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January 6, 2012
- Works with Magellan GPS units
- Activates automatically when in reverse
- Wireless connection from camera to GPS
- Requires a little bit of car/electrician skills to get setup
- A little pricey
The Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera is a system that works with a compatible Magellan GPS unit and uses a camera attached to the license plate to relay the image behind your vehicle to your GPS' display. This is a valuable tool for large vehicles or for anyone who wants to be safe while backing up. The installation of the unit is a little involved, but nothing too bad for anyone with moderate car or electrical experience.
The Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera consists of several different elements that work together in tandem. First, the camera is attached to a black plastic bracket that is screwed onto the two upper (or lower) license plate screws in the rear of your vehicle. The camera tilts vertically, so it can be adjusted to the needs of your vehicle. This makes it so it can work with a large vehicle, like an RV, or a small sedan. The camera claims to have a 45 foot range, but we think that it's really more like 20-30 feet. However, this is still more than adequate.
Once the license plate camera is installed, it connects to a wireless transponder in two ways, video and power. The transponder also has to be connected to the car's reverse light relay, which is where a little car and electrical expertise comes in handy. You must locate the wire that connects to your car's reverse light and connect a black and red wire to it. Magellan supplies you with quick slide T-Tap connectors and quick disconnect terminals to do the job. The reason for this connection is two fold: first to supply electricity to the back-up camera and transmitter and secondly, to only activate the camera when the car is in reverse.
The second part of the install is inside the car, which is really simple. Magellan gives you a wireless receiver that plugs into both the car's 12V power outlet and the GPS's AV-in port. The GPS also connects to the 12V power outlet through this cable as well to keep cables to the minimum. Using the Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T that we reviewed last week, we had no issues getting it working on the first try. It worked exactly as it should; the camera activates when the car is shifted in reverse and turns off when the car comes out of reverse.
In total, the installation should take about an hour. Most of the time requires is to figure out what car wire to use and getting everything locked in and stowed once connected.
In a second car, however, we were unable to get it to work once it was installed, but that was due to wiring problem that we corrected. This is why it helps to know what you're doing, so don't hesitate to call on a more adept friend if necessary.
This is a really great feature to have for large vehicles that are difficult to see out the rear. Countless children and pets are hurt from vehicles backing up and hitting them each year and this is a way to prevent that. It also comes in handy when parking, especially parallel parking. It also works with your Magellan GPS units, which is really great because it means no additional devices aside from the small transmitters that we mentioned. Make sure, however, to check Magellan's list of supported GPS units before you buy. The wireless camera system is availble for around $150, which is $50 more than we would've liked to see it at, especially since you'll be dropping $150-$300 on a compatible Magellan GPS.