With accidents and other incidents on the rise as more and more people hit the road, dash cams are increasing in popularity both for business and personal use. Our Thinkware X500 review takes a look at a dash cam that offers a road safety warning system in addition to normal driving video recording.
The Thinkware X500 Dash Cam has the following features and specifications:
- Camera: 2.4M Pixels, 1/2.9″ (SONY CMOS Image sensor)
- Display Panel: 2.7″ Clear Display (320×240)
- Viewing Angle: Approximately 140° (diagonally)
- Video: ALL Full HD (1920X1080) for front & rear view camera when connected
- Capacity: Micro SD Card 16GB / 32GB / 64GB UHS-I
- Recording Modes: Continuous Recording Mode, Incident Recording Mode, Manual Recording Mode, Parking Surveillance Recording Mode, Audio Recording
- Acceleration Sensor: 3-Axis Acceleration G-Sensor (3D, ±4G)
- GPS: Built-in GPS (Glonass supported)
- Input Voltage: DC 12/24V (Max 35V), Power Cable Port x 1 (3.5pi)
- Power Consumption: 5.3W (mean) – 2ch,30fp , 3.5W (mean) – 1ch,30fp
- Interface: 1 x Video-IN (micro USB), DC-IN, Micro SD slot
- Extra features: Front Security LED
- Dimensions: 104.3 x 51.4 x 29.3 mm (4.1 x 2.02 x 1.15 inches)
- Weight: 111 g(Excluding microSD) (0.24 lbs)
What’s in the Box
- 1x Thinkware X500 Dash Cam
- 1x Mount with 3M tape
- 1x Car Charger
- 5x Adhesive Cable Holder
- 1x 16GB MicroSD memory card with adapter
- 1x USB MicroSD card reader
- 1x Quick Start Guide/Warranty/User Manual
The Thinkware X500 Dash Cam looks like a small digital point and shoot camera. The casing is constructed of a mix of silver and black plastic. The front of the camera houses the camera lens, security LED, and speaker. The left side of the camera is where you’ll find the memory card slot and the power switch, while the top has the mount connector, rearview camera connector port and power cable connector port. The rearview camera functionality requires a separate unit which is sold separately. Finally, the back of the camera has the 2.7″ LCD screen and 4 control buttons, while the mic and reset button are on the bottom of the camera.
The clear plastic mount features a single direction hinge (when mounted it moves the camera toward or away from the windshield), and mounts using 3M tape. The camera slides into the mount by way of the mount connector on the top of the camera, and slides and clicks into place securely. Personally I’d much prefer to see a suction mount used as it is easier to move it to a different location should you need to. That being said, Thinkware claims that when using 3M tape as opposed to a suction cup, not only is vibration reduced, but the dash cam is less likely to become detached from the windshield in the event of sudden impact.
The Thinkware X500 Dash Cam isn’t overly large, although I have used smaller dash cams in the past, but it’s not that obtrusive when properly mounted.
Setup/Ease of Use
Installation of the Thinkware X500 Dash Cam isn’t that difficult, but does require a bit of attention. Start by placing the camera in the mount. The instructions indicate that you should install the dash cam on the right of center as the camera lens is off centered on the front, however this can be a bit tricky. I would recommend powering on the camera and then go into the ADAS auto calibration settings (more on that later) and using that alignment to properly place your dash cam on your windshield. Because it uses 3M tape, once you’ve stuck it on, you’re pretty much stuck on the positioning, although a spare piece of 3M tape is included if you do need to move it at a later time.
After you’ve mounted the dash cam, you can tuck the cable around the upper and passenger edge of the windshield and find the best route in your vehicle to arrange the cable, using the included adhesive clips where necessary.
Finally, plug the camera into the included power cable and plug the other end into a DC power port and that’s it. Once you turn your vehicle on, the dash cam will power on. Likewise, when you turn your vehicle off, the camera should power off. If the camera remains on after you’ve removed the key from the ignition and your vehicle is off, you may have it connected into an outlet that gives power even when the vehicle is off. If this is the case, you’ll probably want to plug it into a different DC power port in your vehicle.
The interface on the Thinkware X500 dash cam is pretty simple to use. When in LCD Live View, you can toggle the audio recording status or switch to the main menu. Once in the main menu (which stops recording), you can scroll up and down through the various menu settings which include viewing the file list and recorded videos, memory card settings, viewing the Dual Save videos, and other settings which include toggling the Road Warning Safety System features, adjusting the time, and setting display options.
Once you’ve looked through and set up the various options, it’s a pretty much plug and play operation with the dash cam turning itself on and off at the same time as your vehicle.
As far as simple dash cam functionality is concerned, the Thinkware X500 Dash Cam records video in 1 minute segments and saves them to the MicroSD card. If you should happen to get into an accident, the dash cam will store the 10 seconds before and after impact and save it under a different folder on the MicroSD card. You can adjust the sensitivity of this function, and may find that going over bumps, potholes, and even curbs into driveways will trigger an “impact.” In addition, the same video will be recorded directly to the dash cam’s internal memory backup using Thinkware’s Dual Save technology in case something happens to the MicroSD card after an incident. Should you wish to record something immediately, you can press the record button on the back of the camera and the 10 seconds prior and 50 seconds after will be recorded and stored to yet another folder on the MicroSD card.
The 2.7″ LCD display on the Thinkware X500 Dash Cam is clear and easy to see. There are three levels of brightness for the screen that you can adjust in the settings. The display can also be set to remain on (LCD Live View) while in use, or to shut off after a certain number of seconds. I opted to enable LCD Live View as it gives you access to some of the other functions that are available on the dash cam.
The functionality and performance of the Thinkware X500 doesn’t stop there however. The dash cam also includes a road warning safety system with various functions that can be enabled or disabled as you see fit. The system is enabled and calibrated in the settings by aligning a diagram to the hood of your vehicle. Once enabled, three new features can be used: Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), and Front Vehicle Departure Warning (FVDW). These features do exactly as they sound. If LDWS is enabled, it is activated once you hit 50km/h (30mph) and adds two lines to the screen which indicate your current lane. These lines will only appear if the camera can detect lane markings on the road. If you drift to the left or right, that line will turn red and the camera will beep to draw your awareness to the lane departure.
The FCWS alerts you when the vehicle you are driving is approaching the vehicle ahead at a high closing rate, for example if the vehicle ahead brakes suddenly. The 1st stage warning displays a yellow square on the screen, while a 2nd warning will display a red square on the screen only after the initial warning. Both stages are accompanied by a beeping sound as well. This alert worked decently enough, but did trigger at odd times including on the actual shadow of my vehicle when the sun was low behind me.
Finally, the FVDW alerts the driver when the vehicle ahead starts moving from a complete stop, for example at a red light that has turned green. An alert will sound from the dash cam, as well as a blue vehicle outline in the middle of the screen to indicate traffic movement.
The road safety warning system works fairly well in most conditions, however when driving into direct sunlight, the LDWS and FCWS may not function as intended. The road safety warning system is handy, but as with all technology one shouldn’t expect it to prevent accidents or other incidences but rather serve as a secondary reminder system while driving. Each of the beeping sounds for the three different road safety warning systems are also different so after a bit of time you can tell what kind of warning it is just by the alert that is given.
The feature that most drivers will probably welcome is the average speed/mobile zone warning system that’s also included. This system alerts you when you are entering speed enforcement camera zones, whether they be red light and/or speed cameras, or areas where mobile speed traps are frequently set up. The Safety Camera Alert database in Thinkware dash cams contain a comprehensive coverage of safety cameras across regions including North America (approximately 10,000 camera locations across the region) and the United Kingdom (approximately 18,000 locations). The safety camera database is constantly updated to provide the latest and accurate information, and you can download the latest safety cam data from the Thinkware website and update it on your camera with a single file.
The dash cam also has the ability to detect and record incidents and motion while parked, however this feature is available only when the dash cam has been hardwired directly to the vehicle battery. Separate purchase for the hardwiring cable accessory and professional installation is required, so we didn’t test this functionality.
The Thinkware X500 dash cam also comes with software for viewing the recorded videos on your computer. The PCViewer software comes on the MicroSD card so be sure to copy it to your computer before you format the MicroSD card for use in the dash cam.
Once the PCViewer application is installed on your computer, click File from the menu and select the drive for the MicroSD card then select and watch the video from the appropriate playlist. Unfortunately the software is pretty low-key, allowing you to select and view videos, and change settings on the dash cam — but that’s about it. There is a map window so you can see the location of where the video was taken
but I could never get that feature to work which worked great after updating the software to the latest version from the website. One big omission is that while the GPS data is embedded in the video, it’s not stamped onto the video frame alongside the date and other information.
You can also modify the settings for your dash cam and save them to the MicroSD card instead of having to use the on-camera settings menu.
With an MSRP of $229USD, the Thinkware X500 dash camera is currently available on Amazon for about $175. You can also get a rear camera to attach to the front camera for an extra $50 or so, which would provide additional coverage.
The Thinkware X500 dash cam not only records your daily drive, but also includes additional Road Safety Warning System features that are very useful. If you’re looking for a dash cam with a few extras like red light and speed camera zone ratings, you might want to consider the Thinkware X500.