HD video quality for those ‘just in case’ moments while driving.
I have been a fan of Garmin products for nearly a decade. My first GPS unit was a Garmin and my first fitness wearable was also a Gamin (the vivofit). I’ve always been impressed by their consistent quality products and am a loyal fan of the company. So, it was really no question when I started looking into car dash cameras as a product line, that Garmin was at the top of my list for testing.
So, why do you need a dash camera? Well, with humanity getting crazier and crazier, you almost need photographic evidence for everything you do nowadays. On more than one occasion, I have seen people swerving in and out of traffic for a variety of reasons with no regard for the people or places around them. Not only is this a dangerous situation for them, but it also effects all the people around them, too. Dash cameras are becoming more mainstream and are required equipment for police officers in some geographic areas. You can go online and watch hours of video from these camera and see all sorts of amazing things caught on dash cams.
With all of that in mind, I acquired a Garmin Dash Cam 35. While I know that the Dash Cam 35 is not going to protect me from crazy or distracted drivers, it will act as my eyewitness when something does happen. Video can really be the deciding factor when it comes to insurance claims these days. You can easily get into a ‘he said/she said’ argument, but with the Dash Cam 35 video to back you up, disagreements can be cleared up very quickly.
Included in the box is the Dash Cam 35, a window mount, a short Mini USB charging cable, and a longer Mini USB charging cable connected to a car charger. One of the first things I noticed was how incredibly lightweight the camera is. It’s only 112.7 grams, which is lighter than an iPhone 6. GPS is included in this handy little camera. This is useful because it displays the latitude and longitude coordinates on the screen and should there be some dispute over when and where an accident occurred, you can easily look back on the screen and see exactly where you car was at that time and day. Not only is the location recorded on the screen, but so is the speed and direction of travel of your vehicle.
The Dash Cam 35 also has a 3” LCD screen. It’s not a touch screen, but the feature buttons are located along the right side of the camera body. The screen is actually very nice and easy to view. One really nice option that Garmin included was the automatic dimming of the screen. Once you are driving and the camera goes into standby mode, the screen will dim so that it’s not a distraction to the driver. You can very easily tap one of the feature buttons on the side of the camera to brighten the screen quickly.
When we were testing out this remarkable little camera, the first question was of course, ‘how do you start recording?’ Well, Garmin built a smart device in the Dash Cam 35. It automatically starts recording from the moment you turn it on. The battery life of the camera is only about 30 minutes since it’s always actively recording, but if you plug it in, it will continuously record – overwriting the oldest video first – until you turn the camera off.
There are a couple of things to note with the automatic recording. First of all, the Dash Cam 35 does have a Incident Detection (G-Sensor) built-in. This means that when an incident is detected, your camera knows to save the current, last and next recordings. In addition to this automatic saving option, you can manually tell the camera to save certain video and still photos just by tapping one of the feature buttons.
So, how is the video quality of the Dash Cam 35? In a word? Outstanding. It records in either 1080P or 720P HD video at 30 frames per second. During our testing, we decided to record some driving at night. Dash Cam 35 is designed to work with both bright and low light conditions and we wanted to really put that spec to the test. As you can see by the video below, the footage at night is actually quite good. You can clearly see the landscape ahead of the vehicle and the angle of the camera shows a wide view so that you can actually see the sides of the vehicle, too. I was very, very happy with the video quality produced by this camera.
There were two things about the Garmin Dash Cam 35 that have some room for improvement. The first is the use of Mini USB as the charging connection. Most devices use Micro USB these days and even though Garmin includes two charging cables with the camera, it’s still a different cable that you have to include in your car. Secondly, I’m not a big fan of the Dash Cam’s mount. While it appears to be very sturdy, it utilizes adhesive rather than a suction cup style mount. My biggest issue with this is that you can’t move the camera from car to car easily. It’s much more of a permanent fixture with a mount like this.
Overall, the Garmin Dash Cam 35 is a great option for recording video while driving. It’s redundant, automatic recording makes it possible to just be on your way without worrying about having to start up a camera ‘just in case’ something happens. It’s a smart device that seems to be incredibly powerful and sturdy.
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