I was in a bad car crash 4 years ago on the ring road of Barcelona. I had a truck driving into the back of my car at 70 Kmph whilst I was stationary. Luckily I saw it all happen whilst looking in my revision mirror and I braced myself for the impact. I got out of the car with no injuries bar a shock of just realising what just happened. I took photos of the accident on my phone which I was glad that I did, as some Spanish officials made me sign a form which demolished the car before the insurers could asses if it was a write off or not. It took me almost a year to get my final payout.

I did realise that had I been injured and if I was taken away in an ambulance. I may never have had the opportunity to take the photo’s of the car. As a result I would never had any payout. I was in a state of shock and therefore, looking back, a dash cam would have proved the accident and also the criminals would have been prosecuted.

A dash cam could have provided the vital evidence. Four years later I am finally installing and using my first dash cam in the Thinkware X550 thanks to a review model sent to me. For me there is no turning back.

Key Features

  • 1/2.9-inch 2.4-megapixel Sony CMOS
  • MP4 recording at up to 1,920 x 1,080 and 30fps
  • 2.7-inch display with 320 x 240 pixels
  • GPS sensor with GLONASS
  • G-sensor to detect accidents
  • Speed-camera alerts
  • Parking Surveillance mode
  • Manufacturer: Thinkware
  • Review Price: £169.00

Whats Is In The Box

The X550 comes in a square box which includes the following:

  • Main dash cam unit
  • Mount with 3M tape
  • Car charger
  • 5 adhesive cable holders
  • A 16Gb MicroSD memory card with SD adapter
  • USB MicroSD card reader
  • Quick start guide
  • Some quick UK specific mounting instructions

A full manual can only be found in a downloadable PDF file on the Thinkware website.

Thinkware X550 Specs

The Thinkware X550 is a dashboard camera that can record in Full HD. From reading the specifications this dashcam has Super Night Vision and a built in GPS which will warn for speed cameras. The X550 allows for a second camera to be installed to record what is behind you. The X550 has a 1/2.9 inch sony Exmor sensor with 2.4 megapixels. This is a good size sensor, which allows for greater recording in dark situations. This Super Nigh Vision is even further enhanced with some image processing to make the footage brighter. The 16GB Micro SD card is good for 2hrs and 4mins of continual recording before looping occurs. The maximum size MicroSD card that can be used is the 64GB size. When an incident happens the recording is also stored on the camera’s internal memory. This greatly improves the chances of data being recovered in a severe crash.

The built in GPS comes with GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), which means it uses both the American GPS as well use the Russian one for faster lock-ons and better accuracy. It also helps in Russia where dash cams are in almost any car and is a huge market for this industry.

Installation

Installation of the Thinkware X550 was pretty straight forward. There is a mount which uses double-sided 3M tape to stick it to the window. The camera easily slides into the mount. There are two options to power the camera, one in which the power comes from your cigarette power socket or the second option which is a bit harder in which the X550 is permanently powered via a direct wire. The second option can also be installed by a company called Chamelon which can do this for £59.99. I used the easy option which was to route the cable with the provide clips along the edge of the window and below the glove box compartment to the cigarette power socket.

Parking Mode

With the permanent wiring, the unit automatically switches to Parking Mode when you turn off the ignition and switches to full recording when you start up. With this mode enabled, when a shock is detected, the camera will store a recording. It will then notify you how many times this has happened when you start up. It also has the option of recording a time-lapse series of images of one image per second. If you are hit whilst parked you might get a recording of the offender. To prevent battery drainage there is a battery level which you can configure so the camera will automatically switch off. With my next car I will definitely go for the direct wire option and enable this useful feature.

Second Camera

The X550 has the option of attaching a second camera to record what is happening at the rear of the car. This secondary camera cost around £65 and comes with a long lead with a micro USB connector to connect to the main camera unit. With the second camera attached the total recording time will be halved, so better to go here for a 64GB MicroSD card.

Optional 2nd Camera for the Thinkware X550

Connecting to the Computer

To read the files on your computer you will need to use the MicroSD to SD adapter that is supplied or the MicroSD USB card reader which also comes in the box. Upon viewing the recorded footage on a PC I find it to be of good quality and very smooth. Thinkware has an excellent PC viewer application that can match the recorded video to your speed, impact sensor and the location with the use of Google maps. You will hardly use it but it is perfect when you are in an accident and you need as much proof as possible.

Using It

When I start the car the camera turns on and a voice will tell me that the GPS is connected. It is that simple, once every few weeks I get a voice reminder telling me that I need to format the MicroSD card for data integrity, which is done via one push on a button. There is a warning beep when you get too close to the car in front, this gets triggered a lot by overtaking cars that suddenly come in front of the car. It also gets triggered a lot if you take windy mountain roads, with trees our rocks triggering the alarm. I find it beeps too much for me for the wrong reasons for me to want to change my driving. There are quite a few triggers warning systems that can be enabled, like Lane Departure Warning and Front Vehicle Departure Warning. You can turn these warning systems on or off.

The speed camera warning system comes from the GPS position which maps it to a speed cam data file, which can be downloaded from the Thinkware website. This is handy when there is no Sat Nav in the car, which also can provide you with speed camera data.

Conclusion

The Thinkware X550 has everything you want in a dash cam, maybe too much when it comes to similar features that are now introduced in new cars. The option of a second camera is very useful and something that I would consider to record those accidents or tailgaters behind my car. The Thinkware X550 is easy to install and easy to operate.

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