In this day and age, it pays to be equipped with an extra set of eyes on the road while driving.
Garmin's Dash Cam 30 aims to add to overall safety behind the wheel by being the eyewitness to your drive that never blinks — especially helpful in the case of an accident. The high-definition standalone driving recorder captures and records footage in a continuous loop. The Dash Cam 30 is available on Garmin's website for $169.99.
I found the way it works to be as simple as can be. The actual Dash Cam 30 — which measures a tiny 7.92 centimeters x 4.25 cm x 4.36 cm and weighs only 93.5 grams — fits snugly into the device's strong mounting arm that sticks onto your windshield. From there, an included power cable fits into the USB port on the unit, so the device can charge while in use.
Once the Dash Cam 30 is plugged into your vehicle's power source and turned on, it automatically begins capturing and recording footage at 30 frames per second via its camera's wide-angle lens, which I found to deliver well in both bright or low-light conditions.
Users can opt to record their drive in 1080p or 720p formats with the included replaceable microSD card allowing it to record in a continuous loop. All footage can be played back right on the Dash Cam 30's crisp 1.4-inch LCD display or reviewed on your computer later.
If you're going to do the latter, Garmin offers its free Dash Cam Player software, which allows users to easily view and organize footage files captured by your device. The Dash Cam Player also allows users to rewind, fast-forward, pause and mark their clips.
What's especially significant about the Dash Cam 30 is its incident detection G-sensor feature, which automatically saves footage of collisions and accidents with the date and time. To have this footage as proof would be vital in the case of an accident and possibly proving that you were in the right.
The Dash Cam 30 can also be used as a still camera, allowing users to take snap shots from inside or outside your vehicle — again something that could prove to be vital when documenting an accident and your vehicle's damages.
"Owning a Dash Cam for your vehicle shows good sound judgment," Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales, said in a company press-release statement. "Garmin Dash Cams provide the reliability and high quality standards that drivers deserve."
The Dash Cam 30's low battery life of only up to 30 minutes is absolved by keeping it connected via your vehicle's power cord running through the USB port of the device.
It would also be nice if the unit could provide GPS directions while capturing footage — something that the $199.99 Garmin Dash Cam 35 can do. The latter device also features driver alerts such as forward collision warnings and signals about speed and red-light cameras on streets. That's in addition to the incident detection G-sensor feature found on the 30.
That being said, users should strongly consider coughing up the extra $30 to get a bit more. If not, though, the Dash Cam 30 does the job.
Having a handy eyewitness to your driving is a helpful thing to have.