I am a big fan of dash cams, they are a small investment for something that could save you thousands in insurance claims, and potentially jail in some scenarios.
Garmin recently did a study that found new drivers admitted to feeling paranoid about making mistakes (44%) and feeling intimidated by other cars on the road (42%). As someone that has only had a licence for 2 years, and only puts about 100 miles per month on the clock I agree with this.
Part of the study revealed that 82% of newly qualified drivers have made dangerous or serious mistakes in the past year which would cause them to fail a driving test. However, 57% of new drivers would describe themselves as ‘Good drivers’
The study comes shortly after Garmin refreshed their dashcam lineup and it aims to encourage the use of their Dash Cam technology, which acts as an eyewitness to any drive.
The new lineup consists of four new models starting with the Mini priced at just £79.99 going up to the Dash Cam 66 at £159.99.
These mini-sized cameras come with an impressive specification at a price point that is highly competitive with many of the very popular Nexbase models.
Garmin Dash Cam 56 vs 46 vs 66W
The model I was sent to review is the Garmin Dash Cam 56 which sells on Garmin for £149.99 but can be had for as little as £125. This makes it just £10 more than the Dash Cam 46.
These are identical in almost every aspect. With the 56 you get the camera resolution bumped up to 1440p compared to 1080p. It also has the ability to record at 60FPS vs 30FPS. So for the extra fiver, you may as well go for the 56 models.
The Dash Cam 66W also shares the majority of the features from the cheaper model, but this costs £159 making it one of the more expensive dash cams on the market and £20 more than the superb Nextbase 522GW. However, the key feature with this model is the 180-degree wide lens, which from what I can tell is the widest angle lens on the market. I would regard this is a superior upgrade to the camera than going from 1080p to 1440p as it ensures your capture everything left and right.
Set up is similar to most dash cams. The biggest issue I faced was getting the magnetic mount to stay stuck to my windshield. The weather has been cold and damp recently which is not ideal for creating a sticky surface, and the mount itself has quite a small surface area. I would recommend removing the magnetic mount and applying that first allowing the adhesive to bond fully with your windscreen.
Like other cameras, this works perfectly well out of the box, when you power it up you will have to go through a couple of set up questions, but then it runs by itself with little interference needed.
I experienced some issues getting my Huawei P30 Pro to pair up with the phone. I suspect this is more the phones fault than Garmin, it has quite an aggressive method of trying to maintain a data connection, and I struggle to pair them up. Switching to the Realme X2 Pro, the phone and dash cam paired straight away.
Performance is on par with other models at this price point. It didn’t stop raining during my time testing it, so the conditions were poor at best, however, the quality of the footage is good enough for what you need in a dashcam. The wide-angle lens comfortably covers the pavement to either side and the device stamps important data on the bottom of the video including time, GPS coordinates and the speed. Some insurers insist on this data, and it can be critical in proving your innocence with an accident, so it is data like this that sets apart a £150 camera and the cheap sub £100 ones you can pick up on Amazon.
Garmin is unique compared to some of my recent reviews because it has a speed camera detector built-in as well as forward collision, lane departure and red light warnings. This will no doubt be a massive selling point to some drivers, and from my experience, it works reasonably well.
The combination of speed camera and red light warnings does mean that the dash camera is very eager to beep at you if you go fractionally over the speed limit well before the dash keep it will repeatedly beep at you. Depending on where you are driving, this can become quite annoying. You can, of course, switch these features off if required.
While the Nextbase 522GW has Alexa built-in, Garmin uses their own version of voice control. The end result is functionally the same, I would assume Alexa is a bit more accurate and offers additional features beyond compare control, but from my experience, the performance was identical. If any incident occurs, you can simply say “OK Garmin” followed by “Take a picture” or “Save video”, and it works, perfectly. Saved videos are moved to another folder where they can be found quickly and downloaded separately from those that will eventually be overwritten.
While Nextbase sells dedicated rear cameras that can be attached to the primary camera, Garmin has adopted a different approach. You run a 2nd dashcam alongside the primary camera, and the Dash Cam Auto Sync can pull in footage from both camera. If you have the Dash Cam Mini, it will then get the GPS data from the main camera.
The Garmin Dash Cam 56 and the app have a similar approach to the connection as the Nextbase 522GW. There is a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing a sem-seamless interaction with the camera.
However, like most dash cam apps, getting footage off the camera is slow and annoying. The Garmin is notably slower than the Nextbase, which was already slow. You can speed up the process with Garmin by trimming down the footage first, so my test video was the full 5 mins drive, but it is unlikely you will ever need that much video footage is you witness an accident or are involved in one.
If you want to access the full files, it will be less frustrating to plug the dash cam directly into your PC or pull the microSD card.
Price and Competition
Priced at £119.99 this places it almost at the same price as the Nextbase 422GW with both models offering the same 1440p 140-degree lens.
The Nextbase has Alexa, which is a bit better than the Garmin equivalent, it has a better mounting system and has an SOS emergency response function. The rear camera module is also cheaper to buy than getting the Garmin Dash Cam Mini. However, I hate the USB power adapter which is one contained unit with no spare USB sockets, it is also physically larger than the Garmin.
Garmin, on the other hand, has the various driver alerts, including speed cameras and red lights.
So, overall, I would put them level in terms of overall price and features, and I suspect many would regard the speed alerts as a winning feature here.
The Garmin Dash Cam 56 ticks a lot of boxes making it an excellent choice for a dashcam.
It has all the features competing brands offer along with excellent video quality, but you also get the additional vocal alerts for speed cameras, forward collision, lane departure warnings. While I found the speed camera alerts a bit annoying it is something that many drivers will regard as an essential feature.
Garmin Dash Cam 56 Review Rating
- Overall - 90%90%
Last update on 2020-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API