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Garmin Dash Cam 20: Performance & Verdict

By James Morris



Our Score:


Although the Dash Cam is essentially an automatic device, there are some controls available. These are operated by a row of four buttons beneath the screen. Although these are obvious, it's still easy to forget that the 2.3-inch LCD is not a touch screen, since touch screens are so ubiquitous in small devices these days.

Garmin Dash Cam 20

The buttons provide rapid access to some useful features as well as navigating the menus. The far left-hand button lets you register an incident manually, so the current video file is protected. Meanwhile the far right-hand button lets you grab a snapshot.

As well as video, you can also take still images with the Dash Cam. Garmin suggests this facility would be useful for making a record of any damage sustained to your vehicle, although you might prefer to use your smartphone.

The next button in from the right toggles file preview and playback, whilst the inside button on the left provides access to the settings menu, where you can change the video format, incident detection sensitivity, and decide whether or not you want audio to be recorded along with the video. The Dash Cam also has a menu option to import safety camera locations, although we didn't find any documentation about using this feature.

READ MORE: Camcorder Reviews

Garmin Dash Cam 20

Garmin also provides its own PC Tool software which lets you examine the details of videos whilst watching them. You can see a map on the right showing the route of the journey. By default, this is a Google Map, but it's also possible to use BaiduMap, which covers mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Beneath the map, a dashboard shows the speed the vehicle was travelling at the current point in the video file, plus a readout of the GPS coordinates and start and stop time of the file recording. The video window presents an Event Record underneath, which shows the direction of an impact at the event point.

However, you can get more information by toggling Advanced Mode using the checkbox. This gives you a full readout of the G-forces experienced front to back, left to right, and up-down. So you get a full picture of a collision incident. This is all potentially useful information when arguing a case for an insurance claim, for example for backing up an allegation of whiplash, or refuting it by showing low levels of G-force. So PC Tool could be very handy, although there's no version for MacOS.

Garmin Dash Cam 20

Should I buy the Garmin Dash Cam 20?

If you're worried about the reported rise in spurious collision claims, Garmin's Dash Cam provides a useful tool to give you a little more security. Of the two Dash Cams, the 20 is definitely the preferable option, despite the £30 price difference, as the GPS functionality is fundamental. However, Mio's MiVue 388 provides identical features for the same recommended retail price. So the best choice will depend on which you can get for less in an actual shop.


The Garmin Dash Cam 20 is very much a single-task device, and not particularly cheap for something so focused, but very effective if you are concerned about vehicular insurance claims.

Next, read our Garmin VIRB Dash Cam Review

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 8
  • Perfomance 9
  • Value 7

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.


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.


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...

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