Garmin’s dash cams have been a favorite of ours for years, thanks to their compact design and simplicity. They also combine high quality video recording with wide lenses and a wide price range to suit most budgets.
The Dash Cam Tandem is one of its more unusual car camera offerings. As the name suggests, this is a dual lens dash cam; one faces forward out of the windshield as usual, the other faces rearward to capture a view from inside the car.
Apart from the addition of a rear camera, the Tandem is similar to other members of the Garmin Dash Cam line. It’s about the size of a matchbox and attaches to the windshield using a simple and remarkably compact ball joint attached to a small arm with a magnet. This then sticks to a coin-sized magnet that you attach to the windshield with tape. Two of these magnets are included in the box, so you can easily switch the dash cam between two cars if needed.
There are only two buttons on the Tandem. One is for manually recording some footage (a G-sensor automatically records footage when a collision is detected), and the other mutes and unmutes the microphone. For everything else, you can dig into Garmin’s Drive smartphone app, or say “ok, garmin” followed by commands like “record video” or “stop audio”.
Garmin Drive is more attractive than some of the bulkier dash cam apps offered by others, and the built-in Wi-Fi makes it quick to transfer footage to your phone. The app can also be used with up to four Garmin dash cams at once, with their images synchronized to give you a more complete view around your vehicle.
Other features include built-in GPS to embed accurate speed and location data into your videos, and a dual USB charger that plugs into the car’s 12V cigarette lighter socket and can be used to power both the dash cam and your smartphone. A 16GB microSD card is also included in the box.
The camera has a parking mode, for incident detection and video recording when your car is parked and turned off. However, this feature requires an additional cable, which plugs into your car’s fuse box, which you’ll probably want to pay a professional for.
Naturally, some drivers (and their passengers) won’t want a camera pointing at them, but for some specific use cases such a dash cam might be just what the buyer is looking for. This is primarily a dash cam for taxi, minicab and carpool drivers who might need the reassurance against unruly passengers that a camera like this might give.
That said, you should position the Tandem so that it has a clear view of the center rearview mirror. We found that the usual desire to hide a dash cam behind the mirror meant that its view in the cabin was obscured significantly. Mounting it lower on the windshield is the solution, and a live view feature in the Garmin Drive app helps align the camera correctly – and it’s the only way to do it, because unlike other cameras in Garmin dashboard, the Tandem has no display.
Both of its cameras have wide 180-degree lenses (wider than most other dash cams, in fact), but their resolutions vary. The front camera shoots at 1440p, which is slightly higher than Full HD 1080p, while the rear camera records at 720p, also known as regular HD.
The front-facing sensor benefits from HDR, helping to retain detail in the brightest and darkest parts of the camera’s view, while the rear-facing sensor has a night vision system infrared which Garmin calls NightGlo, helping to improve clarity in a dimly lit interior.
The Tandem’s forward-facing footage is just as good as what we’ve seen previously with the company’s 67W Dash Cam. That means crisp, clear images that make it easy to verify key details like vehicle license plates, road signs and road markings, should you ever need to present a recording as evidence after an incident.
Clear interior images, even at night, will be useful for taxi and rideshare drivers who may need evidence of problems caused by their passengers.
Finally, the Garmin Dash Cam Tandem doesn’t have a battery, instead relying on a supercapacitor to give it enough power to save footage and shut down properly when the car is off. With the optional wiring kit, the camera receives constant power from the car battery.