive range of advanced road safety warning features included, and extensive WiFi smartphone app functionality. This is handy because of the other surprising feature – the Q800 Pro doesn’t have an integrated screen.
Thinkware Q800 Pro: Features
- 2.5K video shooting
- GPS for location tracking
- G sensor for collision detection
Resolution: 2.5K 2,560 x 1,440 maximum resolution
Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents
The Q800 PRO follows the current premium norm of shooting at a top 2.5K / 1440p resolution, which equates to 2,560 x 1,080 at 30 frames per second. There aren’t any other options. Footage is recorded at 16Mbits per second, so the bundled 16GB memory card will be enough for 136 minutes of video before looping starts overwriting the oldest files. The main lens has a relatively modest 140-degree angle of view, which is lower than many dash cams we’ve recently reviewed.
If you’ve purchased this product with the hardwiring option, it switches to parking mode when you turn off the ignition and electrical accessories in the car. The parking mode has a number of options. In Motion Detection mode, recording will be activated if a moving object or impact is detected. In Time Lapse mode, video is recorded at two frames per second for ten minutes. Energy Saving mode just records when impacts are detected. There’s also a battery cut protection feature which stops recording if the battery goes below a certain level, to prevent completely draining it.
There are numerous other safety features included. The Q800 Pro has a built-in GPS, so records your location alongside the video. You can also download safety camera locations to the memory card and receive notifications of when you are approaching these. There are lane departure and forward collision warnings, with a low speed version of the latter. You can even be notified if the vehicle in front starts moving when stationary in a traffic jam. An optional Full HD rear-view camera is available for $65 too. So this is potentially a very comprehensive dash cam package.
Thinkware Q800 Pro: Design and build
- Very much aimed at permanent placement
- Control available with the device itself is minimal
- Smartphone app available
As we’ve already mentioned, Thinkware diverges from the dash cam norm by not including any form of screen or display with the Q800 Pro. This is particularly surprising given the price. However, you don’t tend to fiddle much with a dash cam once it’s installed, so this omission is less of a problem than you might think.
The device is mounted exclusively using an adhesive plate, onto which the device slides. It’s not meant for easy removal, and in truth will be pretty hard to get off once installed. The Q800 Pro is very much aimed at permanent placement. It’s meant to sit behind your rear-view mirror so it doesn’t obstruct your view through the windscreen at all.
Unusually compared to other dash cams we’ve tested, the Q800 Pro can be purchased in two versions. One comes with a standard car cigarette lighter adapter, and the other with a hardwiring kit so you can connect the device permanently to your car’s power circuit. However, it’s worth noting that the power input to the device uses a custom connection, not USB, so you have to use the supplied cables. This is unfortunate with the cigarette lighter adapter option as this is a captured cable, so you won’t be able to plug anything else into the cigarette lighter when using it.
The bundle also includes a 16GB Micro SD card and full-sized SD adapter, plus a USB Micro SD adapter. So this goes some way towards mitigating the high purchase price. There are even some adhesive clips included to aid routing the power cable around your car windscreen out of the way, and a bundled polarizing filter.
Due to the absence of a LCD panel the control available with the device itself is minimal. There is a power button, one to toggle audio recording, one to format the memory card, one to turn WiFi off and on, and one to trigger a manual emergency recording. Everything else will require a trip to the smartphone app.
You need to turn on the WiFi on the Q800 Pro then connect to it with your phone and fire up the Thinkware Cloud app. You can then watch a live preview of what the camera is seeing, view and play recorded videos, or change the camera settings. After logging into your Thinkware account, you can also upload your car’s current location, and send notifications when it leaves a defined GEO-Fence area or sustains an impact. Of course, all these functions work through your phone’s data connection, so that will need to be within WiFi range for this to work. These features, although decidedly clever, would make more sense if the Q800 Pro had its own built-in mobile data connection.
You can also use the smartphone app to download videos and upload them to a hosting service. There’s a PC viewer desktop app (for PC and Mac) that also provides this facility. It can show the GPS information for the video files as you play them back.
Thinkware Q800 Pro: Performance
- Mediocre 2.5K detail
- Good contrast
Although contrast is well handled by the Q800 Pro, there are quite a lot of artifacts, which make text harder to read than it should be. In fact, we found that number plates were only clear up close. This lack of detail rather spoils the results from this otherwise extremely well specified dash cam.
The lack of a LCD screen didn’t prove to be a major hindrance in practice, either. The Q800 Pro announces that it’s starting up and other functions clearly, and even prompts you with the WiFi network name to connect to.
Thinkware Q800 Pro: Verdict
The Thinkware Q800 Pro is packed with features. There isn’t a safety function missing, and the bundle is generous too. Although the advanced cloud-based features such as GEO-Fencing are very clever, having them tied to your phone makes them less useful than they could be, because you’re unlikely to leave your phone in your car. Add in mobile data, as some sat navs have, and this would have been a real bonus. But the main downside is that image quality isn’t as good as we would expect in a dash cam this expensive. The lack of detail lets the Q800 Pro down.