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Thinkware U3000 In-Depth Review

Everything you need to know about Thinkware's latest 4K STARVIS 2 dash cam

Reasons to get the Thinkware U3000

After the Thinkware U1000’s four-year reign as the best dash cam, Thinkware has finally unveiled the Thinkware U3000 - which we now consider as the most premium, smartest, and highly-advanced dash cam to date. In this article, we put this best to a test to see if it truly deserves the new title, and if it’s a worthwhile investment for drivers out there.

BlackVue Dash Cams BlackVue DR750-2CH LTE Cloud Dash Cam

✅ 4K UHD front + 2K QHD rear

✅ Sony STARVIS 2 IMX678 Sensor

✅ Super Night Vision 4.0

✅ Built-in Dual-band Wi-Fi and GPS

✅ Thinkware CONNECTED

✅ Built-in Bluetooth

✅ Built-in RADAR sensor

✅ Energy Saving Mode 2.0 and Smart Parking Mode

✅ Best Heat Resistance

✅ Advanced Driver Assist Systems

What’s inside the box?

  • Front camera
  • Rear camera
  • OBD power cable
  • Mount
  • 12V car charger
  • Trim tool
  • Heat blocking film
  • Adhesive cable holder
  • 64GB MicroSD memory card with adapter
  • Thinkware CPL filter
  • Rear Camera Cable (7.5m / 24.5ft)
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty

Design

Like other Thinkware dash cams, the Thinkware U3000 looks sleek in its smooth matte black finish. We find it discreet, measuring only 2.75 X 3.86 X 2.19 inches, but it does have a larger front plate compared to the U1000. While still a slim unit, its wider longer size is due to its built-in radar sensor, something brand-new that we’ll talk about later.

While the front of the U3000 itself doesn’t rotate, the front plate with the lens can be rotated about 60 degrees. Moreover, it also has a new crossed ventilation grill design for better cooling, on the underside.

Unlike previous models, the Thinkware U3000 no longer includes a hardwiring kit. It now comes standard with an OBD-II power cable for parking mode. Yes, it will still enable parking mode, and is easier to install since it’s plug-and-play.

More on the package, Thinkware has included a 64GB micro SD, plus a heat-blocking film for direct sunlight protection, and a CPL filter to reduce glares and reflections that works best with the BlackboxMyCar Aqua Shield. The heat-blocking film is an especially neat add-on, sitting between the windshield and your camera’s adhesive, dissipating the heat.

Thinkware U3000 Image Quality and Video Capabilities

Now, let’s talk about the biggest upgrade – video quality. Similar to the Thinkware U1000, the Thinkware U3000 also records 4K @ 30 frames per second video resolution for the front camera. However, the difference is in the details here, as the U3000 is now using the latest 8.24-megapixel Sony STARVIS 2 IMX 678 image sensor technology. This is the industry’s most advanced image sensor technology that highly improves low-light performance and contrast, providing high resolution and clarity, while also lowering power consumption in parking mode. Additionally, the U3000 is equipped with Super Night vision 4.0 technology for further improving low light performance.

We’ve gone and tested the Super Night Vision 4.0, and it has levelled up nighttime footage. Just like how the 2023 BlackVue DR970X 4K UHD dash cam boasts its better ISP tuning, white balance and contrast, and higher bitrate, the Thinkware U3000 also sports these upgrades – and when paired with the Sony STARVIS 2 technology? The Thinkware U3000, in our opinion, does an even better job. Overall, these upgrades are mainly due to the new Ambarella H22A77 processor and a DDR3 4GB RAM.

In terms of the field of view, Thinkware is generous with a 158-degree wide-angle lens, which enables you to see more lanes of the road ahead. The U3000’s field of view is a tad higher than the BlackVue DR970X’s 155-degree view and the VIOFO A139 Pro’s narrower 140-degree for the front lens. We also found that the Thinkware U3000 is equipped with Dewarping technology to ensure that all front footage is recorded with minimal distortion.

For the Thinkware U3000’s rear camera, this secondary cam is also equipped with a 5-megapixel Sony STARVIS IMX335, covering an angle of 128-degrees. It delivers 2K @ 30 frames per second. However, another thing that we noticed in the U3000’s rear camera is how it rotates. We found that it’s designed to be rotated with a coin slot, so it’s kinda complex in a way.

Thinkware U3000 Recording and Parking Modes

We mentioned earlier that the U3000 is the first ever Thinkware to have the Sony STARVIS 2 tech, and the Super Night Vision 4.0. That doesn’t end there, as the U3000 is also the first dash cam to have a built-in radar sensor. This means that you no longer have to purchase a separate Thinkware RADAR module which could cost you an additional $99.

The radar sensor feature is already built right here in the unit – not only on the front cam, but for the rear cam as well, the first dash cam on the market with a radar sensor rear camera. This means that when a person or vehicle is detected while the dash cam is in a low-power recording mode, the Thinkware U3000 will immediately wake up and start recording. The sensitivity can be set to a 1 meter minimum, and 5 meter max.

And standard to Thinkware dash cams, you get motion detection, impact detection, time lapse and Energy Saving Mode 2.0. When activated, Thinkware’s Energy Saving Parking mode saves a 20-sec video clip only after an impact has been detected. This allows the U3000 to reduce its power consumption and remain in Parking mode for a longer duration.

We compared the Energy Saving Mode 2.0 in a Thinkware U1000 dash cam and found that it can last for 99.6 hours or 4.1 days, regardless if it’s a single or dual-channel version. Meanwhile, for the new Thinkware U3000, it can last for 535.7 hours for 22.3 days for 1-channel, and 489.1 hours or 20.4 days for 2-channel models.

Aside from this, the Thinkware U3000 also has Smart Parking Mode. With this parking mode, if the temperature inside your car becomes too high or too low during Parking mode, the U3000 will automatically switch to a low-power mode. It will only record incidents triggered by impacts until the temperature is safe to resume Motion Detection or Timelapse Parking mode.

Beyond that, in our limited time with this unit, we’ve let it sit idle for multiple days straight of constant driving recording, and were incredibly surprised to find that the unit was only slightly warm! Considering the resolution and image quality this is packing, we wouldn’t be surprised to feel it burning up like other similar models.

Thinkware U3000 Safety and Convenience Features

Aside from the built-in GPS antenna in the Thinkware U3000, it also boasts the Thinkware core Advanced Driver Assist System features that no other dash cam brand has offered to date. With its Safety Camera Alert feature, you will receive audio warnings from your U3000 when approaching a wide variety of road safety cameras, including Red Light Warning system, Speed Camera Warning system, Red Light and Speed Camera Warning system, Average Speed Warning system, and a Mobile Zone warning system.

And for the Advanced Driver Assist System, it keeps you protected with the standard Thinkware ADAS like Forward Collision Warning system, Front Vehicle Departure Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and a new addition, Rear Collision Warning system. We must say that this Thinkware U3000 sure has a lot of alerts, so it’s really helpful to keep you awake and in the know when you drive, keeping you away from possible dangers.

If you think the U3000 is still the classic Thinkware chatterbox, for one - it’s not anymore. We also discovered that the volume of the audio notifications can be adjusted separately. So if you want it louder for ADAS and Safety Camera Alerts, you can adjust it separately from the system notifications volume.

Finally, in terms of storing your videos, the Thinkware U3000 provides a free 64GB Micro SD card with every purchase. But if you want more storage, the U3000 can support up to 256GB micro SD - a hearty improvement from the 128GB of the U1000.

Thinkware U3000 - Cloud Connectivity

Another reason to get the Thinkware U3000 is its fresh connectivity features. Previous Thinkware models, and other dash cams solely depend on Wi-Fi for connectivity. Now, the Thinkware U3000 makes connecting easier with built-in Bluetooth connectivity.

Thinkware has improved their Bluetooth connection so that it alone can be used to perform simple in-app actions like changing settings, overviewing parking mode events, and other basic functions. Still, Wi-Fi is used for heavier tasks like streaming that 4k footage to your phone. It’s equipped with 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi capabilities.

On the other hand, the Cloud connectivity of the Thinkware U1000 was admittedly rather basic, so there’s some drastic improvements here with the new Thinkware Connected app. All you need is an account for Thinkware Connected, which used to have a limited 3-month free trial, but now, we’re happy to say that Thinkware Connected is now free to use, unlimitedly.

Going over Thinkware Connected features, the U3000 lets you enjoy remote Impact Notifications when Parked and driving, sending Emergency Messages, Remote Live-View, Vehicle Status and Geo-Fencing. Some recent add-ons that we think are particularly impressive are the ability to monitor the live voltage of the vehicle, and remotely turn off the camera through the app as needed. Beyond that, they now have a full driving history map too, which can provide multiple months worth of driving data, if needed.

Though to be clear, the U3000 will still need an internet connection for the camera if you want to use the Thinkware Connected Cloud features. You’ll also need to have the unit in one of the more standard parking modes, as using the energy-saving mode with the radar will disable the cloud while parked, to conserve power.

Final Verdict

Four years after the launch of the Thinkare U1000, we see the Thinkware U3000 as a successor that’s definitely worth the wait. From best video resolution with Sony STARVIS 2 and Super Night Vision 4.0; best security with built-in RADAR, ADAS, multiple parking modes; and smooth connectivity with built-in Bluetooth and Thinkware Connected - the Thinkware U3000 is a real standout. With this dash cam’s excellent and super advanced features that you can’t see anywhere else, we can say that the Thinkware U3000 gives you solid protection, and solid investment.

Shop the Thinkware U3000

The Thinkware U3000 is the industry’s most advanced dash cam, thanks to its Sony STARVIS 2 image sensors, Super Night Vision 4.0, built-in Bluetooth, built-in RADAR sensor, ADAS, and more. If you want to maximize your Thinkware U3000 experience, check out our Exclusive Signature Bundles and save more on this smart investment! Shop yours now, only here at BlackboxMyCar!

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