Thinkware's entry level offering has always been a favourite of ours as they offer almost the same level of functionality as their higher end flagship dash cams (such as the F800 Pro or Q800 Pro). Last year, we were mainly selling the F50 and F100 dash cams which were well priced but were difficult to set up since they didn't have WiFi and the video quality frankly wasn't great. Checking out this sample footage from our friends over at BlackboxMyCar, you could see that the camera is very grainy at night and license plates were only legible when the car in front was not moving and within a car length away. The colours on the F50/F100 sample footage are also quite washed out.
When Thinkware released the F200 and FA200, we thought this was simply the F100 with the addition of WiFi. We weren't expecting much as the price point was only about $30 higher than the F100 which is well worth it for the WiFi feature alone. The rear camera is actually the same unit used in the F100 with the same wiring with the same 720P resolution. Like the F100 we also have an optional interior infrared camera and exterior mounted waterproof rear camera option as well. In fact, all of the wiring and mounts from the F50 and F100 can be used making the FA200/F200 a relatively easy upgrade.
Beyond the WiFi feature, the FA200 also adds a new and improved front camera mount. The new mount is all black making it less visible than the clear mount used on the F50 and F100 while also having a more solid mounting nut so it would be less likely to be knocked out of the proper viewing angle than before. The camera is slightly wider than the old unit but the flat all-black design is still very discreet. We also like the camera's low power consumption as this translates to significantly longer parking recording time than most dash cams from Thinkware and Blackvue.
Perhaps most importantly, the new Ambarella A12 processor on the FA200 delivers much better video quality than the F50 and F100. The rear camera still leaves a little to be desired but the front camera offers excellent clarity. Those with tinted rear windows should consider moving up to the F800 Pro or Q800 Pro which offer a 1080P rear camera with Sony STARVIS sensors that perform much better in low light.
The F800 Pro is almost $200 more than the FA200 when you add in the rear camera but the low light performance is definitely better. It also adds internal GPS which can be used for time sync, speed display, and safety camera alerts (red light/speed camera). The WiFi function is also better on the F800 Pro as it allows streaming of videos without downloading and download speeds are faster.
All in all though, for less than the price of your average insurance deductible the FA200 offers unbeatable value for money. True parking mode with pre-buffered motion detection, WiFi, and decent video quality are the takeaways with this new entry level camera from Thinkware. They've upped the ante with a compact basic camera that ticks all the boxes for a first-time dash cam buyer.