The Garmin Dash Cam 20 is Garmin’s top-of-the-line camcorder, specially designed for recording your car trips if you feel unsafe on the road- whether it is for insurance, or to have a reliable witness if something ever happens, like an accident.
Garmin has been seeking other markets to go into, and they have managed to successfully stray away from their GPS-oriented products, even though global positioning systems made them what they are today.
The Garmin Dash Cam 20 is just behind the company’s VIRB Elite camcorder, and is ready to pounce, and leap ahead, in order to be known as the Garmin golden child. It offers GPS-enabled video recording, exactly like the VIRB Elite, but its goal is more serious.
The Garmin Dash Cam 20 Review
If you want to compare its design with another GPS dash cam available on the market, you won’t have many to pick. The Mio MiVue 388 Drive Recorder, which offers about the same features, and specifications as the Garmin 20, doesn’t have a built-in GPS, but it’s the only one worth comparing to.
It has a 2.3-inch LCD screen which can found on the back. Compared to Mio’s MiVue, it’s 0.1-inch short.
Both dash cams offer a variety of modes to record, each with different methods of operating. The Garmin suffers a bit in this department, because it offers just two modes. Again, one short when compared to the MiVue 388.
The Garmin 20 has a built-in GPS system, and the Garmin 10 has only a G-force sensor, but it’s tons cheaper. These two models can both shoot video at 1080p, at 720p, or the almost forgotten WVGA.
Naming the Garmin a dash cam is somewhat false, because the manufacturer didn’t design it to be placed on a dashboard, instead it’s more aimed to just hang from the top of the edge of your windscreen. The MiVue has also been designed for this.
Still, it’s used as a Garmin Dashboard Cam.
It comes equipped with a sort of mount that suctions the satellite navigation in place, a car power connector can be used to attach it to the dashboard cam through a mini USB. Buy a dual-socket adapter for your vehicle if you’re planning on using the satellite navigation at the same time. It won’t work any other way.
On the left of the device you’ll find its power button, along with a micro SD socket. It comes with a 4 GB capacity module – it can be found in the box.
The highest quality you can get out of the Garmin Dash Cam 20 is a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 at 30 fps. The 9 Mbits per second data rate is decent, but its not the best, performance wise, when compared with other newly released dashboard cams.
The 4 GB capacity module will fill up in about an hour if you choose the highest quality setting. Lower quality settings will push up the amount of footage recorded, but not by much, and the WVGA isn’t worth it if you plan on getting as much as you can out of the storage capacity.
But this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, because your video will be recorded as small 255 MB video files, and when your storage space is maxed out, it will continue to record on top of the older files.
If something happened, and you need to use the footage as evidence, you’ll rest assured that everything that occurred in the past hour, or so, is safely residing on your Garmin Dash Cam.
And because it has a built-in GPS which gives the exact date, time, location, and other information, such as speed, your video won’t be claimed as false evidence.
Your footage will be captured in an universal format – AVI. For encoding, the Garmin software goes with MPEG 4 AVC / H.264, which is known for outputting a rather artefact, and noise-free footage, but it is known to slip once in a while.
Your AVI video files can be transferred to any device, running any software that is compatible with the format.
The G-sensor implemented in your Garmin dash camera is aimed at providing event-based detection. If for any reason you can’t stop your dashcam, the software will mark them as incident-based, and won’t record over them when it recycles space for its continuous recording pattern.
The Garmin Dash Cam 10 also offers this kind of feature, regardless of the fact that it isn’t equipped with a global positioning system.
The cigarette lighter power socket is used as its main power source. It isn’t limited to just the cig-lighter socket, if you have any other means to give your device the crucial electrical juice you can use them, but make sure they are integrated with the car.
The Garmin Dash Cam 20 is super easy to use, and it can work straight out of the box. Just unbox it, install it on the dashboard of your vehicle, by default connect it to the cig-light power socket, and when you turn the car on, it will automatically start recording.
The screen isn’t a touch screen, and you’ll rely on using the buttons that can be found just underneath its display.
You’ll use buttons to navigate the menu, manually mark footage as protected, or take quick snapshots.
Yes, it can be used as a camera to take pictures, but I highly recommend you use your smartphone to do so. Mainly because the most affordable, low budget mobile device will be able to outperform Garmin’s picture-grabbing capabilities.
The dashcams-maker Garmin offers an in-house built piece of software for your PC, which you will use to watch your video. On the right side of the screen you’ll see a map, and the trajectory you took. It’s set by default to use Google Maps, but you can change it to BaiduMap.
Right underneath the map you’ll find information about speed, the start, and stop time of recording, and an events log which will showcase where the incident occurred.
Should I buy the Garmin Dash Cam 20?
If the thought of going on the road induces anxiety, maybe a dashcam is worth looking into. As far as recommending the Garmin Dash Cam 20, I don’t think I could. Not because it’s a performance-weak device, but because the Mio MiVue 388 is almost the same. Both of them retail at about the same price, but shops usually give random discounts, so you better see what price you can get for each of them, before acquiring either the Garmin, or the Mio.
Garmin Dash Cam 20 price $220.