The Thinkware T700 might look like most other dash cams, but there’s one major difference – this is a dash cam with a SIM card slot and LTE connectivity.
That means the T700 has 4G and can connect to the internet, for sending notifications and even letting you view a live feed of your car from your phone, anywhere in the world. While the T700 isn't without its flaws, this unique functionality means it's made our list of the best dash cams you can buy.
Before we dive into the T700’s connectivity features, we’ll quickly run through the basics. This is a dash cam with a slim and fairly subtle design; it doesn’t have a display, so instead is shaped to fit snugly up against the windscreen, hidden behind the rear-view mirror and neatly out of the way.
The lens can be rotated through about 45 degrees, so should work with just about any vehicle, no matter the rake of their windscreen. It connects to a simple mount that sticks to the screen with an adhesive pad. This means the mount will always be on the screen, but the camera can be removed by sliding it to the side – handy if you want to switch it between vehicles, but in reality we’d probably hard-wire the T700 into our car and consider it a permanent installation.
The rear of the device is home to a row of buttons. These are for power, turning the Wi-Fi and microphone on or off, manually recording footage – for when you witness an incident but the G-sensor doesn’t feel an impact – and for making an emergency call after an accident.
Setting up the dash cam should be a simple process, and registering the included Vodafone SIM card only took a few minutes (and costs £3 a month on a rolling contract). However, when it came to the dash cam itself, we faced problems when trying to create a Thinkware account, as a confirmation email simply never arrived. Without that, we were unable to log into the app and set up the camera.
While that issue was being investigated, we were at least able to use the T700 as a basic dash cam, as plugging it into the 12V lighter socket and starting the car is enough for video recording to begin. We fixed the earlier issue by creating a new Thinkware account, and while the dash cam and SIM card took a while to communicate properly, the setup process was eventually completed.
The camera uses a 2.1MP CMOS sensor that records 1080p Full HD footage at 30fps (frames per second) through a 140-degree lens. The results are good, but not jaw-droppingly so. Details like vehicle number plates and street signs can be read, but it isn’t the sharpest dash cam footage we’ve seen, and makes us wish the T700 had a 2K resolution instead of being capped at Full HD.
As for storage, the T700 comes with a microSD card, but this only has a 16GB capacity, so fills up quickly, at which point the oldest footage is overwritten. We suggest investing in a larger card, in the region of 64GB.
Although we’re only reviewing the front-facing camera here, Thinkware also sells the T700 with a rear camera included in the box. Attached to the main unit via a long cable, the secondary camera records in Full HD at 30fps, through a 140-degree lens.
A major feature that sets the T700 apart from almost all other dash cams is its SIM card slot, LTE connectivity and access to Thinkware Connected Services. This is all enabled via a Vodafone SIM card included in the box, and which costs £3 per month for 5GB of data on a rolling contract that can be cancelled at any time. The SIM provides national and international roaming across more than 160 countries, so the dash cam will remain connected almost anywhere.
Giving the dash cam its own 4G connection enables a range of extra features, including the ability to view a live video feed on your phone from anywhere, receive real-time notifications when an impact is detected while parked, and remote firmware updates.
There’s also an emergency messaging feature, where the dash cam uses its 4G signal to send a pre-written message to your emergency contact when a collision is detected and the driver does not respond. The dash cam logs driver behaviour analytics and travel history – handy when lending your vehicle to someone else – and it monitors the car’s battery voltage, too. Since hardwired dash cams can cause extra drain on a car’s battery, this should help prevent a flat battery if your vehicle is parked for an extended amount of time.
For some buyers, these features will be useful and well worth the £3 monthly data fee. However, others might feel that a lower-priced dash cam without 4G makes more sense for their needs.
Personally, we like to set-and-forget our dash cams, leaving them to quietly get on with the job of recording video and saving it when a collision is detected. Hard-wired features like parking surveillance are also helpful. But, for us, the benefits of 4G connectivity don’t outweigh the additional upfront and ongoing costs. We also encountered a few issues when setting up the LTE connection, with multiple dash cam reboots required to get it all working.
Beyond its LTE features, the Thinkware T700 has warnings for red light and speed cameras, including average speed zones, and GPS for adding accurate location and speed data to video recordings. On top of all this, a suite of driver assistance systems includes forward collision and lane departure warnings, plus an alert if you fail to notice the vehicle ahead has set off.