Garmin NuviCam LMT-D – Dashcam loaded SatNav review

garmin nuvicam reviewA day doesn’t seem to go by without someone posting or sharing some dashcam or helmetcam footage on my Facebook timeline. Once these only appeared to be from Eastern Europe but lately the UK is representing and this aligns with the latest figures that dashcams have seen a 918% rise in sales in the UK over the last year. Garmin, a well known and respected GPS brand have brought their navigation know-how along with a natty dashcam which together makes the Garmin nüviCam LMT-D.

I must say that Garmin aren’t daft. They have obviously seen smartphone apps such as CoPilot take chunks out of the GPS market as well as the growing need to be able to prove who did what in an accident and put the two things together. It would have been easy for Garmin to have done just that but they seem to have put it in a really smart package with premium looks and build quality. But does it actually work?

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D design

Let’s be honest here. The unique selling point (USP) of the nüviCam is that Cam bit.

garmin nuvicam cameraSo, starting around back, you can see the 800 x 400 pixel camera which is set in a swivelling housing. This allows it to be angled towards the centre of the road ahead from wherever the unit is placed on the windscreen. This is aided by a prompted set-up menu whenever you fire the sat nav up. I particularly enjoyed the fact that this is done with the aid of a first person shooter-style crosshairs target. Too much Counter Strike you say?

In the picture above you can also see the on/off button at the top left of the device.

garmin nuvicam boxGarmin bundle in a 4GB microSD memory card which slots into the underside of the unit. Here is where you’ll also find the other ports.

garmin nuvicam ports and slotsThis captures around 45 minutes of footage in full HD, 1080p resolution although you can change this to 720p in the settings, if you want to save more footage. If you have a card reader, you can pop the card out and download footage to a safe place so you don’t accidentally delete it (more on that later).

The rest of the unit, should you have experienced any of Garmin’s other nüvi gear, is housed in the same high quality body.

The GPS device features FourSquare points of interest (POI) support, programmable voice recognition, Bluetooth to link to your smartphone and sync Garmin’s excellent SmartLink app (this adds traffic support) and all of this is sent to you by way of a 6-inch touchscreen display that clamps to your windscreen via a top-notch magnetised housing.

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D performance and features

The Garmin nüviCam attaches to the windscreen housing with a satisfying clunk and the whole unit seems sturdy and of a decent quality.

The nüviCam is a decent navigation unit, as you would expect from Garmin, but it has a number of extra features.

We have already talked about the HD dash cam which is continuously recording but that camera is also used so that the unit can sense if you’re following too close to the vehicle in front of you when travelling over 30mph – I guess it could get annoying when you’re crawling bumper-to-bumper in traffic otherwise. If you exceed 40 mph, the nüviCam recognises when you’re drifting out of lane. In both of these instances, nüviCam will then alert you so you can take the relevant action.

Audio recording is an option you can turn on or off, depending on how sweary your driving style is. Again, this is handy if you are documenting your roadtrip down Route 66, perhaps not so interesting if stuck behind a queue of caravans on the A1. Just remember that potty-mouth if you have it switched on 😉

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D set-up

When you first switch on the nüviCam you just have to quickly calibrate the camera and accept a couple of disclaimers and then you’re good to go.

garmin nuvicam start screenAddresses can be typed in manually or dictated via voice command, which recognises standard phrases such as “view map”, “find place”, “find category”, “recently found”, and so on.

Once you’re on the road it’s a relief to say that the glass screen’s high-resolution, pinch-to-zoom display works quickly and accurately.

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D GPS

After all, this is the main point of a device such as the nüviCam. Thankfully Garmin haven’t cut any corners here. The widescreen display is responsive and thanks to its sharp, hi-res screen, everything is clear.

garmin nuvicam bracketIt can catch a little glare on its shiny glass face and it could be tricky to place depending on how much windscreen real-estate you have. The car used to test the nüviCam (thanks Syed!) has an on-board computer whose display sits higher than the dashboard, probably where the nüviCam would normally sit. This meant a little trial-and-error in finding the perfect situation for the 6-inch widescreen display so that it could be easily seen by the driver whilst not obscuring the view of the road ahead.

The user interface (UI) is simple, clear and direct offering a Where To? search or a map view to start you off. The voice command pops up immediately, offering you the option to tell the device your postcode. This works most of the time, as long as you attempt perfect, clear diction. Mumbling places in a thick Yorkshire accent? Not so much.

The Garmin nüviCam syncs with Garmin’s smartphone app which enables you to chuck addresses to it via your contacts, and add traffic updates over 4G.

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Mobile phone numbers can also be dialled from the app via voice command and you can change the volume up or down with a few, pointed instructions.

Garmin maps now flash up brand locations as you breeze by, so stopping at BP garages, Morrison’s supermarkets or worshiping in the golden arched temple of the Happy Meal are all available should that be your kind of thing.

The turning instructions, direction graphics and lane change notifications all remain Garmin’s dependable best. Obviously this is a personal thing as to which brand of GPS map you prefer, and I do have a soft spot for Garmin’s design.

real-directionsWhen entering unfamiliar territory, this is where Garmin’s Real Directions really comes in handy.

This system uses local landmarks and traffic lights as reference points, so you get phrases such as “In 500 feet, turn left at Marks and Spencer” instead of simply, “Turn left in 500 feet.”

On the screen, a rendering of the area pops up, with a highlighted purple arrow illuminating the correct route and exit sign if applicable. This technology works great in busy towns and city areas especially, and helps to give you a better sense of direction thanks to its use of visible landmarks. Missing your turn now becomes solely your fault though.

Once you arrive at your destination, Garmin Real Vision kicks in. Using the dash cam the nüviCam displays a real image of your surroundings, then overlays an animated arrow that points to the exact location you’ve told it to find. This is excellent when entering housing estates or looking for a particular shop in a high street filled with the same bland, safe, store fronts. This is a very nice touch indeed.

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D camera and safety

Garmin’s high-def dash cam is always recording when the device is on, providing a clear, unbiased visual account of accidents, alien abductions, unicycling lemurs, or whatever else it happens to capture. There’s even a still shot feature which, I am pretty sure is there to document vehicle damage but, let’s face it, it can also be used to quickly snap a pretty vista without you having to find your phone.

garmin nuvicam topWhen you want to take a photo use the Snap Shot feature and press the big red button on top of the unit and it will capture a still. This is not the ‘on’ button, as I originally thought.

garmin nuvicam rearBecause the nüviCam has an integrated G-sensor, it senses if you’re actually involved in a collision and automatically saves the video to its supplied 4GB MicroSD card.

Footage is chopped up into one-minute, 60MB chunks. Video is captured at Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, and the 8Mbits/sec data rate allows for reasonable quality – I did intend to show this but I had inadvertently wiped footage that was captured when the unit was on a test drive through the New Forest. Sorry.

The nuviCam sports two microSD card slots. One is the usual expansion port found on a sat-nav for installing custom maps, with the other dedicated to the dashboard camera. The bundled 4GB is probably sufficient for those who just want footage of accidents and whatnot but, if you want to archive your roadtrip, then grabbing a 128GB card might be the way to go.

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D Driver Assist

As well as the ability to record video and stills, the driver-assist safety features of the nüviCam really to help separate it from the competition.garmin nuvicam collisionThe Forward Collision Warning sounds very dramatic, and almost something you’d find in a cockpit but it’s nonetheless useful for those of you who spend time on the road. When traveling at more than 30 mph, the unit’s GPS and camera work together to determine safe following distance between you and the car ahead. If that distance is encroached upon, a red bar appears on the top of the screen and a audible warning sounds. You should be backing off now and allowing some extra room between you and the car in front.

Because it’s a camera-based system, Garmin’s Lane Departure Warning works by reading the solid white lane markers on either side of road. The sharp tones will keep you awake and should prevent you driving like a drunk shopping trolley.

Digital Traffic works well and proved to be pretty quick at warning of traffic jams. Digital Traffic is voice-activated, so it responds to spoken requests. It can give details about the situation, such as how many minutes of delay to expect and if there are any possible detours. It will even tell you if you’re on the fastest route.

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D review conclusion

The nüviCam is a really impressive kit. It’s well built, looks good and feels like an expensive bit of kit.

As well as being a solid performer in the GPS stakes, the added bonus of the dashcam brings with it neat tech such as its forward collision warning system and lane detection system. With things like that on-board having a stand-alone SatNav suddenly feels relevant again and they can once more thumb their digital noses at smartphones.

Yes, it is large at 6-inches but the mount is adjustable and you’ll soon find somewhere for the nüviCam to live.

If I was to look for any weaknesses I’d have to make them up so, as everything else is socially hooked-up, it might be fun when the nüviCam is linked to your smartphone that it could share stills or little video clips direct to your chosen feed or, perhaps, message the people you are visiting when you’re a minute-or-so away.

Garmin nüviCam LMT-D price and availability

As you have no doubt already figured, this is a premium, full featured SatNav with a good camera fitted to it that, in turn, gives it even more premium features. This will also mean that the Garmin nüviCam will have a premium price tag attached.

Personally I thought it would cost much more than it does, especially as you get free lifetime map updates too.

The Garmin nüviCam is available now and can be yours for for a RRP of £309.99 direct from Garmin.