The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

Garmin 55 Review

A very good camera that is somewhat overpriced when compared to its competitors
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Price:   $200 List | $170 at Amazon
Pros:  Very good video quality, very slim visual profile
Cons:  Expensive, some may find user interface a bit confusing
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Jan 6, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 7
  • Video Quality - 40% 8
  • Video Capture - 25% 6
  • Interface - 25% 5
  • Visual Footprint - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Garmin 55 is a good dash cam that produces great video in a fairly small and inconspicuous package. However, its interface isn't quite as intuitive as those of some of the other cameras we tested, and its price tag is about double the price of most other cameras on the market. For example, the AUKEY DR02 matches both the video quality and the slim profile of the Garmin 55, but sells for much less. The only camera on the market with a similar price is the Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual, and it has a second cab-facing camera with infrared sensors. Therefore, unless you're very familiar with Garmin products and want a dash cam that will provide a similar experience, the premium price of the Garmin 55 probably isn't worth it for most people.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Garmin 55
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $200 List
$169.95 at Amazon
$200 List
$199.99 at Amazon
$70 List
$69.99 at Amazon
$60 List
$55.99 at Amazon
$90 List
$49.99 at Amazon
Star Rating
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Pros Very good video quality, very slim visual profileGreat video quality, second cab-facing cameraVery good video quality, relatively inexpensive, very slim profileUser-friendlyInexpensive, good video, built-in Wi-Fi
Cons Expensive, some may find user interface a bit confusingExpensive, relatively bulkyNo built-in Wi-Fi, no rear or interior cameraVideo quality lacking in comparison to similarly priced modelsSlightly larger visual footprint, no rear or interior camera
Bottom Line A very good camera that is somewhat overpriced when compared to its competitorsCurrently the best model on the market for Uber and Lyft driversFor most people, the perfect combination of great performance and a reasonable priceA nice user interface at a reasonable price, but a fairly mediocre cameraAn incredible value for those that want to document driving mishaps or road trips
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Garmin 55 Vantrue N2 Pro... AUKEY DR02 Roav A1 YI Dash
Video Quality (40%)
10
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8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
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7
Video Capture (25%)
10
0
6
10
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8
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6
10
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8
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7
Interface (25%)
10
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5
10
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6
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
Visual Footprint (10%)
10
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8
10
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5
10
0
9
10
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6
10
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6
Specs Garmin 55 Vantrue N2 Pro... AUKEY DR02 Roav A1 YI Dash
Field of View 106 degrees 170 degrees 170 degrees 140 degrees 165 degrees
Resolution 1440p 2.5K 1080p 1080p 2.3K
Event Detection G Sensor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cabin Camera No Yes No No No
Camera Dimensions 2.2" x 1.6" x 1.4" 3.8" x 1.5" x 1.5" 3" x 2" x 1.5" 3.3" x 2.2" x 1.3" 2.9" x 2.1" x 1.3"
Built-in Wi-Fi? Yes No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

While the Garmin 55 is quite a nice dash cam, it asks a field-leading price without offering correspondingly field-leading performance.


Performance Comparison


The Garmin 55 did quite well in pretty much all of our tests, resulting in a relatively high overall score. However, it wasn't a particular standout in any of those metrics either.

Video Quality


The Garmin 55 was one of the top performers in our video quality testing, losing out only to the titular dual cameras of the Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual.


Sporting 140p resolution and bright vivid colors, the Garmin 55's daytime footage looks spectacular. In fact, its daytime footage is some of the best we captured during our testing. We never ran into any instances where we couldn't read another car's license plates, and pretty much every shot looked ready for Instagram right out of the camera (if you're into that sort of thing).



So why didn't the Garmin 55 come out on top after our video quality tests? It does have a couple significant flaws. First off, its field of view is only 106˚, as compared to the 160˚+ offered by most cameras. While this does make distant objects look a bit clearer, it's not to an extent that you can identify license plates from much farther away. That narrower field of view does create nicer looking shots for sharing with your friends, as wide angle lenses can look a bit unnaturally wide. However, for documenting traffic accidents that extra peripheral vision can be crucial and definitely gives you a better chance of capturing meaningful footage.

The other major flaw of the Garmi 55's camera is its night time footage. While that footage generally still looks clear and crisp, even a bit of light from a street lamp tends to washout license plates, making them unreadable. Bottom line, the Garmin 55's video is excellent if your major goal is to document a road trip in an aesthetically pleasing manner, but isn't the most effective for capturing meaningful footage from a driving incident.



Video Capture


The Garmin 55's video capture lacks some of the adjustability of other models, but does sport some nice extra features, resulting in an overall mediocre score.


First, the Garmin 55's video capture passed the same minimum bar for entry into our review that all of the other cameras cleared. This includes automatically starting a recording when the car is started, and a number of user reviews vouching for the ability of its G-sensor to detect a crash.

Now the bad. The Garmin 55 offers only one loop recording option of a single minute. That means the camera protects the current 1-minute of video from being overwritten when the G-sensor detects an event. This definitely saves space on the memory card, as you don't have lots of long protected clips from every time you stop short taking up space. However, if an actual accident happens towards the end of a recording minute there is a chance the camera won't protect the footage you really need. Most cameras, like the AUKEY DR02 and the Vanture N2, at least offer longer clip lengths for those that don't ind getting a bigger memory card or spending a bit more time managing footage in return for a better chance the cameras will protect the footage they really need from a driving event.

While we love the Garmin 55's footage  bright lights at night can sometimes lead to some odd distortion.
While we love the Garmin 55's footage, bright lights at night can sometimes lead to some odd distortion.

Despite that lack of adjustability, the Garmin 55 does have some nice extra features. For example, you can use the camera to make a timelapse. This is great for documenting road trip vacations, just remember that it turns off the normal recording functions. Also, it has built-in Wi-Fi, meaning you can wirelessly transfer video from the camera directly to a mobile device, which is great for those that like to quickly share clips onto social media. Most cameras do have this feature, but the otherwise stellar AUKEY DR02 is one that does not.

Interface


We've used a lot of Garmin products, and while most are exceptional, some do tend to have relatively clunky interfaces. The company is certainly making positives strides in that arena, but we don't think those strides have transferred to their dash cams yet.


That's not to say we hate the Garmin 55 interface, it just isn't our favorite to use. The menus aren't particularly intuitive, but we were generally able to find what we were looking for, after some trial and error, without consulting the manual. The 2-inch screen does feel a bit cramped, but it's still larger than the 1.5" screen on the AUKEY DR02. Certainly the most annoying thing about the Garmin 55's interface is the fact that a safety warning pops up everytime the camera turns on, and you must press a button to acknowledge it. This isn't a huge deal, but really just feels like a needless annoyance.

This warning pops up and must be agreed to every time you start the car.
This warning pops up and must be agreed to every time you start the car.

Visual Footprint


This is one area where the Garmin 55 excels. It's largest dimension is only 2.2-inches, and it tends to almost disappear under a rearview mirror or in the corner of the dash. It also uses a very small adhesive mount that further reduces its visual impact. This camera's visual footprint is going to please everyone, even those that really don't like being able to see things on the dash in their peripheral vision.

The Garmin 55 is quite slim and takes up very little visual space on the windshield.
The Garmin 55 is quite slim and takes up very little visual space on the windshield.

Value


The Garmin 55 is a great camera, but the $200 list price is much higher than other cameras of similar quality and function. Unless you need a second cab facing camera, we don't see much of any reason to spend this much on a dash cam, as the $70 AUKEY DR02 and the $50 YI Dash offer similar performance.

Conclusion


The Garmin 55 is a good, but relatively overpriced camera. While we doubt anyone will be disappointed in its performance, you can get the same or better for much less money.


Max Mutter and Steven Tata