Dash cams: important, useful, and they keep you protected. Sat navs: important, useful, and they get you to where you need to go. However, having both a dash cam and sat nav installed on your windscreen could lead to a cluttered space that might be distracting... make them dangerous. That's why we're pleased to check out a sat nav that is also a dash cam, the Mio MiVue Drive 55LM.
Our most recent dash cam review (we've done a few) was for the RAC 205, a compact 'camera-only' gadget with a tiny screen and small form factor. The Mio MiVue Drive 55LM is the opposite of that, boasting so much more than just a camera, and a screen about the same size as your phone's. The five inch device not only captures footage from the road ahead in glorious Extreme HD (1296p) but also acts like a usable touch-screen sat nav.
In fact, from the driver's point of view, the Mio MiVue Drive 55LM looks just like a conventional sat nav, with the entire face taken up by the screen and all controls in the form of nice and chunky buttons. Spin it around and you'll see the lens; one that can actually be angled around to get a better view.
Which is important. Think about it; you sat nav is usually turned to face you in the driver's seat, meaning a fixed camera lens on the other side wouldn't point directly forwards toward the road. Being able to adjust the angle means you can adjust the screen, giving the best view of the directions, while also capturing the action. It was the first thing that struck us as pretty awesome, and is a feature that we wished conventional dash cams had as standard.
Right, first up, the camera itself. The Extreme HD picture is nice and clear, although we can't really tell the difference between this and 1080p (or rather a decent 1080p camera). Still that extra crispness will come in handy if you need to zoom into an image to check number plates etc., and the 140 degree lens means that everything ahead of you covered, with enough of what is to the sides to make it an immersive image.
A 16GB Micro SD card is included with the cam, and obviously loop recording can be set so you can forget about ever having to empty the storage. Settings and playback are controlled through the touchscreen, with the camera having its own app just like on your phone. This makes for an easy and pleasurable set-up, with no physical buttons having multiple uses, like on many smaller cams.
The navigation function works just like any other sat nav we've tested, with a big search button waiting for you when you first power it up. The GPS connection always seemed very strong, and Mio promise updates to the road layout for life – for free – which is nice. Just like any other nav device like this, you can set favourite places to bring up directions quickly, or just cruise around with the map displaying your current location, to help with upcoming turns and bends. After using it for just a couple of miles, we essentially forgot it was a dash cam – that's how sat nav-y it looks and feels.
As well as showing you the road ahead, the Mio MiVue Drive 55LM features speed camera warnings as standard, and again Mio will keep you updated forever. However, it also does something a normal sat nav can't, all thanks to the camera. You'll be kept extra safe by the lane departure warning system, which keeps an eye on the lines of the road ahead, and alerts you if you start to drift out of them, possibly because you're falling asleep. It also boasts forward collision warnings too, whereby if the distancne between you and the car ahead suddenly decreases, it chirps up to make sure you're aware. Again, not something your normal sat nav can do.
Included along with the device and SD card is a suction cup mount and the standard power lead, although the Mio MiVue Drive 55LM does have a battery to keep it powered for some time – especially useful if you need to film something away from the vehicle, such as the aftermath of a crash. Altogether this is a genius idea that saves both space on your dashboard, and cash in your bank account. We love it.