For drivers, dash cams have become incredibly important over time.
As the number of cars on the road has increased globally, it has become crucial to ensure that there is adequate proof of liability when accidents happen. There is no better proof than video footage and that is exactly what dash cams help you capture.
Strategically placed at the front of a car, a dash cam constantly records the surroundings and keeps the video stored for a period of time. When something happens, this footage can be retrieved and used, either for insurance purposes or to establish fault in a legal situation.
Today’s comparison is between two similarly priced dash cams, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 and the Nexar Beam. The focus here is on dash cams that have a small footprint and come at a budget and yet provide excellent performance and features.
Read on to find out which of these two can be the right choice for you, depending on your requirements.
The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 and the Nexar Beam are both small-budget dash cams that are also priced very similarly.
In fact, the MSRP of the base model Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 comes at around $10 less than the Nexar Beam — both of which are available in the sub-$150 price range. The final price will depend on the amount of local storage you choose to purchase and additional accessories, if any.
While the cameras are very similar in many ways, they are both entry-level cameras and lack certain advanced features.
If you are in the market for a camera that is small, inexpensive, and has basic features that you can rely on, either of these two can be a good choice. There are certain differences in terms of value-added services and their pricing impact over time, which is an important consideration if you plan to use either of these dash cams for an extended length of time.
The Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is very small, weighing in at only 32.1g.
In spite of its diminutive size, you get a lot of goodies in the box. Apart from the camera itself, you will also find the traditional Garmin low-profile adhesive mounting system, which makes it easy to attach the camera to your car without it protruding too much.
You also have the appropriate vehicle power cables to ensure seamless operation, and a dual-USB power adapter. This is significant as there is always a free USB port even when the camera is in use, where you can plug in your phone or other accessories.
The camera does require a memory card installed to function, but this is not included in the package. You have to separately purchase a Class 10 memory card with a minimum capacity of 8GB. There is support going up to 512GB if you want to collect footage over longer periods of time.
The camera does not include a display or a battery, instead choosing to use a supercapacitor for power backup during brief supply interruptions.
In case of the Nexar Beam, you have quite a few options to choose from during your purchase. By default, the dash cam comes with a 32GB memory card, which is good for up to 4 hours of footage.
You can instead choose a 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB memory card for a revised purchasing price. The largest memory card option is good enough for capturing footage over 36 hours.
The camera can also be purchased with two different mounting hardware options.
For the base price, you get the standard suction cup mount. For a few dollars more, you can get the camera with an included suction cup mount as well as a sticker mount for more versatility during installation.
In the box, you will find the camera, the mounting mechanism of your choice, installation tools, cable clips, a USB charger, and a long USB cable. While there is no dual-USB, the long cable makes it easier to install the camera in unconventional locations if you want.
Camera and Video
The most important component of any dash cam is the actual camera, as this decides the quality and resolution of the footage.
Blurry, unclear footage is useless in scenarios where people use dash cams. For this reason, it’s critical to have quality camera modules if you want to use a dash cam to good effect.
Both the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 and the Nexar Beam are capable of recording full-HD 1080p video during both day and night.
The camera module in the Garmin model is a 2.1MP sensor that is capable of recording either 720p or 1080p video at a rate of 30 frames per second. This is equipped with a maximum diagonal field of view of 140 degrees. There is a G-sensor built in to detect incidents and start recording automatically.
The Nexar Beam dash cam uses a 2MP sensor to achieve a maximum recording resolution of 1080p at 30 frames per second. The camera provides a maximum field of view of 135 degrees while also being fitted with a Bosch G-sensor for incident detection.
The GC2053 CMOS sensor module is a popular choice with many video products and is known for its solid performance. The camera is capable of both day and night-time recording.
Both the Garmin Dash Cam 2 Mini and the Nexar Beam support audio recording. This can be enabled or disabled using a button on the chassis.
The first and most important feature that truly sets these dash cams apart is GPS support, which can really play into your purchasing decision. GPS support can help add location information to videos, a great option to have if you want to tie a particular moment in the footage to a particular location.
In the Nexar Beam, you have a built-in GPS module that provides this feature, instantly adding location details to videos.
With that said, in the Garmin Dash Cam 2 Mini, there is no integrated GPS module and therefore no support for GPS tagging of video. The only way you can sync GPS data with footage recorded with this camera is if it is synced with another Garmin dash cam that does have integrated GPS.
Both cameras record footage in a cyclical manner. The footage is constantly rewritten when the memory card gets full, with the most recent footage overwriting the oldest footage chronologically.
While you do have the option of using a higher-capacity card to maximize local storage, an alternative is to opt for the cloud storage facility that is provided by the manufacturer. This is where the cameras differ significantly yet again.
Garmin utilizes the Garmin Vault, a value-added service that provides cloud storage where local videos are stored, by default for a period of 24 hours. Moreover, if you want your footage to be stored for longer, you need to purchase a subscription plan.
For a standard plan of $4.99 per month, your footage will be stored for a period of 7 days while the advanced plan of $9.99 per month will help store your footage on the cloud for 30 days. There is no size limit for the video footage.
The subscription can also allow you to remotely view the video feed or livestream the video using the Garmin app. This is useful if you want to monitor the surroundings of your parked car when you are not nearby.
The Nexar Beam camera deals with this in a different manner. The camera comes with the unlimited Nexar Cloud service which is offered free of cost.
The way this works is that any suspicious event occurring while driving is automatically clipped from the video and saved immediately to the Nexar Cloud free of cost. This includes events like accidents and hard braking.
On top of this, you can opt for the $9.99 Nexar Connect monthly subscription, which opens up other features like livestreaming, remote monitoring, and video sharing.
Both cameras also offer some safety and security features while the car is parked.
With the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2, the Parking Guard feature can help detect activity around the parked car and send you a video notification alert. Pertaining to this, for this to work, your dash cam needs to be connected directly with the car battery using the Constant Power cable which is sold separately.
The Nexar Beam has a similar feature that activates during parking. This can automatically detect activity and intrusion and immediately start recording. There is also a driver safety feature that automatically alerts your emergency contacts once a collision is detected with location information and a one-tap launch option for 911.
The Nexar Beam can also quickly generate detailed accident reports with one click. Both cameras offer extended options and features when paired with their respective mobile apps.
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Your Decision, Your Life
Both the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 and the Nexar Beam are extremely capable and discrete dash cams with basic functions and stellar video quality.
Either can be a perspicacious choice for normal use.
If you have other Garmin cameras or GPS equipment, it can make sense to stay within that ecosystem. On the other hand, if you want GPS tagging and less expensive cloud storage options, open the door for the Nexar Beam.