The Garmin Dash Cam 56 was released in May 2019 as an update to the popular Dash Cam 55. Garmin is one of the few “brand name” manufacturers involved in the dash cam market and their cameras can be found at many “bricks and mortar” retailers which makes it attractive to many purchasers.
The Garmin Dash Cam 56 records 1440p at 30fps (same as the Dash Cam 55) with a bit rate of 30 Mbps (Dash Cam 55 was 19 Mbps). Video quality is very good during the day and average at night.
The rectangular camera is quite small at 56 mm x 40 mm x 21 mm. Even though it is small, the form factor makes it more visible than some of the wedge cameras or cylindrical cameras. On the positive side, the camera has a 2″ LCD screen which makes it easy to configure the camera.
The Dash Cam 56 comes with GPS, G-sensor and Bluetooth / WiFi. The camera can be paired to your Smart Phone running the Garmin Drive app to adjust settings or view / download videos. The Garmin Drive app is quite good and allows for up to 4 cameras to be synced with the app.
The Dash Cam 56 has numerous unique features:
- An adhesive magnetic mount that allows for easy install / removal from the vehicle
- Voice commands to control the camera: Save Video, Take a Picture, Record Audio, Stop Audio, Start Travelapse (record video) and Stop Travelapse
- Driver Assistance Settings (Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Go Alert) – many owners turn these off due to false positive alerts
- Speed and Red Light Cameras – subscription required
- Buffered parking mode which records 10 seconds prior to and about 30 seconds after a trigger
- Officially Supports 512GB microSD cards
One of the negatives of the Dash Cam 56 is that it uses a battery instead of a capacitor which is not ideal in hotter climates. The camera does have a temperature protection function which turns off the camera if it overheats before it gets damaged.
Garmin Dash Cam Model Comparison
In May 2019, Garmin released a new line of 4 dash cams:
- Dash Cam 46 (replaces the Dash Cam 45)
- Dash Cam 56 (replaces the Dash Cam 55)
- Dash Cam 66W (replaces the Dash Cam 66W)
- Dash Cam Mini (new model, has not proven to be reliable)
The Garmin Dash Cam 56 is arguably the best of the 4 cameras released. The Dash Cam 46 and Mini both record at 1080p and have worse video quality than the 56 and 66w which record at 1440p.
The 56 and 66W are identical from a specification perspective with the exception of viewing angle. The more expensive 66W has a much wider field of view (180° vs 140°) which gives the video a fish eye effect and the wider viewing angle makes it more difficult to read license plates. Hence the Garmin Dash Cam 56 offers the best picture quality for your dollar. A full comparison of specs for all Garmin Dash Cams can be seen in the following table.
Event Detection Sensitivity
Some owners indicate that the event detection is too sensitive and is triggered frequently on regular roads. Also there is no way to adjust event detection sensitivity in the settings. Note that this has only been reported a handful of times so this issue may not be widespread.
Should I Purchase?
Garmin has been producing dash cams for approximately 7 years and have been steadily improving their offerings. Video quality is good but not the best in the market, particularly at night. The camera is small and build quality is excellent however, the form factor is not the most discreet. The biggest concern is that the Dash Cam 56 uses a battery rather than a capacitor which typically makes a dash cam less suitable in hot environments.
That being said, some consumers want a name brand product with a company that will provide customer support if needed, including regular firmware updates. The ability to purchase this camera at your local Best Buy or Costco and have full customer support is a great selling feature and worth the premium to many buyers.
Overall the Garmin Dash Cam 56 is the best “brand name” camera available today. If you don’t care about the brand, the VIOFO A119 V3 offers better performance for a lower price.
To see what other owners have to say about this camera, visit our Garmin Dash Cam 56 forum.
Where to purchase for lowest price
The Garmin Dash Cam 56 sells for approximately $170 and is available online and at many “bricks and mortar” retailers:
WARNING! MAKING CHANGES TO YOUR FIRMWARE ARE PERFORMED AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE TO YOUR DASH CAM AS A RESULT OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
To update to the latest firmware for the Dash Cam 56, you will need to update it with the Garmin Express Application.
You can download the owners manual here.
Published: January 3, 2018