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Topdon TCView TC002 review: Disappointing take on a thermal camera

The Topdon TCView TC002 Review.

Topdon TCView TC002

2.0 / 5

The Topdon TCView TC002 infrared camera promises to extend the iPhone's light-collecting capabilities by stretching into the infrared portion of the spectrum, but it's not a good choice.

Thermal cameras are priceless tools for many individuals, including those working with HVAC, automotive, electronics, and wildlife. Topdon promises the TC002 is a lightweight and compact thermal solution that is the perfect companion to your iPhone for every job site, garage, or forest, where seeing the unseen is critical.

Topdon TCView TC002 review — specifications and capabilities

The TC002 has plug-and-play capabilities, meaning users can take it out of the box, plug it into an iPhone, and automatically download the TopInfrared app from the App Store. Although the model we received sports the Lightning connector, Topdon is releasing a USB-C version with an adaptor to support the new iPhone 15's port.

See the unseen heat that is only visible in infrared.
See the unseen heat that is only visible in infrared.

According to Topdon, the TC002 has a 256x192 resolution, with a viewable temperature range of -4 degrees F-1,022 degrees F (-20 degrees C-550 degrees C). The TC002 has a maximum tolerance of +/-3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C), allowing for a temperature precision of 40 millikelvin.

The TC002 supports 11 color schemas, including black-and-white, blue-heavy, green-heavy, red-heavy, and gold-heavy hues. And like other infrared cameras on the market, the TC002 has a 25Hz refresh rate capable of capturing video and photos.

Within the TopInfrared app, users have quite a bit of control, including zoom functions, contrast and brightness controls, dual-light picture-in-picture, and shutter controls. The app even supports temperature monitoring, making it well-equipped for automotive work, HVAC diagnostics, and wildlife monitoring.

In the box, the TC002 comes with a decent-quality semi-hard case, an extension cord for maneuverability, a cleaning cloth, and a quick-start guide. Initial impressions of the product were solid, but when we took a deeper look, we found some disappointing aspects of the TC002.

Topdon TCView TC002 review — the quality is more miss than hit

Our first impressions out of the box were that the TC002 was high-quality. It has an almost Space Gray hue, the carrying case provides protection with foam inserts, and the extension cord is a braided cable.

You can see the gap when using the extension cable.
You can see the gap when using the extension cable.

While the carrying case is a solid protective, the rest of the setup leaves much to be desired. First, the TC002's housing is what appears to be a blend of aluminum and plastic, with the latter being the predominant material, especially around the sensor and Lightning plug.

Connecting the TC002 to an iPhone is also less than satisfying, with plenty of play side-to-side and front-to-back. Likewise, the braided cable has even more slack between connections on all sides, without a snug fit on the entire setup.

These issues were a problem on multiple iPhones, which doesn't bode well for other TCView models. Plus, with an adapter looming for iPhone 15 users, the fit could be weaker still.

Topdon TCView TC002 review — solid image quality

Plumbers, HVAC techs, home inspectors, and wildlife enthusiasts all rely on high-quality infrared images to peer into a world inaccessible to visible light and our eyeballs. The TCView TC002 does provide solid image quality and the ability to record video despite the occasional delay.

The TC002 can render high-quality infrared images.
The TC002 can render high-quality infrared images.

The TC002 can view light from about 8 micrometers to about 14 micrometers with a pixel size of 12 micrometers, which puts it in line with other infrared cameras. It's possible to see images in almost life-like detail, and the transparent, dual-light feature allows users to view both real-world and infrared images simultaneously.

Additionally, we found the comprehensive number of features available in the TopInfrared app handy in dialing in how images render. The level of customization makes the TC002 infrared camera a practical addition to the toolbox or bird-watching supplies.

Topdon TCView TC002 - a high price to pay for infrared

Topdon offers a wide range of products, and the TCView TC002 is only one of many thermal camera options available from the brand. While It does have questionable build quality, the TC002 almost makes up for it with a capable app and high-quality image.

However, for the nearly $300, we wish the housing was completely aluminum, and the connections were snug with a satisfying snap together. Overall, it's a somewhat disappointing package.

Topdon TCView: pros

  • Decent image and video quality
  • Compact and lightweight package
  • Comes with case and extension cable

Topdon TCView: cons

  • Questionable build quality
  • Extension cable doesn't feel secure
  • No wireless option
  • Pricey compared with other options

Rating: 2 out of 5

Where to buy the Topdon TCView

You can buy the Topdon TCView TC002 from many retailers, including Amazon, Shopify, and eBay. Prices range from $240 to $299, depending on the retailer, but most retailers do offer coupons or discounts.