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garmin dash cam mini review

Garmin Dash Cam Mini: Best [year] Buyers Guide

Last updated: June 1, 2021
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Some users need cameras only to please some basic necessities so this is why Garmin has made a product that doesn’t have anything unnecessary. 

They produced a device that sells for less than $100, which became one of the most solid products for the domestic budget.

In the previous years, we saw a real race between producers offering devices with the most extraordinary features putting them beyond the good old dashcam. 

Garmin Dash Cam Mini provides its users with everything they need.

About Garmin Dash Cam Mini

We are talking about a product that will fit behind the rearview mirror of your car since its size is smaller than the key fob. From that position, it will do an excellent job by shooting high-quality videos and saving them on your memory storage. 

The dashcam comes with a dual USB port adapter in the box which takes power from the 12V socket in your car. It serves to connect your Garmin Drive smartphone app through Wi-Fi for video transfer.

It is the best solution for you if you are looking for the smallest dash cam available on the market. It should fit and remain invisible behind the rearview mirror of most of the vehicles since it is very tiny.

We can say much more about the special small design of Garmin Dash Cam Mini. The front of the camera is the lens of the camera along with a socket that attaches the windscreen mount, meaning it covers the basics.

How To Set Up Garmin Dash Cam Mini

The Mini will clip right into place if you’ve already used a mounting socket on your car’s windscreen which you used for any other Garmin dashcam. This especially refers to the Garmin 55 model.

Fitting the Garmin Mini to your windscreen will be a very simple operation even if you are new to dashcams. Before pushing it against your windscreen until it sticks on it, you should peel off the protective film from the sticky pad. 

To hide it from view, you should unclip the camera from its mounting arm which is about half an inch long and stays attached to the windscreen. Because of its discreet appearance both from inside and out, it would be pretty comfortable to leave the Garmin dashcam in your vehicle.

You will notice zero movements when you drive over a pothole or you are driving over speed bumps since the video recording will be very stable. This is due to the ball-and-socket connection to the mounting arm which gives you a sturdy grip. 

No matter what the position is, the camera will remain in the exact position.

You’ll have the feeling that the device will shrug off chucked into the glovebox between uses because it has a black matt finish. The Dash Cam Mini doesn’t have a display of any kind on its body.

There is a microSD card slot on one of its sides while the other side has a micro-USB port for power. Yet, no card comes with the box. 

There is a larger button on the back that saves a section of the video, while on the sides there is a button to mute and unmute the microphone.

The package also includes two USB cables, one of which is long and the other one short. You will have the opportunity to plug the camera each time you use it. For a more permanent setup, you may also route the longer cable around the dashboard of your vehicle.

Your car’s 12V lighter socket will fit the included adapter of the dashcam. The two USB ports it provides are for powering the camera and the spare one is, for example, your smartphone or any other device connectable with a USB.

To position your camera in a proper way, you may use the free-of-charge iOS and Android friendly Garmin Drive app. Through a direct Wi-Fi connection, you can send a live video feed from your camera to your phone.

A couple of settings are also adjustable via the app. One of them is when you want to reduce the quality of the video so it takes less space on your micro storage device. You may lower the video resolution to 720p. 

You will no longer need to use the smartphone app once you set it up. This is good since we faced problems connecting without trying many times.

You may find this connection of great use to view footage taken by the device, as you can also snap some photos. 

When this one is not working, you can take the microSD card out and put the files on your computer or any device you are using.

You could combine many Garmin dash cams in the meantime which is possible due to the Drive app. To do that you can stick the Mini on both of the screens in your car and put them in the recording mode at the same time. You can also receive a 360 degrees panoramic view by fixing up four of them in larger vehicles like motorhomes or trucks.

Garmin Dash Car Mini Review

We can say only a few things about the Dash Cam Mini since it lacks features like driver assistance, voice control, and display. We have also dedicated a section in this article to the Garmin Drive smartphone app (for iOS and Android) which enables a Wi-Fi connection.

The Garmin will work only when it plugs in because there is no battery inside it. Plugging in is the general norm even for pricier options of other Garmin series which have their own batteries that last very short.

The Mini’s special minor size, simplicity, and low price are the main features that we present. We see this as a practical thing since many drivers don’t even use the extra options and switch them off. 

Focusing on fundamentals is a priority.

The setup of the device is quite straightforward. The first step is to peel and stick the camera onto your windscreen. Afterward, you route the longer USB power cable of the camera and put it into a power socket. 

The final thing is to plug the included 12V USB adapter and you have everything done. You can also use it to charge your phone as the adapter has an extra port.

The camera will turn on and start recording whenever you start the engine of your car. The microSD of your camera device is going to store the recorded material. 

You may view them by removing the SD card and using a card reader to view the recorded files on your PC. Another option is to view them through the interface of the Garmin Drive application.

You’ll have to use the Garmin Drive app to adjust the angle of the camera since the Dash Cam Mini doesn’t have an integrated display. You can also watch your video clips and transfer them to your phone via Wi-Fi.

You won’t have the option for some customization features present in other devices. 

You can only change the video-quality, viewing, adjusting the text at the bottom of the video, or transferring it to your smartphone device. 

A disadvantage for the whole setup is the pretty slow exporting of the video clip to the camera, so using a card reader is a better option.

You will have to buy an SD card for the camera since the original package doesn’t include it. Right next to the micro SD card slot is an audio recording toggle button. 

The Dash Cam Mini deserves its name since it is only two inches tall. 

The dashcam has a socket for an adhesive plastic mount on the front as well as a black plastic case with a camera lens.

There is a button to manually take a photo on the back of the dashcam. It also serves to save the video footage during, before, and after you pressed it.

Pros

  • Small and stealthy
  • Straightforward setup process
  • You won’t get distracted by the display

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a micro SD card
  • Glitch problem in exported videos

Features

  • Collision Detection (G-Sensor)
  • 1080P image resolution
  • 140-degrees field of view
  • 30FPS frame rade
  • 1.2″ width x 2.1″ height x 1.2″ depth

The 140-degree lens is an integral part of the Garmin device. In contrast to some more expensive Garmin models that include a 180-degree lens, this one is more moderate. 

Yet, we found out that this span is satisfactory as it spreads from one side of your car to the other giving you a complete scope of the road.

It will be pretty easy to fit this camera in the middle of your screen without facing problems to hide it behind the rearview mirror. 

This is of huge importance since the camera has to remain inside the car in the most stealthy manner.

FAQ

Is its recording quality satisfactory?

In comparison to most of Garmin’s 2019 dash cam range, the Dash Cam Mini shoots at a quite lower resolution. Yet, the quality remains FHD or 1080p. Although lacking HDR, the footage remains crisp and clear which is definitely good for such a small camera.

We can’t complain, given the size and the price of the camera. The presence of HDR would mean we could gain more details from over-exposed and dark parts of the video recording. Yet, our investigations show that as far as the performance of the Mini comes into question, plate numbers and details are quite visible.

What is the length of its cables?

It has one cable that is 13 feet in length and a shorter one that is 5 feet in length. They both come with the camera itself. The backside of the camera has a micro USB port for the power cable. You can use the cables to connect the camera with your computer.

Is there an option to transfer the recorded files to my smartphone or PC?

Many of the customization options which may be a part of another more sophisticated model are not included in this device. Yet, you can export your video to the smartphone, change the video quality, and toggle the text overlay at the bottom of the recording. 

Exporting the video clip of the camera to your phone will be slow, so attaching your SD card to the computer with a card reader is better.

Bottom Line

The Garmin Dash Cam Mini will be a great option if you are looking for a tiny dash cam that won’t take up space or distract you while you’re driving. 

It doesn’t have the best video quality, nor it comes with a bunch of features included in high-end models of dashcams. Yet, it will be a great witness to your driving tales. 

Your safety is a guarantee since it uses a sensor to detect and save possible incidents.

                           

If you want more options to consider, check out our massive guide for the best dash cam in 2020.

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