There are plenty of choices when it comes to dash cameras. Big cameras, small ones, front facing and rear. We’ve got an article on the blog about all the dash camera options and how to choose (read that here) but today we’re reviewing the Thinkware X350.
The Thinkware X350 is the largest of all the dash cameras we’re testing, but as part of that large package is a large viewing screen and a 140° wide angle lens.
Thinkware X350 dash camera set up
Getting the camera set up is easy, though right out of the gate I was dismayed to see the unit is powered by a cigarette lighter connection. That’s frustrating, because it means I can’t plug in anything else, like my smartphone, while the camera is in use (which is all the time while driving). Having a USB connector means I could get an adapter with multiple USB slots to keep many items plugged in. (The Cobra Drive HD camera has this connection. Review on that coming soon.)
The camera unit attaches to the windshield with a plastic hinged mount and double sided tape, so while it’s a mostly permanent fixture, you can make some adjustments to it.
Once powered, the camera turns on and off automatically, which is ultra convenient, since it means you’ll never miss out on an incident because you forgot to power up. The camera does play a little jingle when it turns on, and from there it’s about 15 second delay before a robot voice announces the camera has begun recording.
Thinkware X350 dashcam specs
The Thinkware is a full 1080p HD camera so your videos will be excellent quality. Videos are recorded to a microSD card, and the kit comes with a 16 gb card and a handy SD adapter that lets you plug it right into some computers.
The camera will automatically record incidents where a shock is detected, like a collision, using the camera’s Active Impact Monitoring System. It will automatically store the video data ten seconds prior to and after a collision registered by the camera’s “3-axis G-Sensor”. But I quickly realized speed bumps (even taken gently), curbs and potholes would also set the camera off and alert me by beeping twice.
Fortunately this sensitivity setting is adjustable in the camera’s settings.
Connecting with Wi-Fi
The Thinkware X350 has the option of connecting with Wi-Fi in order to access footage. But what I found was that while I was able to view the screen live I got a message saying the camera won’t record while the phone is connected. Thinkware says this is a safety feature so folks won’t play with the camera or watch video while driving. The Wi-Fi connection is only meant to be used while stopped.
When connected it allows you to access the camera’s settings, or to view or download videos to your smartphone, which is very convenient.
Manual Recording Mode
Similar to a video camera, you can use the Manual Recording Mode to capture events in front of the camera, whether or not your car is moving. It’s enabled by pushing the small red button on the back of the camera.
Continuous Recording Mode
This mode is activated automatically when you start the engine. Recorded videos are saved in one-minute segments with an auto-looping mechanism.
Unlike some other cameras, the length of the recording is not adjustable. Thinkware tells me that this is so more footage can be captured and stored on the micro SD card. Indeed when I look at the camera’s video files, there’s more than 120 ‘events’. That means I’ll have several days or hours worth of drives, in case I suddenly realize I need older footage.
Speed camera/red light warning system is not included
While Thinkware’s website touts the availability of a redlight/speed camera/warning system, this feature is an extra option and requires the purchase of a GPS tracker accessory. I don’t have the accessory, so that option wasn’t tested in this review.
Thinkware dash camera Video Quality
The video quality is good overall if you’re looking to capture incidents. The 140 degree wide angle lens shows you a lot. Seeing fine details, however, is not the camera’s strong suit. Reading license plates, for example is all but impossible at any kind of distance. While you can see the plate on the car in front of you when stopped at a light, once the car gets a few car lengths in front of you, plates become illegible, at least when viewing videos on my laptop’s 16″ screen.
Perhaps police could enhance these videos if necessary, but I’m no CSI. I should also say that this level of detailed viewing, or lack thereof, is standard for dash cameras. I’m currently comparing three cameras and all perform more or less the same on license plate viewing tests.
Night recording capabilities on the Thinkware are also good. The video images are clear and easy to interpret. (ProTip: Washing your windshield frequently keeps videos looking good too.)
Overall review of Thinkware X350 dash camera
Overall the Thinkware camera is a good buy for your in-car recording needs; the video quality both day and night is excellent, it’s virtually hassle free to operate since it does most everything on its own. The SD card and 1 minute recording time stores lots of tape if you ever need it.
Thinkware X350 dash camera sells for about $199CADfrom sites like Best Buy and Amazon below.