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Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera review: Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera

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The Good After a simple, 30-minute installation, the Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera seamlessly and automatically delivers video of the area behind the vehicle to a Magellan portable navigation device. The waterproof camera features an ultrawide field of view and good low-light sensitivity.

The Bad The camera system can't operate as a standalone unit, requiring an expensive PND to function. Spade connectors supplied for installation are slightly too large for the wires they're expected to join.

The Bottom Line The Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera boosts the functionality of the RoadMate 9055-LM and upgrades the safety and convenience of any vehicle with very little effort.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9

For some time now, Magellan has offered a line of massive GPS navigation devices with wide 7-inch screens, the newest of which is the RoadMate 9055-LM. Who would want or need to mount what basically amounts to a tablet on the windshield? RV and large-truck drivers often find these larger units useful because the mounting point can be farther away from the driver's seating position than it is in the average passenger car.

Odds are that if a vehicle is large enough to merit a 7-inch GPS device then it's got a blind spot the size of a Toyota Yaris in its wake, which can make tricky tasks out of the simple acts of reversing out of a garage or parallel parking. This is why Magellan offers the Wireless Back-Up Camera as an upgrade to the 9055-LM.

The Wireless Back-Up Camera consists of four major components: the camera itself, a wireless transmitter, a wireless receiver, and a 12-volt power adapter. Essentially, these components work together to deliver a wide-angle view of the area directly behind the vehicle to the 9055-LM's large screen without your having to run cables all the way to the back of your recreational vehicle. (We did our testing in a little yellow hatchback, a vehicle too small to merit wireless video transmission or a gigantic screen.)

Also included in the kit are a pair of wire taps, a pair of spade connectors, a power adapter that enables the camera to be used with Magellan's RoadMate 1700 as well, and a multilingual installation guide.

Installing the camera and transmitter
The camera itself is fairly simple to install if you're familiar with basic hand tools and don't mind using a few of them on your precious ride. I did our entire installation with only a pair of Phillips screwdrivers of differing blade thicknesses and a wire crimper, but your specific vehicle may require socket wrenches or other tools to remove some of the bits that I'll be describing momentarily.

The first step of installation is mounting the camera. This is as simple as removing the top two screws that hold your rear license plate and frame in place, and then using those same screws to attach the camera assembly to the license plate and car. If your plate is attached to the car with four screws, you only have to remove the top pair, which should make positioning everything much easier. Also note that thicker license plate frames may interfere with mounting the camera, so you may have to give up that chromed-plastic, chain-link frame in the pursuit of safety. (It never did look right on the back of your minivan anyway.) Just like that, you're halfway done. Owners who park their cars on the street and want a bit more security should consider upgrading their license plate screws to a less common type, perhaps one that uses a hex key or, even better, a pin-in-hex security socket, to protect the camera from being carried off by garden-variety thieves.

Next, you'll need to connect the camera's transmitter to power. In the case of the Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera, your car's reversing lights provide both power and notification that the vehicle is backing up, so you've only one connection (two wire taps) to make. Using your screwdriver (or socket wrench, if necessary), remove one of your vehicle's rear light clusters and locate the connection for the reverse light. Note that not all cars house their reverse lights in the main cluster: the Scion xB springs to mind, for example.

The hard part, depending on your vehicle's setup, is going to be getting the wires from the transmitter box to reach the reverse lights and then getting the camera's connections to reach the transmitter box, so take a minute (or a half hour) to figure out how you're going to run your wires before making any connections. Vehicles with bumper-mounted license plates are easier to figure out than those with their plates on the trunk or hatch, which introduces the additional complexity of moving parts, weather sealing, and longer cable-routing distances. Every model of car is different, so you're on your own in figuring this step out. Best of luck to you.

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