The Thinkware T700 may look like most other dashcams, but there is one big difference: this is a dashcam with a SIM card slot and LTE connectivity.
That means the T700 has 4G and can connect to the internet, to send notifications and even let you watch a live feed of your car from your phone from anywhere in the world. While the T700 isn’t without its flaws, this unique functionality means it’s on our list of the best dash cams money can buy.
Before we get into the connectivity features of the T700, let’s quickly run through the basics. This is a dashcam with a slim and fairly subtle design; it has no display, but is instead shaped to fit snugly against the windshield, hidden behind the rear-view mirror and neatly out of the way.
The lens can be rotated about 45 degrees so should work with just about any vehicle regardless of the windshield angle. It connects to a simple holder that sticks to the screen with an adhesive pad. This means that the mount will always be on the screen, but the camera can be removed by sliding it to the side – useful if you want to switch it between vehicles, but in reality we would probably plug the T700 stuck in our car and think of it as a permanent installation.
There is a row of buttons on the back of the device. These are for power supply, switching the WiFi and microphone on or off, manually recording footage – if you witness an incident but the G-sensor feels no impact – and for making an emergency call after an accident.
Setting up the dashcam should be a simple process and registering the supplied Vodafone SIM card only took a few minutes (and costs £3 a month with a rolling contract). However, as far as the dashcam itself is concerned, we experienced problems creating a Thinkware account, as a confirmation email simply never arrived. Without it, we couldn’t log into the app and set up the camera.
While that issue was being investigated, at least we were able to use the T700 as a standard dash cam, as plugging into the 12V cigarette lighter socket and starting the car is enough to start the video recording. We solved the previous issue by creating a new Thinkware account, and while the dashcam and SIM card took some time to communicate properly, the setup process was eventually completed.
The camera uses a 2.1 MP CMOS sensor that records 1080p Full HD images at 30 fps (frames per second) through a 140-degree lens. The results are good, but not overwhelming. Details like license plates and street signs can be read, but it’s not the sharpest dashcam footage we’ve seen, and we wish the T700 had 2K resolution rather than being limited to Full HD.
As for storage, the T700 comes with a microSD card, but it only has a capacity of 16GB, so it fills up quickly, overwriting the oldest footage. We recommend investing in a larger card, in the 64 GB region.
While we’re only reviewing the front camera here, Thinkware also sells the T700 with a rear camera in the box. The secondary camera is attached to the main unit via a long cable and records in Full HD at 30 fps, through a 140-degree lens.
A key feature that sets the T700 apart from almost all other dash cams is the SIM card slot, LTE connectivity and access to Thinkware Connected Services. This is all made possible via a Vodafone SIM card that comes in the box and costs £3 a month for 5GB of data on an ongoing contract that can be canceled at any time. The SIM card offers national and international roaming in more than 160 countries, so the dashcam stays connected almost everywhere.
Giving the dashcam its own 4G connection enables a range of additional features, including the ability to view a live video feed on your phone from anywhere, receive real-time notifications when a collision is detected while parked, and remote firmware updates.
There’s also an emergency messaging feature, where the dashcam uses its 4G signal to send a pre-written message to your emergency contact when a collision is detected and the driver doesn’t respond. The dashcam records analysis of driving behavior and travel history – useful when you lend your vehicle to someone else – and also monitors the car’s battery voltage. Since hard-wired dash cams can put extra strain on a car’s battery, this should help prevent the battery from draining if your vehicle is parked for an extended period of time.
For some buyers, these features will be useful and well worth the £3 monthly data cost. However, others might think a cheaper dash cam without 4G would better suit their needs.
Personally, we like to set and forget about our dashcams so they can quietly continue recording video and save it when a collision is detected. Hardwired features such as parking monitoring are also useful. But for us, the benefits of 4G connectivity do not outweigh the additional upfront and ongoing costs. We also ran into a few issues setting up the LTE connection, requiring multiple dashcam reboots to get everything working.
In addition to the LTE features, the Thinkware T700 has red light and speed camera alerts, including average speed zones, and GPS for adding accurate location and speed data to video recordings. In addition, a range of driver assistance systems includes front-impact and lane departure warnings, plus a warning if you don’t notice the vehicle ahead has left.