– Dual channel dash cam
– Released 2023
– Max. resolution: front 4K (2160p), rear 2K (1440p)
– Price: Amazon US / CA – eBay US / AU – more countries & vendors (affiliate links)
– GPS / GLONASS
– Wi-Fi (2.4 or 5 GHz)
– Video format: MP4 H.265
– Ambarella H22A77 processor
– Time and date stamp on video
– Lock file button
– Loop recording, auto on/off, G-Sensor, motion detection
– Parking modes: Motion, Time Lapse, Energy Saving, and Radar
– Includes built-in radar module for parking mode
– Low-voltage cutoff
– Operating temperature: from -10°C to 60°C (14°F to 140°F)
– Storage temperature: from -20°C to 70°C (-4°F to 158°F)
– Supports up to 256GB MicroSD cards
– Apps for Android / iOS
– Internal capacitor instead of battery
– Internal microphone and speaker
– Adhesive mount
– CPL filter (included)
– Cloud connectivity
– Voice notifications
– Max. resolution: 3840×2160 (4K) @ 30fps
– Aperture: f/1.8
– Bit rate: 30Mbps
– Size: 98mm x 70mm x 56mm (2.75″ x 3.86″ x 2.19″)
– Weight: 133g (0.293 lb)
– 8MP Sony Starvis 2 sensor
– Angle of view: 152° diagonal
– Max. resolution: 2560×1440 @ 30fps
– Bit rate: 10Mbps
– Size: 79mm x 37mm x 32mm (3.11″ x 1.46″ x 1.26″)
– 5MP Sony IMX335 Starvis 1 sensor
– Angle of view: 128° diagonal
Thinkware U3000 Review
The first thing that strikes the eye about the U3000 is how elegant it looks. With its upper surface designed to attach directly to the windshield, it doesn’t need one of those clumsy suction-cup mounts that were typical for many older dash cams.
While the U3000 looks bulkier than its predecessor, it is actually a bit shorter than the U1000. It’s also wider and higher, and thus a bit more noticeable from outside the vehicle.
The Thinkware U3000’s size is mainly due to having integrated radar units in both the front and rear cameras. Radar-assisted parking mode is a unique feature of Thinkware dash cams: As of 2023, no other dash cam supports this.
The U3000 has no screen. On its inward-facing side, there are 4 buttons, including a large lock file button. The other 3 buttons are for power, Wi-Fi on/off, and microphone on/off.
There are also 3 status LEDs on the camera: One to indicate recording, one for Bluteooth/Wi-Fi, and one for GPS.
You will mainly operate this dash camera with over Wi-Fi, using your smart phone. A free app is available for Android and iOS. The app will first connect to the camera using Bluetooth, and then set up the Wi-Fi connection. This makes connecting the app to the dash cam fairly straightforward (it could sometimes be quite a hassle with older cameras).
The forward facing lens records 4K video (3840×2160 pixels) at 30 frames per second (fps), and the rear camera records 2K (2560×1440 pixels, also known as QHD), also at 30fps.
Despite using Sony’s brand new Starvis 2 sensor for the front camera, video quality hasn’t improved much form the older Thinkware U1000. Maybe this is because of the relatively low bit rate — 30Mbps just isn’t that much for a 4K video stream. (For comparison, the Viofo A139 Pro 2CH also records 4K, at bit rate of 45Mbps.)
Nevertheless, the forward camera’s video quality is very good during the day, and good at night. The rear camera records only fair video quality, during both day and night.
This means that you will be able to capture license plates with the forward camera in most situations. With the rear camera though, license plate readability is more hit-and-miss.
Why The Low Bit Rate?
The forward camera records 30 Mbps (Megabits per second) at its maximum setting. Its “standard” setting is even lower, at only 24 Mbps. And the rear camera’s maximum is 10 Mbps.
Having a low bit rate is detrimental to video quality. That said, however, it does have advantages of its own. For one, it reduces storage size (obviously). Second, it reduces power consumption. This is especially useful in parking mode. Less power also means it will generate less heat. And third, if you are going to use the U3000’s live view over-the-cloud feature, it is of course much faster to stream a lower bit rate video than a higher bit rate one.
Does this negate the camera’s 4K image quality? To a certain extent, yes, it does. However, the U3000’s overall image quality is still wholly satisfactory for a high-end dash cam.
The U3000 supports up to 256GB memory cards. A card of that size can hold 500 minutes (8.3 hours) of video.
Radar-Powered Buffered Parking Mode
One of the biggest differences to the Thinkware U1000 (and to all other dash cams, really) is that the U3000 comes with a radar module for parking mode built in. Thus, you no longer need to buy a separate radar unit to take full advantage of the camera’s parking mode capabilities.
Thinkware are the only dash cam manufacturer that use radar for motion detection. When motion or an impact is detected, a video clip starting 10 seconds before and ending 10 seconds after the event is saved to the memory card (also known as buffered parking mode).
Radar-assisted parking mode allows for very low power consumption. When used with a battery pack such as the Thinkware iVolt Xtra (available separately), the U3000 can run in parking mode for a whopping 40 days before the battery needs recharging.
NOTE OF CAUTION: Some users have complained that the radar for the rear camera does not work. Others say that it is working fine for them though. Thinkware have been made aware of this issue and will hopefully fix it in the near future.
Other Parking Modes
Apart from Radar Parking Mode, the Thinkware U3000 also supports 3 other types of parking mode:
- Motion Detection: Same as Buffered Parking mode. When movement or an impact is detected, saves a video from 10s before to 10s after the event
- Time Lapse: Records at 2fps continually
- Energy Saving: Records only when an impact is detected (from 1s to 20s after the event)
Like all dash cams, the U3000 needs a power supply for parking mode to work. One option is to use a battery pack, as mentioned above. These are quite expensive though.
A much cheaper, and equally effective, option is to either hard-wire the dash cam to the car’s fuse box, or to connect it to the car’s OBD-II port. A free OBD-II cable is included with the U3000.
Thinkware’s cloud supports the following features:
- Live view: Watch video from your dash cam remotely on your phone
- Impact notifications: Sends an alert to your phone when an impact is detected
- Geo-fencing: Receive an alert when your car leaves a specified area
- Locate vehicle: Find your car using GPS
A mobile internet access point is necessary so the dash cam can connect to the cloud. This is not included in the camera. (The only dash cams that include an access point are the BlackVue LTE models.)
For more information about Thinkware’s and other brands’ clouds, check out this article.
Live view over the cloud will not work in Energy Saving or Radar parking modes. This makes sense because live view needs you to be constantly connected to the internet, which consumes power, thus negating the concept of saving energy.
The camera’s English language user manual is 34 pages long. It thoroughly describes the camera’s installation and features.
Despite using Sony’s new Starvis 2 sensor, the Thinkware U3000’s video quality hasn’t changed much compared to the predecessor (U1000). That being said, overall video quality remains at a high level, though cameras recording at a higher bit rate have an advantage.
What truly sets the U3000 apart from the competition is without a doubt its radar-powered parking mode. As of today, no other dash cam supports the use of radar.
This, together with its support for live video streaming and other cloud features, makes the U3000 the most technically advanced dash cam currently available (as of October 2023).
- Elegant design
- Radar-Assisted Parking Mode supported out-of-the-box (no need for an extra radar module or a hard wiring kit)
- Easy setup for parking mode with OBD-II cable
- Easy connectivity to the app using Bluetooth
- Cloud connectivity, including live video streaming and impact notifications (needs internet access point)
- High price
- Rear camera radar has been reported to be defective in some units
Thinkware U3000 Video Samples
For full original video quality, make sure to watch on full screen and select maximum video resolution (use the cog icon in lower right corner). You may have to rewind the video after changing the resolution.
At day, forward video quality is very good. You can read most license plates of nearby cars when driving by.
Rear video quality at day is fair only, and it’s quite hard to read any license plates.
Forward video at night is good. We are sometimes able to read license plates, but many are washed out by our headlights unfortunately.
Rear video at night is fair. We are only able to read license plates of other cars when they are stopped directly behind us, at a traffic light or such. (Video to follow)
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