MEGATech Reviews: The Thinkware U1000 4K Dash Cam
If you want to pay for one of the most full-featured 4K dash cameras currently on the market, with exceptional quality and innovative features, this might be it. But the lack of display and the need for a hardwire installation for the best experience may deter some.
  • Exceptional 4K image quality day or night
  • Ability to upgrade features as you go
  • Gentle reminders to help you drive better
  • Premium price may deter some buyers
  • Requires hardwired installation for best experience
  • No integrated display
9Overall Score
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Dashcams are on their way to becoming a regular fixture in most vehicles today. The breadth and depth of brands, features, and prices, especially on marketplaces like Amazon, have made them more available than ever. They give us peace of mind and provide a silent witness to insurers and law enforcement. Tesla’s Sentry Mode is a feature that has provided crucial evidence with notable mentions in the news.

Our reliance on these ‘silent witnesses‘ is increasing, and so are our demands of them. That’s why Thinkware, a Korean based company that has been servicing the dash camera community since 1997, is continuing to evolve with the needs of consumers.  We have reviewed their cameras in the past, and the experience of using one is overall good, but we’re often wondering if HD is enough to pick up the details needed in case of an incident. The Thinkware U1000 is a 4K dash camera capable of providing reliable 4K 30P image quality and with it, increased resolution and better performance in mixed lighting conditions.

The prospect of having features such as the high 4K image quality and the ability to hard-wire into the vehicle for more advanced surveillance features is attractive. The Thinkware U1000 is also on the higher end of the price scale. The question is, do those features, and the extra effort of a hard-wired install, make it worth the cost and effort? As a stick-on camera consumer, I will attempt to answer that in the next few paragraphs.

Build Your Dash Camera Adventure

Thinkware U1000 Review

You can find the Thinkware U1000 in several different bundles, depending on the retailer. Some include a lighter adapter for those wishing to have a true 4K experience without professional installation, all the way to options that be hard-wired with a second 2K rear camera. There are even bundles with a radar module that prevents you from wasting battery life and storage. More on that later. The bundle we received includes the main Thinkware U1000 itself and can be hard-wired with an included kit. In this main kit, there is also a polarizing filter, which dramatically helps to cut down on reflections and glare experienced on some windshields, especially in the sun. I would recommend this bundle because, without the ability to hard-wire, you’re just buying a regular stick-on 4K camera in terms of basic functionality. If we’re going to spend the money, we want everything offered.

Thinkware U1000 Review

To check out all the signature features of the Thinkware U1000, we also received the optional 2K QHD rear camera and the radar module. That means that the U1000 supports dual-channel recording (front and rear). While the main camera supports up to 4K 30P (including 2K 60P if you want a smoother image), the rear camera is locked to a 2K 30P resolution. The front camera covers a 150 deg field of view, while the rear camera covers a 156 deg field of view, giving you reasonably impressive coverage for only two cameras. They feature Sony’s STARVIS sensors, which have known excellent low light performance, and you’ll find it in many high-end dashcams on the market.

The radar module itself unlocks a feature called Energy Saver 2.0. Unlike typical motion-based sensors, which can only switch on the camera after an impact has occurred, the radar module will detect motion and start the process of recording in advance up to 10 seconds. Once the event has passed, and there has been no impact, the camera goes back to sleep again. If there is an impact, the first 10 seconds before the crash, and the 10 seconds after, will be recorded. These files write to a separate folder on the memory card. Unlike constant recording setups, this doesn’t waste storage or your battery. The Thinkware U1000 needs to be hard-wired as these features are only available with continuous power from the accessory battery in your car.

The base-level Thinkware U1000 kit, which includes the front camera, 12V car adapter, windshield mount, clips, SD card and card reader, will run you $399 US. We recommend you spring for the kit with the hard-wire kit, circular polarizer, and the 2K rear camera for $499 US as it will give you the best experience. The optional radar module adds around $89 US. We also recommend that you pick up a 128GB high endurance card like a Sandisk, to replace the included 32GB card will be inadequate if you want more than just a few hours of recording. The constant recording and overwriting operations are very tough on memory cards, and you will want one that will be up to the task. Also, 128GB is the current largest size supported by Thinkware in the U1000, so you might as well go for the largest possible capacity, and record as much as possible in case it is needed.

Our kit, as tested, was roughly $588 US plus $29 US for the Sandisk 128GB High Endurance Card.

The Brains of the Operation – The Thinkware U1000

Thinkware U1000 Review

The front camera is where all the magic happens. It’s where you plug in the memory card, the radar as mentioned earlier and rear camera modules, and it’s what you want to mount first, so you can start getting the rest of the system setup. But it’s also perfectly capable as a single camera. You can start with it and then add on the other modules at a later date. However, we do recommend that you go for the dual-channel setup as it does include the hard-wire kit and the circular polarizer, including the rear 2K camera.

Thinkware U1000 Review

The left side of the unit, with the lens facing forward, is where everything plugin, so this is the busiest side. It supports the second camera, the power, whether it be hard-wired or from the 12V adapter, the optional GPS module, and the radar, as mentioned earlier module.

Thinkware U1000 Review

The right side features the speaker, microphone, reset switch, and where you would insert your memory card. Unfortunately, there are no Google or Alexa assistant features at this time. Flipping it on its back, with the adhesive mount facing down, we see the buttons. From the top-down, we have a power button, WiFi button, and a voice recording button, which does the ‘cone of silence’ in case you don’t want your conversation recorded for a while. The big record button is for those times you want to record something you need to r right now.

To the left and right of this button are the speakers which allow the unit to communicate what it’s doing as it has no screen. It will announce things like its current recording mode if it’s connected to the Internet, in a human-like voice. Pressing any of the buttons, as mentioned earlier, will also signal a verbal notification of the command you wish to perform. I guess, in a sense, this can be a less distracting way of operation as you aren’t taking your eyes off the road. But, if you have the radio going, you might miss the cues.

The speakers are also for the Advanced Driver Assistance System or ADAS. These include lane departure, forward collision, front vehicle departure, and red light camera alerts (where available). The U1000 will chime with different sounds in each case, alerting you to what is happening more subtly, instead of with the voice, which could prove annoying over time. These sounds seem to find a way to penetrate cabin sounds, including the stereo, which is impressive in itself. It does require familiarizing yourself with what they all mean, though, to maximize their helpfulness.

Let’s talk about the install process and some shortcuts that may be helpful.

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