Kenwood DRV-830 Review

Kenwood DRV-830 Review

Although it has a built-in LCD panel, unlike the X550, the F770 is the flagship dashcam from Thinkware. It is also available as a car-installation kit or as a removable unit for the same price – installation by Chameleon is an additional £59.99. A rear-view camera is also included in the £249 bundle.

Thinkware F770 – Shooting Specification

kenwood dash cam

Like its smaller sibling, the X550, the F770 uses a Sony Exmor CMOS sensor. Even though the sensor is smaller, the 2.19-megapixel resolution is still slightly lower than the X550’s, so the lower resolution actually increases sensitivity, since each pixel will be larger. However, you can only get Full HD 1080p at 30 frames per second, not Super HD.

On the front camera, the footage is recorded at 9.5Mbps bitrate, with mono 48kHz audio at 728Kbps, although one of the buttons on the unit allows you to turn off the audio. When the rear-view camera is attached, the footage is captured at a lower 8Mbps, along with mono audio at the same data rate.

All footage is recorded to microSD cards, either 16GB or 32GB depending on the bundle purchased. On a 16GB card, there’s enough space for around 200 minutes of footage from the front camera alone. With both front and rear cameras recording, a 16GB microSD card would record 112 minutes of video with audio. If the F770 loops, it will overwrite the oldest files with new ones, unless they are tagged as incidents.

Thinkware F770 – Mounting Options and Wi-Fi Connectivity

It’s a little different from other dashcams I’ve tested to mount the F770. The mounting is directly stuck to the windscreen, so it sits on top of the glass. This prevents it from being angled. Instead, the camera can be tilted so it points in the right direction – not up nor down, but just left or right. You can rotate the screwdriver by inserting a key, coin, or screwdriver into the large slot on the left.

Without a screen, it’s impossible to see where the lens is pointing. To make up for this shortcoming, the F770 comes with Wi-Fi access, which you can use by downloading a free app. It’s exactly the same as with action cameras that have WiFi access. To enable the wireless signal on the F770, press the Wi-Fi button, then use your smartphone to search for the network and enter the password specified in the quick-start guide.

Once the smartphone is connected to the F770’s Wi-Fi network, the app will connect to the F770 and the recording will be paused. You can then use the app to monitor live what the camera can see, with guide marks to ensure positioning is correct. I’ll be talking about some advanced features later in this review, so it’s important to have this.

With the rear-view camera attached (see below), you can switch between front and rear Live View. Both cameras have individual brightness controls in Dash Cam Settings, but all other settings are global and affect both devices. The wide-dynamic-range option enhances details in bright and dark areas.

The remaining settings are related to recording. These include adjusting the G-sensor sensitivity to detect impacts as incidents, configuring the Parking recording mode’s motion sensitivity, and turning on Super Night Vision. The device can also be set to turn itself off when the voltage falls below a certain level so that it doesn’t drain your battery when it’s in standby mode. You can also enable advanced options here.

The app allows you to browse recorded files by category. The examples include regular continuous recordings, those tagged as incidents, footage grabbed in Parking mode and incidents in Parking mode, plus manual recordings. Using Dual Save, you can also copy files. In this special feature, the built-in memory is used for incident recording, so that files can still be retrieved even if a removable memory card is damaged.

Thinkware F770 – Rear View Camera

Kenwood DRV-830 Review

The F770’s Rear View Camera is a bundle option that adds £50 to the price but includes a 32GB microSD card instead of a 16GB one. In addition to the Sony Exmor CMOS sensor and a lens, the camera contains little more than some processing circuitry. It sticks unobtrusively to a rear window using a small 3M adhesive patch.

The rest is provided by the main unit to which it is attached. In addition to the USB cable, no fixings are included. It’s either up to you to tidy the cable route around your car, or you can include it with the installation of the main unit.

When connected to the main unit, the rearview camera records footage alongside footage from the main unit. The recording begins and ends simultaneously. A 32GB microSD card is included to support the combined data rate of the Rear View Camera and the Front View Camera, which both have 2.19-megapixel CMOS sensors.

Thinkware F770 – Image Quality and Advanced Features

Thinkware boasts a high level of video quality for the F770, especially in low light, thanks to its noise reduction and Adaptive Colour & Contrast System (ACCE). Although this footage is on the higher end of what I’ve seen from other Full HD dashcams, there are some that offer better details in Super HD and above, especially the VicoVation Opia 2.

The rear camera also takes pretty good photos, as you might expect given that it has the same sensor and what looks like the same lens. Nevertheless, the lower data rate is also evident, with slightly softer detail and more visible artifacts in fast motion.

Here is a sample of footage taken with the Thinkware F770’s front camera, and here is a sample of footage taken with the Thinkware F770’s rear camera.

As well as being able to record videos of your travels, the app has a built-in GPS to store the location of the journey, which can be viewed using the desktop app. With the X550 as well, safety-camera alerts are announced clearly and accurately, making this a useful feature. On the Thinkware.com website, you can download free updated databases.

In addition, warnings will sound when you approach the car in front too closely, when you stray from your lane on a motorway, and when the car in front moves in a stationary traffic queue. Even though I’ve always found these features a bit gimmicky, they’re still available if you find them useful.

Pros Cons
Built-in GPS Smartphone required for setup and configuration
Parking Mode with a permanent installation No suction-cup mount included
Rear-view camera option

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £249.00
  • 1/2.9-inch 2.19MP Sony Exmor CMOS
  • MP4 recording at up to 1,920 x 1,080 and 30fps at 9.5Mbps
  • GPS sensor and G-sensor to detect accidents
  • Speed camera alerts
  • Rear-view camera option
  • Parking Surveillance Mode

Is the Thinkware F770 worth buying?

Features and image quality are good on the Thinkware F770. Even though it also comes with the X550, the rear-view camera is a useful and well-integrated optional extra that doesn’t add a lot to the price.

In the end, this is a pricey dashcam in total, and the lack of a screen and reliance on your smartphone makes it fiddly to set up at first, but its capabilities are extensive.

Verdict

In spite of its lack of a screen, the Thinkware F770’s dashcam features are extensive, especially if you add the optional rear-view camera to it.