Our Operations Manager, Alex Cortes recently got his hand on the Garmin Dash Cam Mini. Here’s his review…
Summary: A small sleek set and forget dash cam device. It’s like having a Mini Go-Pro mounted to your windshield. It’s small inconspicuous design, daytime recording and ability to download footage straight to your mobile smart device are its standout features.
Garmin Dash Cam Mini
- Video quality = 1080p at 30fps
- Viewing angle = 140 degrees
- GPS capability = Nil
- Screen = Nil
- Smart phone App Integration = Yes, Garmin Drive app (Apple store / Google shop)
- Slick tiny design
- Full HD 1080p recording & still image capture capability
- Easy setup and install, to suit most vehicles
- Sentry ability option if hardwired to fuse box
- Garmin Drive App allows instant wifi download to smart phone device with ability to trim clips
- Great quality sound recording
- Ability to be paired with a second Dash Cam Mini to capture the rear tailgate
- No screen on device
- No battery, relies on vehicle power source to work
- Night mode recording is basic, no dark mode enhancing capabilities
- No GPS features
The testing of this dash cam was performed on sealed roads. We drove in daytime and nighttime conditions, on busy streets and quiet backroads using the most enhanced recording setting.
Straight out of the box, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini includes:
- 12 Volt Plug with 2 x USB sockets
- 1 x 4m power cable to power the dash cam
- 2 x mounting hooks
- 1 shorter data and power cable to download the camera footage to a computer
The dash cam itself is matte black and measures a tiny 3.1 x 5.3 x 2.9cm. One of the best things about the device is how small and inconspicuous it is. I enjoyed driving past other vehicles which had setups looking like they had a mini camcorder attached, while this device sat nicely behind the rear-view mirror.
The device was incredibly easy to install. As it has a sticker mount system, I would recommend leaving this device in one vehicle and not switching it between cars. With the 4 meter cord being quite thin compared to other devices in the market, as per the instruction pamphlet it sat perfectly hidden tucked into the windshield trim, down the side of the door jam trim, underneath the floormats and into the 12V socket in the centre console. I would consider hardwiring the device in the future but will likely prolong it given how clean the install looks.
The Garmin Dash Cam Mini requires a Class 10 Micro SD card (not included) to run. Formatting the card is very easy, basically stick it in, press two buttons and let the formatting do its thing. Once done, you’re ready to go and the device will start recording.
Given the device doesn’t have a screen, you’ll need to use a smart phone app to control most of the features. The Garmin Drive app is a free application downloadable from the Apple store or Google shop. The app itself is simple and easy to use. You can view the live feed from your phone, you also have the option to take still images via the app. You can review footage recorded and save clips that you want, change recording quality and edit clips making them smaller to download. The ability to download clips straight to your phone kind of makes the data transfer cable cord redundant. Think about a scenario where you capture an accident on camera and can download that footage and wire it straight to a thankful person who’s just had their prized 79 series side swiped – you’d be saviour of the day! Note: in order to download and access the dash cam you’ll need your vehicle on powering the device as it doesn’t have its own battery power source – a small price to pay for the devices size advantage.
The buttons on the Garmin Dash Cam Mini enables some limited features without the use of a smart phone. You can turn the mic / sound recording on and off. There’s also a quick save button on there so if you wanted to quickly save recordings from an incident you can quickly do so without having to open the app and save from there.
Daytime recording on the Garmin Dash Cam Mini is really where it shines. The wide-angle lens captures everything you need of the car’s surroundings. The video quality viewing on the app is reduced to save space and speed up playback time. However, once downloaded to your smart phone at the full 1080p, the colours, quality and frame rate are fantastic. There were no frame skips in the video we recorded. Sound quality was excellent as well. It captures everything from road noise outside the car, to conversations in the car, babies in the backseats crying and the sound of your favourite song playing through the speakers of your car.
Night recording is where the device performance at a more baseline level. I wouldn’t say it was bad, it records exactly as you would have seen the road as you were driving. However, I would expect with technology these days that some dash cams would have some night mode enhancing features so smaller details in low light that you didn’t pick up while driving could be picked up by the camera.
At a price of point $189.00 retail (less for shop members and policyholders). The Garmin Dash Cam Mini is a great choice if you don’t need GPS features but want something that’s small and easy to hide with easy access to video recordings.
Safety Shop Member: $180.00