Home / Cameras / Camcorder / Garmin Dash Cam 20

Garmin Dash Cam 20 review

By

Reviewed:

1 of 10

Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20
  • Garmin Dash Cam 20

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Automatically records your journeys
  • GPS tagging of video files
  • G-force information for video files

Cons

  • Adapter required for simultaneous powering of sat-nav
  • No MacOS version of PC Tools software

Key Features

  • 2.3-inch display
  • 1080p recording at 9Mbits per second
  • GPS location for position tagging
  • G-sensor for incident detection
  • Still image capture
  • Manufacturer: Garmin
  • Review Price: £199.99

What is the Garmin Dash Cam 20?

The Dash Cam 20 is the top of Garmin's new range of camcorders aimed at recording your car journeys for safety purposes. Garmin has been branching out from its traditional GPS fare in the last couple of years, although its range has generally been more diverse than its competitors. Following on in the footsteps of the VIRB, the Dash Cam provides GPS-enabled video recording, but this time for a more serious purpose.

Related: 5 Best Dash Cams right now

Garmin Dash Cam 20

Garmin Dash Cam 20: Design and Features

The Garmin Dash Cam looks considerably like Mio's MiVue 388 Drive Recorder, and has broadly similar specifications. The LCD screen on the back is 2.3-inch, where the Mio's is 2.4-inch, and there are multiple models with slightly different capabilities, although in Garmin's case just two options are available rather than three. Both models can shoot in 1080p, 720p or WVGA, but the Dash Cam 20 contains a built-in GPS, whilst the Dash Cam 10 only offers a G-force sensor.

The Dash Cam is slightly misnamed, because like the MiVue it is not designed to be installed on your dashboard, but rather to hang from the top edge of your windscreen. It comes with a similar suction mount to Garmin's sat-navs, with a car power connector that attaches to the Dash Cam via mini USB, although if you want to run a sat-nav at the same time you will need a dual-socket adapter for your car.

There's a power button on the left, alongside the Micro SD socket, with a 4GB module supplied in the box. The maximum video quality is 1,920 x 1,080 at 30 frames per second, with a fairly decent 9Mbits/sec data rate. So the supplied memory will be enough for about an hour of footage. Video is captured in AVI format, using MPEG 4 AVC / H.264 encoding, providing a relatively artefact-free image.

Video is not captured as one big file, however. Instead, smaller 255MB files are created, and then when the media has been completely filled, the oldest files are overwritten. In this way, recording remains continuous. When an incident occurs, you can stop recording and save the audiovisual record of what transpired, ready to be used as evidence for any kind of claim or counter-claim that might be necessary.

Alongside the video, the Dash Cam 20 uses its built-in GPS receiver to provide date, time, location and speed information for the recording in question. This is permanently superimposed in the left-hand corner of the video, giving it a reasonably tamper-proof legal status. The AVI files can be imported into any software that supports the format.

There's also a G-sensor to provide incident-based detection. This picks up any sharp changes in direction as are likely to occur in a collision. The files containing an incident are marked as protected and won't be overwritten as the Dash Cam recycles space. The Dash Cam 10 provides this facility without the GPS location recording.

By default, the Dash Cam will begin recording automatically when turned on. This makes it supremely easy to use straight out of the box. You can just install it in your car, and the device will simply start recording as soon as the car ignition is turned and the cigarette lighter power socket receives power.

Prem Desai

May 12, 2014, 8:09 am

Happy with the review but don't understand the comment about requiring an adapter to power another device - listed as one of its minus points.

Are you expecting this device to power another device? Not fair really. Or have I misunderstood something?

Anthony Bond

May 12, 2014, 12:48 pm

I fairly sure it means that it's plugged into the lighter socket so you won't be able to plug a sat bav in as well unless you have an adaptor as most cars only have one socket.

toboev

May 12, 2014, 4:45 pm

I appreciate your point about "not really fair", but the fact remains that this powerlead contention is a (not insurmountable) problem. Compare with the possibility of a combined sat-nav-cum-dashcam device, basically a traditional sat-nav with an orientable camera grafted on the back. That would have the advantage of not clogging up the cigarette lighter with two power leads. "Unfair" advantage? In the end, "un/fair" is not relevant, convenience is what matters.

Dr James Morris

May 12, 2014, 7:23 pm

I meant what Anthony Bond said - it takes up your lighter socket so you can't power a sat-nav at the same time (although you can get two-way adapters for this). The Mio MiVue has the same issue.

DougP

October 7, 2014, 2:44 am

I disagree. Seems unfair to me, unless all of the other standalone dashcams come with a dual cigarette lighter power cord to power/pass-thru.
Otherwise, that would be like marking down a vehicle (hauling) trailer for saying - "doesn't include a popup tent". Yes a popup tent trailer would take up the vehicle hitch, as would the hauling trailer, and can only use one at a time... it would be more convenient to "combine" them.
Of course, in the case of this Garmin, if someone wants to power more than one device from their cigarette lighter then can buy an adapter.
Otherwise, ANY device that uses cigarette lighter needs to be marked down for "taking up" that port.

Mark Scharien

January 8, 2015, 2:47 am

That's like giving any appliance in your house a Con for taking up and electrical outlet.

Rob West

March 8, 2015, 11:59 pm

I am looking at fitting the Garmin 20 into buses which are 24v.
Is there an adaptor available to reduce the power to 12volt

Dominique LaCroix

March 30, 2015, 11:22 am

Did I read this well? It's not Mac compatible? I just bought one for my daughter, but now I wonder if I should keep it for her as she is a Mac user. Can you please provide a little more information for me? Thank you.

Mark Thompson

December 6, 2015, 10:47 am

yes it does work on a mac

Jeff O'Connor

December 8, 2015, 9:31 pm

I think this device is pretty good, even though it's limited in functionality. I guess I'm only expecting a dash cam to do only a few things, and this one does them well. I like it. http://dashcamly.com/the-garmi...

comments powered by Disqus