Garmin GDR-35 Standalone HD Driving Recorder Review and Video Sample

Garmin GDR-35 Standalone HD Driving Recorder

After the Russian meteor incident, everybody wants to install a dashcam. Garmin is quick to get to the market its own unique version.

The new Garmin GDR-35 is a Full High Definition (1920 x 1080 30fps Full HD) standalone dash cam. It records to a Micro SD card in endless loop, if so configured. What is special about the GDR-35 is its surprisingly good video quality.

What makes it stand out from the rest is its ability to record the built-in GPS receiver’s coordinates, time and tracks into the metadata of the AVI files. When played back on Garmin’s proprietary PC Tool software, you can see on Google Map where the car was travelling through. Even without the software, the coordinates, speed and time are superimposed on the bottom left of the video as evidence or as time/place logging.

Garmin cleverly made use of gyro (gravity) sensors that detect a collision or any harsh movement on the vehicle and protects the files automatically. That means in the event of an accident, vital files are not erased.

The lens is f2.0 and performs quite well at night, too. The GDR-35 can also connect to an optional rear view camera and record both views in split 720p mode. In Full HD mode, I get about 6 to 7 hours of recording on a Sandisk 32 gig Class 10 Micro SD card.

Pros:
Good video quality and specs for the price.
Gyro-based file protect system.
Wide angle view of 110 degree (equivalent to a full frame 15mm lens).
Easy, fuss-free, auto start and background recording for non-technical users.
Many configurable options for advanced users.
LCD screen can be set to black out while recording goes on.
On-screen GPS signal strength meter.
EV (exposure value) adjustment (added after new firmware/software update).
Very compact design, convenient to store when not in use.
Built-in battery operates for about an hour.
Easy to update firmware via Micro SD card.
Very long DC cable included.

Cons:
White balance tends to jump easily when influenced by sudden colour change.
DC power socket should be on upper part of camera for neater mounting.
Each file is limited to 3min 50 secs long which means you end up with many files in one day of driving. (Files joined seamlessly though)
H264 compression files are tough to edit even on a 8 core i7 / 16 gig ram SSD system.
Even normally tolerant Edius Editing System needed to convert to Canopus HQ before it is manageable on the timeline.
The native files appear like anamorphic video looking squished instead of true 16:9 ratio. (Edius fixed that easily though)
Windscreen suction mount arm can be better designed.
PC Tool’s map tracking playback not as smooth as previous GPS/software combo.
No GPS navigation feature available but then is more of a video camera.
Tiny Micro SD card can fall into crevices in the car when not carefully handled.

Watch this special review / real world tests with Full HD video samples of the camera going from night, day, rain and shine.

Very slight colour and brightness grading with Edius. Sharpness +10 applied to compensate for lossy compression after conversion for YouTube. Opening product shots of mounted Garmin GDR35 filmed with Olympus OM-D. Enjoy the ride!

7 thoughts on “Garmin GDR-35 Standalone HD Driving Recorder Review and Video Sample

  1. I can’t get the PC Tool software to work. It keeps displaying Rendering Error messages. Tried uninstall and re-install still don’t work. Have you experienced that? Can advise any remedies?

    Thanks!

  2. I have acqured a Garmin GDR 35D camera recorder with twin cameras but the instruction book is in Chinese and there is no CD in the pack for the software tools. Can anybody help by pointing to where I can find an English version of the manual or help me out with an email copy?

    Lee Tracey
    UK

    • Hi Lee, have you figured it out yet? I just bought the GDR35D set in Taiwan, where I’ll be for another 3 weeks. I am taking it back to Holland with me. It has the English menus, so it should not be difficult to operate…Also, for the software, you can find downloads (updates for the unit software and for the PC tool on Garmin singapore web site):
      http://www.garmin.com.sg/products/ontheroad/gdr35/#updateTab
      http://www.garmin.com.sg/products/application/gdr35pctool/
      One question I stll have to the whole forum is about using the Google maps in Europe. That is, as the unit records the video, it also stores GPS coordinates with the file. Once I want to run the file on my PC, using the Garmin PC tool, will it automatically pick-up and display the local google maps?
      I appreciate your answers and support, thanks in advance!

  3. Stop the car. My Taiwanese friend just popped over and she could read the http://www.Garmin.TW page. We loaded that firmware and it worked perfectly (V2.7 with EV) so obviously the TW model will only accept the Taiwanese firmware. As you are in Malaysia the support site is SG. It;s a bit strange, I would think the hardware is the same. Non the less, while I am still very unhappy with Garmin support, at I have the new firmware :-)

    Thanks.

    • Hi Gazza, Glad to know is working out. I got my 2.8 from the SG site and updated it by popping in the SD and using the menu. You can stop/pause recording anytime by pressing menu button. I know is odd. Feel free to ask/share any any additional info here. Thanks too for looking at my gallery :-)

  4. Hi

    Great review. I got one of these while in Taiwan recently. I have been unable to update the firmware and Tech Support are really useless, I have emailed every address I could find, one reply “Where do you live” then nothing since. Very poor indeed.

    So I am very keen to know how you got the firmware to load. I may have my stupid hat on and be doing something really dumb, so please bear with me.

    I have been using the SG site as it’s in English
    http://www.garmin.com.sg/products/ontheroad/gdr35/#updateTab

    I extracted the V2.8 exe file from the above site and ended up with a BIN file as expected. I tried installing the BIN file on both the root directory of the Micro Sim and also the Garmin directory, I then plug it in to the GDR and turn it on. I have even tried the firmware update option in the menu, but still no luck. The GDR starts recording as soon as I power it on, I can’t stop this, so I think this is why it will not update.

    One set of instructions say it will load the firmware automatically, but the exe/bin file instructions say to go to the menu, stop the recording then go to the update option. I can’t find any menu option to stop recording. It just starts as soon as I power it on. I think the exe prints the wrong model’s instructions.

    “Touch the driving recorder icon on the top right” (there isn’t one and it’s not a touch screen device)

    “Tools – Driving Recorder – Setting – Stop recording” (Non of these options exist in the menus’

    I also tried to go to the menu to “Settings” – “Software Update” – but it just says Recorder version 2.50 no update file found – I assume this is because it is still running.

    So I am keen to hear any tips. What site did you get your firmware by the way?

    Thanks Gazza

    PS; You have taken some really gorgeous photo’s, “The other Side” is so simple yet really draws you in to look and look again. I’m glad I got to view your site.

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