Garmin Speak Plus: Dashcam, and Amazon Alexa Together, But is It Good? - AutoCar News

Garmin Speak Plus: Dashcam, and Amazon Alexa Together, But is It Good?

If you’re a techno-geek whilst being a gearhead, then you probably already own a dashcam for your car. You probably also have a neat little feature known as Bluetooth for your car. Now there’s a new product on the market that wraps up a whole bunch of little tech features into one package. It’s the Garmin Speak Plus.

If you’re anything like this post author, you’re a little skeptical at first. All these big names – Garmin, Amazon, Apple, Android – they all have their own agenda to push. Add a tiny little feature to a product and push it out as a ‘Plus’ or a ‘2.0’. I’d figured the Garmin Speak Plus was the same thing. But it’s not. It’s a big feature that’s becoming much more popular – a dashcam.

What is Garmin Speak Plus?

Alright, so this isn’t a sales plug, because it’s going to be reviewed. And the Garmin Speak Plus certainly isn’t perfect. Let’s explore the Garmin Speak Plus features:

  • The Dashcam. It’s the reason it’s the Plus after all. Virtually all other features remain the same as the Garmin Speak, but with the fantastic addition of a dashcam. The dashcam feature also enables driver-assistive features like lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
  • Music. It’s ridiculous how many music features Garmin Speak Plus integrates with. Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, Prime Music – it’s all available.
  • Drive with Garmin GPS Directions. Voice commands are all it takes to get turn-by-turn directions through your radio.
  • Remotely Control Home Devices. Yes, like all other Amazon Alexa devices, you can access your home devices while you’re on the road.
  • The App. It’s all controlled by the app. You view your dashcam footage on the app, stream music from your phone’s app, and get your data connection through the app.
  • Amazon Alexa. Just like you can do at home, Alexa is your personal assistant in your car. Dictate notes, ask for historical information on local hotspots, or ask Alexa to tell you a joke. Same ol’ Amazon Alexa.

Let’s Review Garmin Speak Plus

First, the unboxing. It’s well-packed like you’d expect. And what you get is a compact, solid-feeling little device. It’s small enough that you might wonder if it’s going to do what it says it will.

It mounts quite easily to the windshield too. But before you mount it, it’s a great idea to test it out. Plug in the wires to the power outlet and set it up…that’s where there could be a problem. The Garmin Speak Plus isn’t as easy to connect as you’d imagine, even when you follow the instructions to the letter. But once you (finally) get the device to connect to your smartphone and play through your car’s speakers, you’ll be awestruck.

Garmin Speak Plus sounds great. It’s crystal clear through the speakers. You’ll need to get familiar with the Alexa commands, but they’re fairly natural.

Then, you’ll need to mount it on the windshield, which is essentially a strong sticker with a metal plate. It uses a magnet on the device to fasten to the plate, making installation and removal super simple. The wiring looks like a mess unless you go through the trouble of routing the cord tucked away behind the trim. I’d suggest you do that. Once it’s mounted, the only thing you’ll need access to is the SD card, and that’s quite easy too.

When you drive, make sure your Garmin Speak Plus is in a quiet(ish) area. Otherwise, Alexa won’t be able to recognize what you’re saying accurately.

Video quality is surprisingly good for its price and its features, even though everyone knows that camera technology has come a very long way in the past few years. Again, when you mount it, take the time to clean the windshield in front of the camera. It will help with clarity.

After a Day or Two…

The problems are few, but they’re annoying. When Garmin Speak Plus is working, it’s great. But getting it working sometimes is just plain frustrating. I don’t know if it’s a smartphone connection issue or the device itself, but it doesn’t always connect immediately when the ignition is turned on. It does sometimes, just not all the time.

On top of the connection issue, there’s only one real complaint with Garmin Speak Plus: Bluetooth calling, or the lack thereof. Your vehicle will need another source for placing calls handsfree. While everything else seems to be really good, it’s a small annoyance that you’d expect to be a part of the Garmin Speak Plus.

Overall Impression

For just over $200US, the Garmin Speak Plus is a good buy. It has a few small things that could be changed for a V2.0 but overall, it’s a product I’d endorse.

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