Offering a simple, four-wire installation on most vehicles, the Audiovox ACA250 wireless backup camera can be installed by a person comfortable with simple hand tools in an afternoon. For your labors, the camera system greatly increases the low-speed safety of your vehicle by giving you a looking into the large rear blind spot directly behind many large trucks and SUVs. For smaller cars, the addition of a backup camera may not open up too much more visibility, but we've found that they can be tremendously helpful for pinpoint accuracy when, for example, parallel parking.
However, with the ACA250's simplicity come rough edges in the form of interference from other wireless sources, sometimes with surprising results.
Typically, we don't include installation when reviewing a product, but seeing how Audiovox has made the ease of installation a key selling point--going so far as to state that the ACA250 was designed for a DIY installation--we saw fit to make mention of our experiences while installing the device.
The ACA250 rearview camera system consists of two parts: the camera itself and the monitor. The camera mounts at the rear of the vehicle and features a 110-degree wide-angle lens. Flanking the lens are six infrared LEDs.
The camera installation varies in simplicity from vehicle to vehicle, but the steps are essentially the same. First remove two screws holding the vehicle license plate, line the camera's mounting holes up with those of the license plate, and attach the device to the vehicle with the two longer screws included with installation kit.
Next, route the camera's power wires to the reverse lights. How difficult this is depends on your vehicle's rear configuration. Vehicles with reverse lights near the license plate frame offer the easiest installation, while other vehicles--such as our test Chevrolet Aveo, which features a license plate frame on the liftgate and reverse lights on the vehicle body--will require the removal of many body panels and complicated routing of the wires.
Once the wires are routed near the reverse lights, we simply tap the reverse light's power wires and the installation is complete. However, the included wiretaps were unable to pierce the hardened insulating jacket of our reverse lights, so we ended up cutting, stripping, and splicing the wires. Once the wires are tapped, close everything back up and move on the monitor installation.
The monitor is a 2.5-inch color unit that features an adhesive mounting plate for easy installation anywhere there's a flat spot on the vehicle's dashboard. The unit can either be hardwired to any 12-volt source behind the dashboard, or simply plugged into a 12-volt round plug via the included adapter.
When the driver places the vehicle in reverse, power flows to the tapped reverse light, activating the rearview camera. The camera communicates with the monitor using a 2.5 GHz wireless signal, so there are no wires run through the vehicle's cabin. The image is clear, if tiny, and full color, making it easy to discern what or who is directly behind the vehicle.
At night or if the backup lights are blown or otherwise inadequate, the infrared LEDs illuminate in a spectrum that is visible to the camera, but invisible to the human eye. This infrared illumination allows the camera to effectively operate in low light situations, albeit at the expense of color.