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Garmin’s Dash Cam Live is the company’s first product that automatically saves videos online for safe-keeping. Given my experience with, and fondness for the company’s x7 series dash cams, I was expecting good things from this latest effort.
Alas, while I saw the expected good things, I and probably quite a few other consumers, might not be able to afford them. The single-channel Dash Cam Live all by its lonesome is $400 — the same price as many three-channel units, including our top-rated Cobra SC 400D.
Then there’s the $10/7-day retention or $20/30-day retention monthly charge for the LTE connectivity and online storage. You needn’t sign up for these if you don’t want, but then you’re much better off saving a couple hundred dollars with one of Garmin’s lower-priced dash cams.
The Dash Cam Live is a bit larger than the x7 series cameras at approximately 3.3 inches wide, 1.9-inches high, and 1.3-inches thick, with just under 4 ounces of heft. But the overall feel is still “svelte” and the larger size means there’s enough room for a sharp 3-inch color display.
About that feel. Rare is the dash cam that sits better in the hand, or looks handsomer to the eye than the Dash Cam Live. Put bluntly, it’s the classiest looking/feeling piece of dash cam hardware I’ve experienced.
Further reading: See our roundup of the best dash cams to learn about competing products.
There are four multi-function buttons on right side of the camera. They’re unlabeled, but easy to learn. The SD card slot is on the bottom of the camera, while the left side is home to the micro-USB power connector.
I’m all for not wasting those micro-B connectors that Garmin paid for, but come on. It’s 2023, the Dash Cam Live is super expensive…. It’s time for Type-C, guys.
The camera is a 1440p (30 frames per second), 140 degree field-of-view model that features Garmin’s usual (forgetting the DriveCam 76) first-rate processing. Also on board is GPS, and thankfully, Garmin uses it to automatically set the correct date and time. Many vendors set the date, but don’t take the extra step to calculate the time zone. Why, I can’t tell you, but kudos to Garmin.
The Dash Cam Live also features my favorite mount in the industry. It’s a slightly larger version of the sticky plate/magnetic mount/fully adjustable ball arm included with the 47, 57, etc. The mount makes it easy to attach/detach and orient the camera, but still keeps it firmly in place. My only, very minor, complaint is that I couldn’t use the smaller plate already attached to my windshield for the 57.
The Dash Cam Live ships with a 16GB card (I would’ve expected at least 64GB considering the price), and will handle up to 512GB cards (Class 10 or better). The camera uses a lithium battery that’s good for 30 minutes instead of a super capacitor.
Garmin also put a microphone on the Dash Cam Live and it responds to commands such as “Save video,” “Start Travelapse,” etc. after you intone “Okay, Garmin….” Travelapse is a time-lapse version of a capture.
The “Live” in the cam’s moniker refers to the fact that at any time you can use the Garmin Drive app to get a live view from the camera using your phone. Do not use this as a baby or dog monitor as you shouldn’t be leaving those souls in your car.
However, as a means of surveilling the surroundings while your not near the vehicle, it’s highly useful. Then again, maybe you should just relax a bit and let the camera’s parking mode and automatic uploads do their thing.
Jon Jacobi / Foundry
On the other hand, you can keep track of junior using the app with its location reporting feature. Hopefully, he or she won’t disappoint you as badly as I did my parents.
The icing on the cake is the bad-driver repertoire of features such as collision and lane departure warnings, get moving reminders, and red light/speed camera warnings. I never use these, but speed cameras aren’t as common in the U.S. as they are in, say, Great Britain.
You might want to simply pay less attention to your phone or dash cam, and more to the road, as well as not speed (too much). Just sayin’.
How does the Garmin Dash Cam Live perform?
Both the day and night captures from the Dash Cam Live were very good. A very nice blend of detail, smooth stabilization, and rich color. When viewed in motion, the detail does exhibit minor amounts of shimmer, but when you stop the action you can clearly see what you need to see, such as license plate numbers — the whole point of a dash cam.
While the above capture on a cloudy day was great, brighter sun gave captures a slightly overexposed feel. As shown below. Much of the glare to the right is from mounting the camera a bit low on the windshield.
There is an exposure setting that allows you to darken the captures a bit, but we always publish with the defaults.
Night captures were also very good as you can see below. And the Dash Cam Live handled headlights with aplomb, that is, there was hardly any flare.
I can attest to the 30 minutes of run time from the Dash Cam Live’s battery. I have dozens of videos of the inside of my pocket and my hallway becasue the camera woke from being jostled. Turn off parking mode before you remove the camera from the car to avoid this.
I was also impressed with the ease of connecting to live view and the prompt uploading of videos to the Garmin Vault, which took minimal coaxing.
In total, the Garmin Dash Cam Live’s captures are very good. I’d like to see the option for 2160p captures at the price, but nonetheless, very good overall.
Should you buy the Garmin Dash Cam Live?
A lot of you will swallow hard at the Dash Cam Live’s price and ongoing LTE expense. But I can tell you that if the impulse is still there after your throat clears, you’ll enjoy having and using the camera. I did.
That said, 2160p capability and a Type-C port would have reduced my overall discomfort with the price.
Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.