Expensive optional OBDII and auxiliary power cables
This two-channel (rear camera included) dash cam takes fantastic front video at night, and sports an easy-to-use touch display. But it’s pricey for a dash cam that lacks internal GPS.
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The $300, dual-channel (front/rear—with camera) Thinkware X1000 dash cam offers exceptional front video captures (day and, especially, night). It also features a handy IPS touch display, a cornucopia of driver assist features, and a connection for external radar (actually LiDAR). It’s highly capable, but pricey for a unit with no internal GPS.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for more reviews and buying advice.
Design and features
The X1000 is a rectangular unit measuring 4.1-inches wide, by 2.4-inches high, by a mere 1-inch deep—the lens housing doesn’t protrude very far as you can see in the photos. Both the front and rear cameras offer a wide 156-degree field of view, covering the better part of the area around the vehicle. Both cameras offer 2560 x1440 resolution, providing a good amount of detail and high dynamic range (HDR) color.
On the back of the main camera is a clear, colorful 3.5-inch touchscreen that’s used to display live camera input (front and rear) and adjust settings. It took me a bit to get used to the display as it required a firmer press than the recently reviewed Cobra 400D. It was also harder to read during the day at a distance, largely because of the amount of red text used on the main screen. I’m being picky, though—it’s fun and easy.
On top of the main body is a coupling for the semi-permanent sticky mount. The rear camera is fixed on its semi-permanent mount, though the cable is removable. If I leave a camera on the windshield here in San Francisco it will be gone within a week. For some reason, they’ve never taken a rear camera.
Also on top of the main camera are the power jack, GPS jack (the GPS is a $40 option and another cable), radar jack, and the mini USB jack for the rear camera. The left side of the unit has the power button, microphone, and reset button (pinhole), while the right side is home to the micro SD card slot. Note that a 32GB SD card is included—always a nice perk.
Again, the radar is actually a LiDAR module used to enhance the driver-assist features. It’s not for detecting RADAR signals from law enforcement.
The X1000 is graced with a host of driver-assist features. The camera chirps at you any time it senses you’ve departed your lane, are approaching solid objects in your path, or are tardy in leaving the light.
The dash cam is rather vigilant in these warnings and I eventually turned off the assist features because I simply didn’t need them. That said, the chirping didn’t bother me. In fact, I missed it when it was gone. It was akin to having a friendly bird sharing the cabin. Go figure, and kudos to Thinkware for that.
More mundane features include parking mode (wake on impact), as well as sensitivity adjustments for just about everything. You can turn off the HDR if for some reason you don’t like color.
Uniquely, in our experience, the X1000 ships with hard-wiring rather than the more common auxiliary (cigarette lighter) or OBDII power cables. The latter are available, but at a rather staggering $30 and $45, respectively. Thinkware’s unusual coaxial power jack means you’re likely stuck with these pricey offerings.
Obviously, if you want to hardwire this isn’t an issue. But OBDII installations are nearly as clean, and far easier for the average user. Beyond that, if a Thinkware cable breaks or goes bad on the road, you’ll need to order online and wait. The cables with USB connecters that most dash cams use are often available at truck stops and gas station convenience stores.
While I have my issues with the X1000’s price and proprietary wiring, it’s impossible to fault its front video. First off, there’s a remarkable lack of fish-eye distortion given the wide 156-degree field of view. Then there’s the day video, which is nicely saturated and shows very good detail.
But the night video is the real eye-popper. It shows a remarkable amount of detail, while still handling headlight flare and the like extremely well. The only cameras we’ve tested with the same detail in night captures are the Cobra SC400D and the Nextbase 422GW, 622GW. However, those require brightening to see the details, which the X1000 does not.
If you’ve viewed the night captures in some of our other reviews, the one below will impress you. The detail is nothing short of fantastic, especially given the 1440p resolution and the fact that it’s a lot darker outside than the image would lead you to believe. Note that this is with the headlights off. With them on, detail is even better.
You can turn off this Ultra Night Vision processing and produce darker captures if you like. Not something I’d do, but it is possible.
The rear day captures (below) weren’t as detailed as the front, which is likely due to the optics. The colors are slightly duller, the heater wire in my back windshield is squashed and the focus is discombobulated (the horizontal blur about halfway up). The image is still quite good, and detail adequate.
Rear night captures aren’t as good as those from the forward camera either, though they’re still usable. You can really see the heater wire (blue distortion) in this capture. That cab be remedied by more careful placement of the rear camera. Get someone to stand outside the vehicle to tell you if it’s situated correctly.
Worth it, but there’s competition
There’s no arguing the quality of the X1000’s front video captures—they’re as good as anything we’ve seen at 1440p. It’s also versatile with both GPS and radar options and the touch display makes it exceptionally pleasant and easy to use. If you’re into driver-assist features, the X1000 is a short-lister.
But again, there’s the price. By the time you add the GPS, you’re talking nearly $350. At that price point you also find the aforementioned $400 three-channel Cobra SC400D, which offers better rear captures and a third channel for an optional cabin camera, and the Nextbase 422GW/622GW, with their versatile modular interior/rear camera systems.
Jon is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time (late
70s) computer enthusiast living in the San Francisco bay area.