Type the words “dash cam” into the Youtube search field and it will pull up almost one million videos showing a myriad of accidents big and small. The overwhelming majority come from Russia where the dash cam is as ubiquitous as the steering wheel. Perhaps in an effort to assuage their decreasing revenue from lagging handheld GPS sales, Garmin is now offering their own dash camera. The not-so-cleverly named Dash Cam 20 is not just a point of view camera marketed to drivers, it actually has a host of features specifically engineered for vehicle use. It records a continuous loop of video deleting old data as the 4GB SD card fills up. Using sensitive crash sensors, anytime the camera detects a sudden stop or violent impact, it automatically saves the video from that time frame. It then assigns that video a time stamp and even logs the GPS location. It can also record speed and direction of travel at the time of a detected accident. The camera can then be removed from the dash and used to capture still photographs of the incident or any resulting damage.
Once plugged into your 12v power outlet it automatically begins recording with no further inputs required from the driver. The 2.3 inch LCD display allows for easy playback of video and the system self-adjusts to record in changing light situations. A built-in microphone records sounds inside your vehicle so be careful what you say in front of your little digital witness. How necessary is something like this? I have no idea. Judging by the videos on Youtube, I’d definitely recommend it for a drive through Russia.