Garmin has one of the most comprehensive dash cam ranges on the market. From the Dash Cam Mini 2 all the way up to the Dash Cam 67W, there’s something for everyone, and every budget too.
Trouble is, apart from the Mini 2, the rest of the range all look remarkably similar. So while you may think you’ve read this review before, you haven’t – that might have been the Dash Cam 47, or perhaps a slightly older member of the Dash Cam range, as the basic design hasn’t changed for a few years now and they've all been featured in our best dash cam guide as well as our best front and rear dash cam guide.
Before we digress too much further, let us introduce the middle member of the current range. It’s called the Dash Cam 57 and its position could make it the Goldilocks of the range, striking the perfect balance between price and performance. It carries a price of £149.99, but as of January 2022 it has been reduced by £20. So too has the Dash Cam 47 (£129.99 to £109.99), while the flagship Dash Cam 67W has been cut from £199.99 to £169.99. You can check the widget above for the price in your country.
Garmin Dash Cam 57 review: Design
The 57 has the same matchbox-style design as other members of the Garmin Dash Cam family. Like those, it is compact, smart-looking, with a protruding lens on the front, a display and buttons on the back, and a windscreen mount attached with a ball-and-socket joint on the top.
We love this windscreen mount. While some dash cam companies produce needlessly large mounts, Garmin has deployed a masterclass in simplicity. It’s a small mount, but allows for a lot of adjustability, a secure grip on the dash cam itself, and a coin-sized magnet that sticks to the screen with adhesive, then to the mount with magnets. This makes installing the dash cam, and swapping it between cars if you so wish, the work of a moment.
The adjustability of the mount means the camera can be fitted to any windscreen, even if it is completely vertical, or very steeply raked. From Land Rover to Lamborghini, it’ll work just fine.
There are four buttons on the side of the dash cam, used to navigate the simple operating system (as the display is not touch sensitive). The lowest button protrudes slightly, making it easy to find and press by feel and without looking – handy, as this is for manually saving a portion of video, and is therefore the camera’s most important button.
On the other side, there’s a microUSB port for power. The Dash Cam 57 has a battery but that’s only good for about 30 minutes of use, so realistically you’ll need to plug in for every journey. A long USB cable and a 12V adapter to plug into your car’s lighter socket are included. Garmin sells an additional cable to give a constant power feed while parked, ensuring the camera wakes up and starts recording the moment an incident is detected while the vehicle is switched off.
Lastly, the bottom of the dash cam is home to a slot for a microSD card (not included). The camera supports cards up to 512GB in size, and Class 10 cards or faster.
Garmin Dash Cam 57 review: Features
First and foremost, this is a dash cam that uses a camera and a g-sensor to sense collisions and automatically save footage recorded before and after the event. As mentioned earlier, there’s also a button to manually save a portion of video, which can be useful if an incident happens ahead, but doesn’t directly involve your vehicle. Audio can also be recorded, but we tend to leave this switched off in the interests of passenger privacy.
This camera also features integrated GPS, so accurate location and speed data can be added to your videos, providing you with extra evidence should you ever need to prove your innocence after a road incident.
Another feature of the Dash Cam 57 is voice control, which is summoned by saying “Ok Garmin” then giving a command like “save a video,” “take a picture,” or “start/stop audio recording”. This system works pretty well and is a useful way to control the dash cam without taking your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel.
There is also a set of driver assistance features, with the camera alerting you if you drift out of your lane, or it thinks you are about to collide with a vehicle ahead. Another feature gives you an audio nudge if the traffic ahead starts moving and you don’t. There is also a system for issuing alerts for nearby speed cameras and red light cameras, and lastly, a function called Travelapse records a timelapse of your journey, condensing hours of driving into a few minutes of highlights.
Garmin Dash Cam 57 review: Video quality
The resolution of the Garmin 57 is 1440p, which is a little beyond 1080p Full HD. This is good news, as these days we consider 1080p to be the lowest acceptable resolution for a decent dash cam. Those extra pixels make for a slightly sharper and more detailed picture – useful when you want things like vehicle registration plates and road signs to be clearly legible in your recordings.
There’s also HDR (high dynamic range) which helps to boost shadows and lower highlights to make sure detail is still visible in the lighter and darker portions of footage. This is particularly useful on a bright, sunny day, when details can otherwise be lost.
The camera records through a 140-degree lens. This is around the minimum of what we deem acceptable for a dash cam, with wider being better. However, lenses that are too wide can cause footage to become distorted, and that’s not a problem here.
Nighttime footage is also sharp and clear, with the camera automatically cranking up the exposure when darkness falls (or you dive into a tunnel or dimly-lit car park during the day).
Garmin Dash Cam 57 review: Software
The software here is just like that on other models of Garmin Dash Cam. On the camera itself, this means a simple operating system navigated with the four buttons on the side of the camera. You can also control some features with voice commands, making it easy to turn audio recording on or off by saying “OK Garmin” then issuing your command.
The camera can be used entirely on its own, but it’s useful to also set up the Garmin Drive smartphone app, which is free for iOS and Android. This shows a live feed of the camera to make positioning it easier, and it’s where you’ll find the new Vault feature.
This works when the dash cam is connected to your smartphone via Wi-Fi. This gives it a web connection, which is used to automatically upload recordings. They can then be accessed and downloaded or shared, with footage stored by Garmi for free for 24 hours. This time limit can be increased to seven days for £4.99 a month or 30 days for £9.99.
The Garmin Drive app can also be used to synchronise up to four Garmin dash cams, with their footage recorded in sync. This can be useful for drivers of large vehicles like trucks or motorhomes, who want a camera facing in every direction – and it makes it easy to install a rear-facing camera without running a cable to the front camera.
Lastly, if the dash cam is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot (such as that offered by some cars) it can alert you via the Drive app when an incident is detected while parked.
Garmin Dash Cam 57 review: Verdict
As with the rest of the Garmin Dash Cam family, it is hard to say anything bad about the 57. It is very similar to the 47, apart from its higher 1440p resolution, and falls short of the 67W flagship owing to that model having a wider, 180-degree lens
Integrated GPS is a nice bonus, and we’ve always been fans of Garmin’s wonderfully simple (and compact) windscreen mounting system. The new Vault system is nice to have, but we suspect the majority of owners will instead transfer footage via the app or from the microSD card in the usual way. As such, if you have a previous-generation Garmin Dash Cam there is probably no need to upgrade to this one.
But if you are new to the dash cam market, or own one that’s a few years old and lacks features like 1440p recording and GPS, then this could be just what you’re looking for.