Updated on July 29, 2023
On first looks, the Garmin Dash Cam 20 standalone driving recorder appears to have a smaller frame than most others that we have reviewed on this website. Looks can be deceiving, however. It is a small but very powerful in-car camera system that sits on the windshield of your vehicle, unblinking, recording videos possibly of dangerous drivers, thus crucial pieces of evidence that could convict them in the event of an accident occurring due to their negligence. In this Garmin Dash Cam 20 review, we evaluate and discuss everything you’d need to know about this neat little device.
At A Glance
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The dashcam takes videos in full HD (1920 x 1080p) at 30 frames per second. You could optionally set it to 720p or even WVGA to save storage space. The small 2.3” TFT LCD screen displays the videos being recorded along with timestamp and other details derived from the GPS feed. In our opinion 2.3″ screen is rather small, thus loses marks here.
There is an integrated microphone that can also capture audio along with the video footage. You can choose to turn this off in case you don’t want to save the conversations being had inside the vehicle.
The video is recorded in loops, which means that video will continually get shot for as long as there is a memory card in the slot. When the camera runs out of storage, the older files on the memory card will be overwritten. The box comes with a free 4 GB MicroSD card, which allows you to get started right away. Again, 4 GB is a very tight figure compared to the likes of the Falcon Zero Touch HD, which will get you an included 32GB memory card. As a max, you can slot in up to 32 GB of external memory.
This neat little device has an integrated GPS feed. No need to buy an additional GPS device and then plug into your new dashcam. It saves your dashboard from extra clutter. GPS location data embedded into the footage recorded can provide details such as the speed of your vehicle when an accident happened, the direction in which your car was going and the exact location where the accident happened. All these are vital pieces of information for you to make your case in the event of an accident, insurance claim or arrest.
Memory Lock Gravity Sensing
The Garmin Dash Cam 20 standalone driving recorder has the standard G-sensor feature that records and locks videos at the moment of gravity surges. This technology ensures that a video is saved in the event of an accident and that video is then locked into memory. Locking the video will ensure that it is not overwritten inadvertently later during loop recording.
The memory lock button can be turned on manually, meaning you can use it to record an interesting piece of video while driving down the road. In the event that you spot an erring vehicle driving dangerously, you could press the lock button to capture about 4 minutes of video before, during and after you press the button.
There are four levels of gravity sensitivity. These are marked as High, Normal, Low and Off. Setting it too high might not be advisable. In an event that you brake suddenly, such as when there is an animal on the road or if you have a flat tire the dashcam will record and lock videos. If you happen to go over a rough patch of track and brake suddenly, a change in gravity will be sensed, and the associated video will be locked down.
The built-in battery is charged via a vehicle power cable that usually connects to the cigarette lighter of your vehicle. A fully charged battery will last for about an hour. It is recommended that the unit is plugged into the car while driving else it could run out of power without you being aware, and in the event of an accident, you will miss crucial evidence from getting saved.
This is a great feature that not all dashcams have, but Garmin does. Basically, when turned on, it will keep recording even after you have turned off the ignition for a short period of time. This can come in handy in many scenarios.
Ergonomics and Technology
Physically it is a very small dashboard camera. The dimensions are 1.4 x 3.2 x 2.7 inches. It weighs only about 121 grams which means there is not much pressure on the suction mount when you mount the actual camera to it. The other smallest dash cam we have reviewed so far that it compares to is the Garmin Dash Cam 45 which is 2.2 x 1.4 x 1.6 inches.
Setting It Up
Setting up is easy. Press the power button, and the blue screen of the device lights up instantly. The provided MicroSD card is usually pre-installed. When the screen turns on it will show you a choice of country. Select the US if you are in the US. Next, select the time zone. A notice is displayed that says that you will need to reset the g-sensor to ensure that it performs correctly. Another screen appears that has some warning messages and then it goes straight to recording.
Though you don’t need to always tinker with the settings, you do have a bunch of options. Just go to the menu option, scroll down, and you get a whole load of settings to edit, such as Exposure Value, Screen brightness, Audio, Volume adjustment, power-off delay, button sound, daylight saving, and a lot more.
The built-in snapshot feature of the Garmin Dash Cam 20 is extremely handy when you need to take still images, and your smartphone or digital point-and-shoot is not at hand. One vital applicability of the still images feature is that you can take the camera off and make stills of accident-induced damage of your vehicle in a hurry. To take a still image point the lens and press the still image button (bottom right) and a photo is saved and stored in the memory card.
Day And Night Mode Road Test
A neat little device that is a must-have for anyone who loves hitting the road, the Garmin Dash Cam 20 standalone driving recorder isn’t the cheapest on the market but is certainly one to consider. From the ultra-wide-angle view to the integrated GPS, superior day and night vision capabilities, memory lock, and gravity sensing, the list goes on. All of this radiating from such a small device from a reputable manufacturer makes this a highly recommended purchase in 2023.
With more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, Ash possesses a deep understanding of the diverse needs and challenges faced by drivers on the road. His relentless commitment to road safety and ongoing research is fueled by a genuine desire to create safer environments for all drivers.