Which Garmin Dash Cam Should I Buy?August 7, 2019
Which Garmin dashcam you should buy depends on many factors. We made this guide to help you make the best choice.
It seems like an unnecessary expense, but when it comes to buying a dashcam, it’s a wise investment in the “better safe than sorry” category. In doing a little research online (being the Google master that I am), I actually found that, on average, most people experience about 4 car accidents in their lifetime. Imagine if you had a camera during these times!
Having lived between three major cities- DC, Los Angeles, and Atlanta- I know that these statistics must increase in highly populated areas, because I’ve had more than my fair statistical share of bad, busy, belligerent drivers hit, and even total, my car.
And sadly, in none of these cases did I have someone else in the car to witness it, or a camera to capture it.
But don’t worry, I get it, there’s nothing more frustrating than a tech review article for the average Joe looking for help that lists specs in terminology no one but geeks can understand. So I’ll keep it real simple for ya’ so you can save time and money, and get a dashcam with the features you’re actually looking for.
When looking for a dashcam there are four main things you want to look out for:
Video Resolution (How clear the picture is)
-The higher the pixels, the better the quality. USA Today suggests buying a dashcam with at least 1080p (“p” is for pixels!)
-You don’t want low storage that will erase the footage if any event goes down! At the very least, any driver should shoot for 32GB.
Low-light capability (Night vision)
-This is critical. The National Safety Council states that you are 3x more likely to get into a fatal crash at night. Robberies occur at night, vision is impaired, you absolutely must have a dashcam that has good night vision!
Angle of shooting
-Do you want a camera that only records the space in front of the car? The inside? Inside, outside, rear, side, everywhere!?! Perhaps you want a dashcam only for recording the passengers you cart around? Whether you want a camera that shoots footage inside of your car or not, you should definitely at least consider getting one that gets as close to shooting 180° angles as possible, because you never know what side someone might hit it if there’s an accident, and if it gets 180° you can cover at least one full end of the car and not sit there thinking “Dangit! What did I even buy this thing!?!” when someone side-swipes you and you’ve only got a front-end 15° camera. (I don’t think anyone sells that cheap of a camera, but hey, you never know with the internet.)
So without further ado, here is an easy-peasy chart to help you compare the differences between the Garmin Mini, 35, 45, 55, 65W, and 66W dashcams:
|Type of Camera:||Mini||35||45||55||65W||66W|
(can be changed lower/higher via the device settings)
|1440p, 1080p60fps, 1080pHDR, 1080p30fps, 720p||1080p,|
|1440p, 1080, 720p|
Field of View
|Frame Rate||≤30 FPS||≤30 FPS||≤30 FPS||≤ 60 FPS||≤30 FPS||≤60 FPS|
|Power Source||Plug-in (with built-in capacitor)||Plug-in only||Rechargeable lithium-ion battery||Rechargeable lithium-ion battery||Rechargeable lithium-ion battery||rechargeable lithium-ion|
(The size of microSD card provided)
|Screen Size||N/A||3 inches||2 inches||2 inches||2 inches||2 inches|
|Monitors Car While Parked |
(Motion detection when engine is off)
|Warnings for red lights (and speed cameras, if applicable)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Forward Collision Warning||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
(This feature “captures still photos from your recording and arranges them into a short video of your trip. The rate of capture is based on how fast you drive at any given point during the recording.”)
Lane Departure Warning
Mobile App Footage Review
Overall Best Bang for Your Buck
My personal choice out of the Garmin group of cameras would be the 55.
Garmin’s cameras are all spectacular choices, as any will help keep you safe, but the 55 ranks as my #1 because it comes with all of the options I’ve listed above, has a fairly wide field of vision, and prices in relatively cheap for a dashcam- especially considering its cousin, the 65W.
Though the 65W has a better field of view, it’s $50 more expensive and has a slower frame rate for capturing events. However, the 65W would also be one of my top three choices if the lower frame rate doesn’t bother you, and you’ve got an extra 50 bucks to shell out.
My third choice of the trio would be the 66W because not only of its wide-reaching field of vision, but its storage capacity, but it’s the most expensive camera in the Garmin family, and doesn’t come with any storage card included, which can be a hassle for some of us buy-it-ready folk.
Not Really Worth Your Money
If I had to say there’s is just one camera to avoid here, it would definitely be the Mini.
There’s no screen, so you can’t tell in the car with ease if it’s recording, it doesn’t come with any storage, no voice control, no magnetic mount, no battery, no GPS (an important feature for noting where an accident occurs), no collision warning- it basically was a whole bunch of “no”s when it came to features.
The only upsides I saw to it were that it was small, so you can easily hide the camera away, and that it has mobile app review, so you can instantly review the footage. However, in the plus column, it does have the largest storage capacity of any of the cameras, so if you’re the kind of person to not check their camera alerts often, or think you may for some reason get into a 16 car pile-up, this may be the camera for you!
Another one I found no-too-great was the 35. It only works while plugged in, you can’t hook it up to the mobile app, has none of the fancy features like voice control, or even more day-to-day ones like a magnetic mount. Frankly, this is one of Garmin’s products that can be put to rest as they have an array of options that aren’t outdated to a driver’s needs.
Still not convinced you need a dashcam?
Maybe you’re a smartie who’s already convinced on purchasing one, but want to know what else a dash cam can do besides help save your butt in an insurance battle once in a blue moon?
Aside from having recorded proof of an auto accident, dash cams have other uses, too, and can even be fun! You can’t pull out a phone and take pictures when you’re the driver, but a dash cam can record jaw-dropping scenery on a road trip! They also can also help you review you or your loved one’s driving to make sure you’re being safe, allow you to record the inside of your car (a great feature not only for Lyft and Uber drivers, but anyone who may be affected by theft!), and even keep you safe from corrupt cops by helping you get out of an unlawful ticket!
If none of that sells you, keep in mind that around 1.25 million people die every year in car crashes, with 20-50 million becoming injured or disabled.This means that there is an average of 3,287 deaths per day and 54,974-136,986 injuries. Car accidents are, in fact, the 4th leading cause of death in the United States.
Another scary statistic?
In over 55% of auto accidents resulting in casualties, the people in the car weren’t wearing their seat belts.
So BUCKLE UP, and buy a dash cam (just in case)! And if you’re a trucker check out our post on the best dash cams for your truck!