The Thinkware U1000 4K dash cam is the flagship model from South Korean manufacturer Thinkware. It offers fantastic front and rear video quality and lots of customizable features.
It comes at a premium price point but it’s not unjustified. The hardware and components used in this dash cam are best-in-class. There are lots of features, all of which can be controlled by the Thinkware Cloud app.
In this Thinkware U1000 review, we’ll cover all the technical specifications, as well as the user experience, helping you decide if the Thinkware U1000 4k dash cam is right for you.
What’s in the box?
- 1 x Thinkware U1000 Front Camera
- 1 x Thinkware U1000 Rear Camera
- 1 x Front Mounting Plate
- 1 x 32GB MicroSD Card
- 1 x CPL Filter (Circular Polarizing Lens Filter)
- 1 x Hard-Wiring Kit
- 1 x Signal Cable (Connects Rear Unit to Front Unit)
- Fantastic 4k UHD Video Quality
- Great UX with the Thinkware App
- ‘Super Night Vision 2’ Image Processing (Provides Superior Low-Light Visibility)
- Lane Departure Warning System
- Low Profile Design and Ease-of-Use
- No screen showing the feed from the rear camera
- Included 32Gb MicroSD card is small considering file sizes
Thinkware recommend that you seek a professional to install your dash cam. However, this isn’t strictly necessary. If you’re comfortable with basic wiring and electronics, you’ll be able to install the Thinkware U1000 yourself.
To do this, you’ll need the following:
- Your vehicle’s manual – This will help you identify switched and constant outlets on your fuse board. (Alternatively, you can use a circuit tester.)
- A pair of small or needle-nosed pliers.
- Some fuse taps – These will connect the raw wire on the cabling kit to your vehicle’s fuse board.
To install your dash cams, simply remove the adhesive backings and stick them to the windshield. Make sure to find a central position that doesn’t obscure your line of sight while driving.
Next, you’ll need to run the video signal cable from the rear cam to the front one. The correct ports are clearly labelled and you can hide the cable within the headliner and soft furnishings. A plastic trim tool can help you do this.
Once you’ve run the video signal cable through your vehicle you can plug it into the front unit. Then, you’ll need to get power to your front unit.
The included power cable has two ends. One end is for the front cam and is black and L-shaped. The other end has three wires sticking out. These are:
- Black (Ground) – This needs to be connected to a good grounding point on your vehicle’s chassis.
- Yellow – This will need to be connected to a constant power fuse board socket using a fuse tap.
- Red – This will need to be connected to a switched power fuse board socket using a fuse tap.
You can connect the bare wires of the red and yellow cables to the fuse taps using your pliers. You can find out where to connect them using a circuit tester or you vehicle’s manual.
Once everything is connected you’ll need to hide the cabling.
Wiring following these instructions this will enable you to use all of the camera’s features without limitation.
However, if this is too complex, there are other alternatives available. There is a 12v cigarette lighter adapter which is the easiest option to install. However, you will not be able to use parking mode as the the unit won’t be able to draw power when the engine is off.
Another alternative requires buying a third party OBD2 adapter. This will allow you to use the parking surveillance mode and doesn’t require access to your vehicles fuse board.
The Thinkware U1000 uses the highest quality components to provide best-in-class quality. This dash camera is for anyone who wants to record every detail of their drive. This includes license plates.
The 150 degree front camera uses an 8.42MP Sony STARVIS image sensor. This sensor is a 2019 model that is frequently used in high-end surveillance cameras. It is known for its ability to record great footage, even in poor lighting conditions.
The 156 degree rear camera uses a 5.14MP Sony STARVIS image sensor. Though it has less pixels, the difference in the quality of the footage is negligible. It also has the same low light capabilities.
The Ambarella A12 Chipset boasts some advanced image processing, great low-light performance and the ability to capture 4k ultra HD at 30fps.
The camera stores its footage in H.265 format. This video format provides the best possible image quality at the smallest file size. This format is most notably used by Arlo surveillance cameras and GoPro action cameras. At 28Mbps, this bitrate is surprisingly low considering the quality of the footage. This is useful as the included memory card is not that big.
However, the recording quality is not fixed. You can use the app to switch to a different quality. Doing so could help you save space on your memory card. However, some users have said that the quality doesn’t go low enough. If you favour quantity over quality, you’ll need to get a larger third-party micro SD card. The expandable memory size limit is 128GB.
Also included with the U1000 4k dash cam is a CPL filter. This reduces glare, particularly at night, making things like license plates more visible.
Viewing the footage from your camera is easy within the app. Alternatively, you can use a USB MicroSD card reader with your computer and take the files directly off of the memory card.
The Thinkware Cloud app offers enhanced security features for you and your vehicle. By connecting the app to your dash cam, you can receive notifications about your vehicle directly to your smartphone. The list below will detail some of the apps capabilities:
- Remote Impact Detection – Sends an alert if your vehicle experiences a collision.
- Parking Mode Impact Detection- Alerts you when something or someone hits your unattended vehicle.
- Remote Live View – See what your camera is seeing when you’re not in your vehicle.
- Live GPS Tracking – See where your vehicle is on a map in real time.
- Geo-Fencing – Define a geographical area and get notified when your vehicle leaves it.
These cloud features are far beyond what most dash cams offer. They are particularly useful for shared vehicles. There is no waiting to find out if an incident has occurred when a friend or family member is borrowing your car. The live viewing and geo-fencing features are also effective measures against theft.
Thinkware have done a good job of considering all the technological capabilities at their disposal and turning them into effective safety measures.
A dash cam’s parking mode will protect a vehicle when it’s unattended. By using a G-Sensor, it will detect any impacts and start recording straight away. However, sometimes an incident will occur quickly. Dash cams occasionally have slow start up times and might miss important information in their recordings.
The time lapse feature on the Thinkware U1000 is an improvement on the parking modes of other makes and models. The front and rear cameras will record time lapse footage at a reduced frame rate of 2FPS, minimising file size and power consumption but still capturing everything.
For some vehicles, the time lapse feature may draw too much power. There is a new energy saving mode in the U1000 that can extend the parking mode’s runtime up to 26x. However, using this energy saving mode disables all of the cloud features available in parking mode.
The Thinkware U1000 has camera has built-in GPS, unlike other makes and models where GPS is an add-on feature. Various cloud features will use the data provided by the GPS chip to provide important information in the event of an emergency.
It’s possible to track your vehicles movements live through the Thinkware cloud app. You can see the position of your vehicle overlaid on a Google Maps display. This is a useful feature if your car is stolen. The information your dash cam provides can be given to law enforcement to help return your car safely.
Another use of GPS data is geo-fencing. This feature allows you to set a geographical area (for example, the city you live in). When your vehicle leaves this set area, you will notified via the Thinkware cloud app. This is a very useful early warning system in the event of car theft.
A further use of the GPS data is to warn you if you’re approaching a speed camera. It can also warn you about mobile speed camera hotspots and red light cameras.
How do I register my Thinkware U1000?
In order to use the cloud features of the U1000, you will need to sign up for a Thinkware Cloud account. This is simple and won’t take long. Afterwards, you’ll be able to make use of the Thinkware’s amazing remote access options.
Firstly, you’ll need the Thinkware Cloud App, free from the App store (IOS) or the Play Store (Android). Then you will need to:
- Open the app
- Tap the ‘three dots’ icon in the bottom right-hand side of the screen
- Tap ‘Sign In’ near the top of the screen
- Tap “Thinkware Sign Up’ at the bottom of the screen
You’ll then be prompted to fill out your personal information and finish by tapping ‘Sign Up’ at the bottom. A confirmation email will be sent to the address you provided.
You will then need to register your U1000 camera using a Wi Fi hotspot. For a detailed guide on how to do this with IOS, click here.
For a detailed guide on how to do this with Android, click here.
Q800 Pro vs U1000
The Q800 Pro and the U1000 dash cams differ slightly in their capabilities. They have slightly different form factors and feature offerings. The U1000 is newer and offers more, but is substantially more expensive.
In terms of camera quality, the U1000 front camera offers up to 4k UHD footage (3840p x 2160p), whereas the Q800 Pro front camera only offers 2k QHD footage (2560p x 1440p). Despite the terms ‘4k ultra HD’ and ‘2k QHD’, the U1000 image resolution isn’t ‘twice as good’, but it is significantly better.
The Rear camera on the Q800 Pro offers full HD (1920p x 1080p) but the rear camera on the U1000 offers 2k QHD (2560p x 1440p). This difference is slightly more significant, especially if you’re wanting to capture a lot of detail, such as license plates.
It’s also worth noting that the Q1000 has a 150 degree wide angle lens compared to the Q800’s 140 degree wide angle lens. This offers a more comprehensive view of the road ahead.
The Q800 Pro front camera is on a rotating bracket, so the vehicle interior can be recorded if necessary. The camera on the U1000 is static and unable to record inside your vehicle.
In terms of the Thinkware cloud features, the Q800 Pro offers everything the U1000 does, except the parking mode remote notifications. However, you are still able to live view and receive impact notifications when not in parking mode. Geo-fencing and GPS tracking are also available on both.
Another added feature of the U1000 camera is the capability to add an optional radar module, which we’ll talk about now in more detail.
Thinkware U1000 Radar Module
The Thinkware U1000’s optional radar sensor is available separately and will improve the capabilities of the energy saving mode while parked. The radar module will detect movement within 7m (23ft) of your vehicle it will automatically start recording, capturing any potential threats. The recording will last 20 seconds or until the range around your vehicle is clear. If no impact is detected, the recording will be deleted.
Since the new energy saving mode means recording will only begin after an impact, the radar sensor ensures nothing is missed. The benefit of radar over time lapse mode is that radar uses much less power.
The Thinkware U1000 is a remarkable dash cam, offering a huge range of useful features and exceptional camera quality. You are unlikely to find this level of sophistication in any rival cameras.
However, the premium price tag, although justified, is a consideration for most buyers. If you are a first-time buyer, this camera might not be for you. You may want to consider a cheaper of option from Thinkware such as the FA200. However, if you are already enjoying the security of a dash cam and want to upgrade, the U1000 is an unbeatable choice.