I live in a four season part of the country. Each season has its own special beauty and appeal. Each, it's own hazards. In the fall we see the leaves come down off the trees and cover our sidewalks and lawn. In the winter it's the ice and snow and shoveling sidewalks and driveways. In the spring and summer its tricycles, bicycles, skateboards and kids all over the place.
For as dangerous as wet leaves can be, and as treacherous as ice and snow can be, nothing scares a driver more than the possibility of backing his car up into an oncoming small child. Many new cars are now coming equipped with rearview cameras built-in. Not all of us intend to go out tomorrow and trade in our car to get the benefit of this new technology. To help with that, a number of manufacturers have designed aftermarket rearview cameras that can be installed in vehicles that have existing screens for viewing. Some of the challenges of these products are the size of the built-in screen in the existing vehicle and also running the wires from front to back within your vehicle. This can be especially challenging if you have a larger minivan truck or SUV.
To help solve this dilemma and make the possibility of a backup camera available to any vehicle, including larger trucks, Magellan® has produced their Wireless Back-Up Camera. We had an opportunity to install this and use it in conjunction with their RoadMate 9055 GPS which we previously reviewed.
Specs and Features
The CMOS imaging sensor in the camera has a 640x480 resolution with an approximate 100° vertical by 120° horitzontal view. This is a slightly 'fish-eyed' perspective but great for seeing everything behind your vehicle. The output to the GPS screen is mirrored so that when you look at the screen in front of you, the image reflects the correct position of objects behind you.
The camera mounts neatly over the rear license plate. The wireless transmitter attached to the camera operates in the 2.4Mhz frequency range. Don't confuse this with the 2.4Ghz range that microwave ovens and many cordless phones use. You shouldn't expect any interference at these frequencies and we did not experience any. The transmitter has a 45' range so it will not only work for all standard vehicles but also on small to mid-size trucks. This can be incredibly helpful if you tow a travel trailer or have a motorhome built before this technology was factory installed.
The camera is dustproof and water proof. It is rated IP67 which means in normal English, it is totally protected against dust and protected against the effect of immersion between 15cm and 1 meter. In other words, it should withstand normal use in the elements.
Lastly, Magellan recommends professional installation. That's a really good idea. Here's why...
Like any tech crazed group we wanted to open the box and install the product ourselves. The components, as you can see in the picture, seem simple enough. However, this is not an issue of the technology in the box but of the car wiring harness. If you don't have years of experience installing things in late-model cars with spaghetti like wiring harnesses, attempting the installation and expecting not to see smoke somewhere along the way is a pipe dream, at best.
Every brand of automobile has its own wiring model and harness layout. There are hundreds of lines running between everything from your electric door locks to your trunk release. This includes every light and electric option in the vehicle. You don't want to mess this up!
After I was able to quell the sounds of disappointment and re-holster the eager screwdrivers and pliers, we set out on a little road trip to a local installation firm called All That Jazz. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and in the video below you'll see several thousand worth. It took them a little over an hour to complete the installation and I think you'll understand as you see these pictures why you should leave this to the professionals.
Using the camera is as simple as putting your car in reverse. Being wired into the backup lights circuit, power to the camera is automatically triggered when the backup procedure begins. The system is programmed to override the GPS image on the screen with the picture coming from the camera and automatically revert once the car is taken out of reverse.
The image is reasonably sharp and clear with the 120° horizontal field of view being amply wide to see everything around the vehicle. Daytime images are excellent as well as those in well lit parking areas. I cannot give a strong endorsement to nighttime situations. Low light capabilities are not this camera's strong point.
Magellan's Wireless Back-Up Camera offers a very real option for vehicle owners looking to add rearview camera capability. It's wireless design makes installation simpler and more flexible for various kinds of vehicles. While it may not be as fancy or high-resolution as some available wired solutions, at $149.99 it does a first-rate job of delivering a clear crisp image.
Magellan's Wireless Back-Up Camera is available on line and in most brick and mortar electronics stores.