The vast majority of our sales here at BlackboxMyCar are comprised of parking mode enabled devices. Parking mode is an important feature that can protect your vehicle in the event of a hit and run or vandalism and can save you from paying a costly deductible. Unfortunately, true parking mode by motion detection devices have historically been quite expensive, especially for 1080P Full HD models. That's why we're excited to review the new Thinkware F50 which starts at well under $150. This is significantly cheaper than the entry level models from Blackvue, and FineVu while still offering some impressive specs and features.
The Thinkware F50 offers built-in voltage detection and timer cutoff which can be used when paired with the correct hardwiring kit. We like this method of hardwiring because it involves tucking much less wire than the Power Magic Pro type hardwiring kits. It's also a lot easier to change the settings through the Micro SD card than to crawl under the dashboard to access dip switches that don't necessarily make sense. When paired with the optional GPS unit, the F50 is also capable of displaying the driver's speed and warn of red light cameras as well as speed cameras. Many budget dash cam batteries have issues under high heat environments and can expand as well as pose a safety threat, the F50 won't suffer from this same issue thanks to the capacitor based power supply.
The Thinkware F50 is one of the smallest dash cams in our lineup and measures in at only 3" wide and about 1.25" in diameter. It has an attractive and compact cylindrical design that hides well in the vehicle. We also appreciate the physical manual recording button on the side of the camera which makes it easy to save events while driving and can help protect those videos. If there is one complaint we have about the design though, the clear colour of the mount is a bit too bright and the mount is also on the larger side. Interestingly there's no security LED on this camera although most of our customers prefer to turn off this feature any way. For those that don't plan on using the parking mode feature, the camera simply slides off of the mounting bracket and can be hidden easily if theft is a concern.
The F50 features high end specs at a low price point. It records with a Sony EXMOR CMOS sensor at 1080P and 10 Megabits per second. Despite sounding like it has similar specs, the Sony sensor used is a smaller one than what's used in the higher end F770 and the video quality is definitely not as good at night. There's noticeably more graininess in the night footage and the dynamic range is not as good when it's dark. That being said, it still can pick up some license plates even at night, the 130 degree lens does a fair job of picking up details of further away objects such as street signs. The audio quality was also pretty good and didn't get blown out even at highway speeds.
Despite the Sony sensor, the F50's video quality is not comparable to the higher end cameras from BlackSys or Thinkware, but it does a good enough job and can provide useful evidence in the case of an accident. We recommend this dash cam for someone who wants the full features of parking mode in a compact body but doesn't need built-in WiFi or GPS. Thinkware's proprietary format-free technology makes this a good "set it and forget it" device, perfect for those who aren't tech savvy and won't be checking on their dash cam regularly. With the low price point the F50 would be an affordable way to outfit a fleet of vehicles with reliable and easy to use parking mode dash cams.