The purpose of dash cams is varied. Some would say that they’re an essential tool for reporting exactly what happened in those moments before a crash. Others would tell you that they’re a great tool for showing terrible driving on YouTube. Personally, from what I’ve seen on YouTube, it’s the latter.
Now, before we start, I have to admit something. During the time I had this camera, I actually captured a crash. Some poor dear went onto a roundabout at the wrong moment and smashed into the side of a van. There was bits of car all over the place and I’d captured the lot. Brilliant, I thought, this’ll be great and I’ll send the driver the footage later so that there’s no problems with the insurance.
Trouble is, because I’d not crashed, and I didn’t (in all the confusion) hit the “save” button in time, I missed the lot. Compounding the problem was the fact that I’d used the supplied 4GB microSD card, which – due the the capacity – doesn’t capture a great deal of “looped” footage (which is over-written).
So, first thing I’d say to you if you’re considering this is to get a pretty decently sized microSD card. This, if you choose to use the camera to capture the odd crazy / dangerous manoeuvre, is essential. With the camera you’ll get a 4GB microSD card, which is good enough for most people.
In the box you get an adhesive mount, the camera itself, a power cable with a substantial length to it and a little manual. Now, as is the norm for my reviews, I started by ignoring the manual. It was all pretty self explanatory anyway and the setup is captured in my video below. The only problem I had came shortly after setup, when I was trying to get the camera on the windscreen. The adhesive pad is just that – not a suction pad – and the review unit I had didn’t have a great deal of “stick” left on it, so I wedged the mount above the sun visor and the camera clicked into place below that.
The actual connection between the mount and the camera is really quite clever. It’s effectively just a ball fitment that you click into place. This lets you mount the camera either on the dashboard or hung from the windscreen itself. Once that’s done and you’ve plugged in the power cable (which goes into your cigarette lighter) it’s pretty much all done.
There’s a few settings and you can adjust the resolution down from 1080p to 720p if you want to cram some more footage onto your microSD card, which is rather handily accessible from the bottom of the camera. This, I found, is the ideal location if you choose to place your camera high up.
The screen will also timeout automatically so that you don’t get blinded by the screen in low light.
The footage was really very good and low-light footage was especially impressive. There’s a few examples below in daytime and night lighting, plus you can check footage on the 1.4″ LCD display. Your GPS position, speed, date and time is all shown on the screen and on the resulting footage – ideal for proving where you were and how fast you were going. You can, if you’re a cheeky speeder, choose the information you’d like to display.
Now, you get all the usual stuff you’d expect here – the wide-angle lens and the HD footage, plus you can choose to record your in-car audio or not. However, what impressed me was the in-built GPS and the G-Sensor, which I did set off myself. How did I do that? Well, I found (rather strangely) that by playing “Bass Cannon” on my car stereo triggered it. The bass (if you turn the volume up enough) will set off the collision detection. This meant that I saw the camera flashing up with “Video saved” even without me having an actual accident. It’s not a bad thing to be honest and I was actually reassured that it’d save footage in the event of an actual accident.
There’s something else that this camera will do, and it’s really rather good. You can tell that they’ve put some thought into it actually, because when you set the camera up you’ll need to point the cross-hairs in the centre towards the middle of the road. It’ll notify you when you’re perhaps too close to the car in front. This gives and audible warning too, but you can turn that off if you wish. I did, but it wasn’t due to annoyance. To be honest it was really quite clever. When going down a winding 50mph section it wouldn’t go off, but it would when I was on a straight road – such as a motorway and I was too close to the car in front. This tended to flash up when I overtook or switched lanes, but again it wasn’t annoying and I was really quite appreciative of it.
Another thing that I liked was the fact that fixed and mobile speed cameras are built in. This is something else I turned off, because on my regular journey it’s pretty obvious where the cameras are, but if you’re travelling to new places on a regular basis this could be worth leaving on. The location of mobile cameras isn’t precise – it’ll just show where mobile cameras are “known” to operate. Again though, really good to see this.
The dash cam records in a continuous loop and you’ll find an “Unsaved” folder containing the video footage that has been recorded. The camera will auto start and stop depending on whether you’re moving. So, you really don’t need to worry about it because it uses the GPS to see if you’re driving. Just keep it plugged in. If anything happens, you just need to hit the bottom button to save a video or the one above it to take a picture. In fact, it’ll hold charge quite well, so you can dismount the camera and take a picture of car damage or whatever else might have happened. The resulting video has a 1 minute length and you get a very decent piece of footage both before and after the moment you press that record button. That’s invaluable because my normal dash cam tends to just to save just a few seconds before that button is pushed.
Below you’ll find a few examples where I’ve pushed that “Save video” button. The first was after a guy decided to cross a dual-carriageway in front of me (I had to brake quite heavily), then we’ve got some mad guy who goes from the right-hand lane, to the left lane, then back to the right lane and back once more to the left lane as he badly navigates a roundabout. I’ve added a few more in too, just to show you different conditions. Excuse any wobble on the camera – that’s just my bad fitting. There wasn’t any real wobble or vibration, even over potholes etc. Very smooth..
Here’s that “let’s use any old lane” guy …
Here’s some random footage from the four-lane section of the motorway..
This guy decided to do a mad overtake, even though the van was going fast enough, just before a queue for a roundabout. We catch up with him as he turns left. Nut-job.
You can get the dash cam for £159.99 from Garmin and, I have to admit, I was properly impressed with this camera. It was so simple to setup, easy to navigate and easy to use. A proper click and forget thing. The footage was impressive, the proximity alerts were helpful and I was happy to see how much thought had been put into it.
The only thing I’d mark it down on is the fact that the mount is a sticky pad. There should be a suction cup too in my mind.