LAS VEGAS -- The new Dash Cams aren't the only Garmin product announced at CES to feature cameras. Nestled within the updated 2014 series of Nuvi GPS navigators, the Nuvi 2798LMT debuts as the first Nuvi to feature a wireless backup camera.
The Nuvi 2798LMT starts off with a massive 7-inch screen and boasts Garmin's outstanding navigation software with features that I've enjoyed on its latest flagship navigators, including voice-activated destination entry, free lifetime traffic and maps, and Active Lane Guidance with voice prompts. It also features Garmin Real Directions, which calls out landmarks in the turn-by-turn directions, so you may hear "Turn left at the gas station" instead of "...in 500 feet."
The 2798LMT's big "first" is the manufacturer's first wireless backup camera, a ruggedized and waterproof wide-angle camera that is mounted at the rear of the vehicle and is powered by the car's reverse lights. Installation and operation should be similar to that of the Magellan 9055 with its optional rear camera that we tested some time ago. When the driver shifts the vehicle into reverse, the camera springs to life, displaying a live feed of the area behind the vehicle (including any vehicles, pedestrians, or obstructions there) on the 2798LMT's 7-inch display. Shift out of reverse and the feed stops and navigation resumes.
In cases where the 2798LMT's camera can't be wired inline with the reverse lights, users can tap into any constant 12V power source, then toggle the camera's feed manually with the press of a button. Garmin doesn't state what sort of wireless connection it will be using to connect the camera to the display, but we're hoping that it's one that is resistant to interference.
Alongside the 2798 and its camera, Garmin also updated its Nuvi Essential Series of navigators for 2014. The new models will feature 5- and 6-inch interfaces that will automatically rotate to accommodate portrait or landscape mounting options. These entry-level Nuvis will also benefit from features trickling down from the manufacturer's Advanced Series models, including lifetime traffic avoidance on select models, School Zone Warnings, and improved destination search that is faster and easier to access.
Garmin cheekily points out that its "Essential devices come preloaded with detailed maps and don't rely on cellular reception," an obvious jab at the Web-connected smartphone navigation apps that have been steadily eroding away the portable navigator market for some time now.
The Nuvi 2014 Essential Series has suggested retail prices ranging from $129.99 to $209.99, depending on the model. The Nuvi 2798LMT with wireless backup camera has a suggested retail price of $399.99.