Top critical review
320 people found this helpful
A good dash cam with some design issues, and the traffic camera notification costs extra.
on November 15, 2015
Overall this is a very solid dash cam. As background, I've had a Garmin Dash Cam 20 for about a year. I'm putting that camera in my wife's car and I bought the 35 for mine. I'm a big fan of Garmin products. The build quality is very good, the unit is compact and lightweight and setup is quick and easy. Video quality at 1080P is excellent and the camera adjusts to changes in light conditions smoothly and well. Night videos are clear and usable. This is a good, reliable choice if you want a no hassle dash cam.
So why just three stars? Garmin did some fairly boneheaded things with this unit. As many others have noted, the US version of this product has no audio recording capability. My Dash Cam 20, which Garmin still sells, can record audio and it can be turned on and off in the setup software. If you live in Europe it comes with a microphone. Why on earth Garmin would remove the feature is beyond me. Perhaps someone from Garmin's Automotive Marketing team, who are surely not liking the ratings this product is getting here, will comment and enlighten us.
Another design flaw with this camera is the mount. On my Dash Cam 20, the ball mount socket is on the top of the unit. On the 35, they put it right next to the lens. The ball on the suction mount that Garmin sells snaps into the socket just fine (both are 17mm) but because of the placement of the socket, the suction mount itself partially blocks the lens. This isn't a problem with the included adhesive mount, but if you want a Garmin suction mount you're out of luck. I actually called Garmin customer service to ask about this before I bought the unit and was told it would work just fine. And it does, if you don't mind losing about 40% of the field of view of the camera.
I liked the idea of having the red light camera and speed camera notification. It's not a big deal for my commute, but it's a nice feature. I assumed it would work out of the box. Fortunately, I read the product FAQ on Garmin's website and found out that it's a subscription service that has to be activated and paid for separately, at $29.95 per year. The sales copy doesn't explicitly say it's included (like the free map updates that have been included on Garmin GPS's for years) but it also doesn't let you know that it's extra. That's not the kind of honest marketing I expect from Garmin.
These are all unforced errors on Garmin's part. This is a good product from an engineering standpoint but it does not live up to the high design standards I expect from Garmin. And the head fake on the camera notification is really inexcusable for a reputable company like Garmin