You have decided on one thing and that’s you want one of the smallest dash cameras on the market in your car, watching the road and unsuspecting danger. The recent Garmin Dash Cams have captured your interest due to their small form factor making the dash cam a discrete addition to your car. But as you are about to send the item to your shopping cart you realize there’s several different types of small dash cams from Garmin and you sigh as at this point you wanted less options to choose from.
There are more similarities than differences between the Garmin Dash Cam 45 vs 55 vs 65, but the differences should sway your opinion one way or the other, especially if you are dead set on the small size.
Let’s compare all the different models and truly see what difference there is and is the extra cost worth it. As we compare and contrast we will be giving each camera a review and showing you why different people might choose a different model.
Garmin Dash Cam 55 vs 65W
There are only a few differences between the Garmin 55 vs 65 that are notable. The top difference is that the Garmin 65 has a 180 degree wide angle lens, providing more field of view for the camera. This is the largest wide angle lens I’ve seen on a dash cam. This can provide left to right total coverage ensuring that you’ll get the full picture of your car dash.
In take a look at the footage, with really drastic wide angle lens, you will get bad distortion which will warp the sides of the picture. While there is warping in the Garmin 65’s image, it doesn’t seem too severe and seems like it’ll often be the A-pillar of the vehicle and not something wildly important.
Resolution and frame rate are the other differences. With the Garmin 55, there are a lot more options from 720P to 1440P and various frame rates from 30 FPS to 60 FPS whereas the Garmin 65 only offers 1080P at 30 FPS.
The only reason why you would want to get the Garmin 65 is for the wide angle capabilities. If you feel like other dash cams haven’t offered an adequate coverage for you, then this dash cam might be the perfect solution.
Garmin Dash Cam 45 vs 55
The biggest differences between the Garmin 45 vs 55 are the Video Resolution, Voice Control, the available frames per second and the camera megapixels. On a smaller note, the Garmin 55 does come with a mircoSD card twice the size (8GB) as the Garmin 45.
On the Garmin 45, the only available filming resolutions are at 1080P and 720P at 30 FPS. The Garmin 55 has a plethora of more options. It allows 1440P, 1080P at 60 FPS, 1080P HDR, 1080p at 30 FPS and 720P.
If you couldn’t tell the difference, that’s a lot of different options in the Garmin 55. What I like the most about the additional options is the 60 FPS or frames per second option. Going from 30 FPS to 60 FPS is such a difference in quality and clarity. Everything is buttery smooth which is what you want to see when your are interpreting dash cam footage for an accident or dispute.
The Garmin 45 doesn’t have any voice control options whereas the Garmin 55 does. It includes basic commands such as to save a video, take a picture or pause audio recording. It’s a nice touch to have hands-free options, especially if you have the dash cam mounted in a way that you can’t safely access it.
Even behind the rear view mirror, reaching for it while driving on a highway can be dangerous. Stick with the voice commands and be a better driver.
Directly affecting the video resolution, a camera megapixel refers to literally one million individual pixels. Generally, the higher the megapixels, the more data is stored about an image, thus providing a high quality image.
The Garmin 45 is accompanied with a 2.1 megapixel camera whereas the Garmin 55 has been boosted up to 3.7 megapixels, a more than 50% increase. In the test footage you can see here, there may not be a big difference in the image when it is zoomed out, but zooming in would reveal a lot of disparities among details.
Garmin 45 Review
If you’re looking for a small dash cam, don’t look past the Garmin Dash Cam lineup. Garmin has really pushed the limit of what a tiny dash cam is as they measure just over 1.5 inches tall. If you don’t want to see any part of the dash cam in your car, or feel like it would be discrete from outside lookers, the Garmin Dash Cams are your answer.
The Garmin 45 is the cheapest out of the available options and still has a lot of the mandatory core features. Loop recording, G-Sensor, WiFi and GPS are all standard features of the Garmin 45. It also comes with a screen!
It’s pretty neat Garmin decided to go with the WiFi connectivity as well as the screen. I guess they felt they couldn’t go any smaller, so if a screen fit, might as well have it there!
One thing about the Garmin that I think is very underrated and not said enough is that there’s an internal battery that is included that runs about 30 minutes without power from the vehicle. What this means is that if you get in a bad accident where you car might shut off, your Garmin dash cam will still continue recording. This is so useful! Sometimes bad accidents happen and for whatever reason, power might not be supplied to your dash cam. If you don’t notice, any potential footage is never recorded.
In terms of software, Garmin really packs in a bunch of driver assistance features into one dash cam. Lane departure, forward collision, red light and speed camera warnings are all standard. The Garmin will alert you when it detects any of these situations unfolding.
In the box is a USB Cable, Manual, MicroSD card (4GB included), the dash cam, a magnetic mount and the vehicle power cable.
This does have hard wire capabilities, so check out the Garmin Hardwire Kit if you want to monitor your car when the key is not in the ignition.
Overall the Garmin 45 is a good choice for most drivers. We did find some of the driver assistance features to be a little bit overbearing which is understandable, so we turned those off and allowed the dash cam to do its main job recording.
Garmin 55 Review
Next up is the Garmin 55 Dash Cam. Maintaining the same form factor as the Garmin 45, the Garmin 55 increased its megapixel count from 2.1 to 3.7 megapixels. They also decided to put in a ton of different resolutions and frame rates to match people’s different preferences.
For example, they included a 1080P at 60 FPS version which provides super smooth footage. While at first glance, people couldn’t think of another reason why they would stray away from 60 FPS, there might be folks who realize that the high FPS version creates larger files on their microSD card. And when you fill up your microSD card faster and faster, you have less of a window to review your footage if you need to.
The Garmin 55 also comes with Voice Control options where you can control the unit with your words!
If you don’t speak English or don’t prefer it, then these voice controls will be useless for you as English is the only supported voice controls language. The dash cam itself can be used in different languages.
Here are the list of commands you can say:
- Save Video
- Take a Picture
- Record Audio
- Stop Audio
- Start Travelapse
- Stop Travelapse
All of those commands are pretty standard except travelapse which essentially is a time lapse or a sped up video of all the places you’ve been.
Some reviewers have expressed concern over the overheating on some dash cameras. This could be due to the intense load the camera is put under when filming at a demanding video resolution and frame rate. Several firmware updates should address this concern.
Garmin 65 Review
The Garmin 65 Dash Cam is one of the last devices in Garmin’s lineup. And to be honest, there isn’t much of a difference between the Garmin 55 vs Garmin 65. The only thing is that the Garmin 65 has a 180 degree wide angle, which is huge! People who need a wide angle lens are for those who have really wide car dashboards or windshields and for those who want full road coverage.
The Garmin 65 dials back what it did in the Garmin 55 and actually reduces the number of resolution and frame rates a user has access to. Now, the 65 only offers 1080P at 30 FPS. We think this is better if there are any overheating battery issues. When we talked to Garmin, they mentioned that the operating temperature of the device was from 30 degrees to 130 degrees Fahrenheit which is pretty poor compared to the industry standard of around 150 degrees.
Those who don’t speak English and couldn’t utilize the Voice Commands should now be rejoicing as Garmin has implemented several other popular languages such as French, Italian and German. Where’s the Spanish?!
The last thing I wanted to chat about was the magnetic mount that comes with all Garmin Dash Cams. This is something you don’t see in the dash cam world. Since it is so light, all you have to do is install a magnetic mount anywhere on your windshield. We recommend out of the way behind the rear view mirror. This is because a magnetic piece will stay on your windshield but still allow you to remove the entire dash cam.
This is especially useful if you don’t want to keep your dash cam visible to others. It’s as simple as disconnecting the power and taking it off the magnetic mount.