Thinkware X500 dash cam review: It packs advanced features in an annoying design

The front and rear video are a big bonus.

thinkware x500 dashcam
Credit: Thinkware
At a Glance
  • $219.99 MSRP $280.00
    View
    on Amazon

    The X500's advanced features--especially the ability to record front and rear--set it apart from the crowd. But the interface is counterintuitive, and a removable mounting system should be provided.

Feature-wise, the X500 is by far the most capable product in the review: 1080/30fps 140 degree wide-angle video, a 2.7-inch LCD, HDMI out, the ability to save video to both internal NAND and the SD card during incidents, as well as record from both from its internal camera and the optional $100 TWA-X500F750R USB-attached rear-view camera. It’s also got smarts: audio/voice feedback (good), lane departure and collision warnings (useless), plus notices about speed cameras and traps. If you’re serious about covering your legal self while driving—it’s the best dash cam in the roundup.

thinkware x500 dashcam day

The Thinkware X500 has a nice, wide 140-degree field of view and great daytime video quality.

I wanted to love the X500, but irritating foibles came between us. The first annoyance was the extreme depth of the SD card slot: Seating the included 8GB card required an implement. Then there are the green and blue dots indicating record modes. One word: Red. As in the universally accepted color to indicate recording, and the color of the dot in the center of the large button that is used for “OK” rather than record. I could go on, but I’ll finish with the X500's being the only camera in the roundup that couldn’t take snapshots.

The X500 was also the only unit that mounts using semi-permanent (hard-to-get-off) 3M tape. I have no issue with that as such, however, the mount only allows the camera to swivel forward and backward, so it requires very precise placement. A bigger issue was the use of the semi-permanent 3M tape on the optional rear-view camera, which doesn’t detach from its mount. Leaving electronics (or anything valuable for that matter) in the convertible I park on a city street is a no-no. I say remove the 3M tape and use Velcro. Actually, that was Thinkware’s suggestion.

thinkware x500 dashcam night

The Thinkware X500 dashcam shot good night video, but the real plus is the rearview camera. 

That’s a lot of griping, but once configured, the X500 with the optional rear-view camera, is the best recording solution in the roundup. Both daytime and night video are top-notch, and the ability to record what’s going on behind you is priceless. The minute you see rear-view video, you realize that most dash cams solve only half the problem. The only downside is that recording front and rear uses up the space on the included 16GB microSD card faster.

As to the Thinkware’s lane departure, collision, and speed trap warnings—as I said up top, I turned them all off. I considered leaving the speed camera warnings on, but their frequency while in the same area was such that I tired of them quickly. I’d prefer a notice that I’ve left that area. On the other hand, the voice feedback is a nice touch.

To reiterate, for driving professionals, the X500 with the rear-view camera is the best recording solution in the roundup. But it would be nice if Thinkware bundled a removable mounting solution, if nothing more than the Velcro they suggested to me.

This story, "Thinkware X500 dash cam review: It packs advanced features in an annoying design" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • $219.99 MSRP $280.00
    View
    on Amazon

    The X500's advanced features--especially the ability to record front and rear--set it apart from the crowd. But the interface is counterintuitive, and a removable mounting system should be provided. Read the full review

    Pros

    • Integrated GPS
    • Records both front and rear (with optional camera)
    • Speed trap warnings

    Cons

    • Doesn't take photos
    • Doesn't run off USB power
    • Permanent mount on rearview camera means you have to leave it in the car
    • Front camera mount swivels in only one direction
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