Top positive review
4.0 out of 5 starsCompact Camera that does the job, but app connectivity and speed can be improved
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on September 20, 2021
I primarily bought this dash cam because it is small and does not have a display screen in hopes that it would be less visible and appealing to potential thieves. I mounted it behind my rear-view mirror and was able to easily hide the power cable in the trim of my car without the need for any tools (other than a credit card to help push the included 4m / 13 feet long cable into the trim). The end result is that it is difficult to see from outside the car unless you are looking for it. At a distance, light reflection off the windshield makes it very difficult to notice, especially when it blends into my black rear view mirror.
The package includes the dash cam, two cables (one thin 13 ft cable used to hide in the trim, one shorter 5 ft cable to run straight down to your USB port - both are Micro USB to USB-A cables), two adhesive mounts (1 is a spare), and one dual USB car charger that outputs 5VDC at 2.4A total to allow you to plug both your Dash Cam and phone in simultaneously. A MicroSDHC or MicroSDXC is required to record videos but is not included.
Video quality is good (1080p 30fps HDR, 2.1 MP, 140 deg viewing angle) but don't expect to be able to easily read license plates. I had difficulty reading license plates with the camera when stopped 1.5 car lengths back in daylight even though it was clear to the naked eye. My tip is to park behind another car and switch to live view with your phone and adjust your camera angle until you can read the license plate. This unit would be better if it were 4K.
Voice control is excellent and extremely responsive. I was able to say "OK Garmin, save video" or "take a picture" without any problems even when I had music playing and was driving on the highway. It was never confused when I voice controlled my phone ("OK google"). While you can also press a button to manually initiate a video recording, voice control is extremely convenient to capture a picture or event without removing your hands from the wheel.
The dash cam turns on quickly when you turn on your car and beeps when recording starts (there is also a red light at the bottom indicating it is recording). You can choose to have audio on or off. It records consistently and does its job. It also beeps to confirm when a video or photo is saved. It also automatically saves videos in the case of an incident (accident). In the last 2 weeks, I had two false incidents recorded (one I hit a small bump in the road, the other I was actually stationary), but false incident detections appear rare and aren't a big deal anyway. Incidents or manual recordings are saved permanently until you delete them, while all other videos of your normal driving are automatically replaced when you run out of storage space.
It does not have a built in battery so it does not record video when you turn off your car. If you want to use the Parking Guard feature to detect incidents when the car is off, you need to purchase a Constant Power Cable to connect it to your OBD II port (not your USB port).
The Garmin Drive App works to view pictures and videos and to change settings. This only works when the dash cam is powered (which means your car is on). You can connect to the dash cam using bluetooth to see previews of the stored images, but cannot view the actual pictures or videos unless you connect to it through WiFi. Unfortunately connecting to the dash cam through WiFi is a very poor experience. It is extremely slow to connect and does not always connect. It is also a slow process to download the videos to your phone. The main problem is most people check their videos when they get home. At that point, your phone usually connects to your home or work WiFi automatically. It appears this can at times conflict with connecting to your Dash Cam through WiFi. As you can only view videos and pictures when connected through WiFi, this is a problem. Hopefully they fix this in future updates to the app. Fortunately you don't need to connect to your Dash Cam every day, only when you need to see a video. In many ways, it is easier to just pop out your microSD card and manually copy the videos to your computer.
The Garmin Vault feature is a nice concept (storing your videos on the cloud) but from a practical standpoint isn't useful because you need to manually send each video to the cloud which is a slow process (you need to use the Garmin Drive App). It also only stays in the vault for 1 day unless you pay more. This would work better if it had a small battery and allowed for background uploading of videos to the cloud while your car is off.
This is an excellent dash cam in terms of its primary job of consistently recording high quality videos and functioning as it should. It has excellent voice control, and its small size makes it less visible to potential thieves. Where it loses points is the connectivity issues with the Garmin Drive App to view the videos.
Overall I am happy with my purchase, but would be happier if it were 4K, if the Garmin Drive App connected consistently and were faster, and if a battery were built in.