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Garmin Speak Plus review: Alexa is just a pacifist road-trip buddy

Amazon’s Alexa is fast seeping into all tools of life interjection to crafty partnerships with OEMs, and Garmin was one of the many unexpected partnerships announced last year. The builder of navigation systems, lurch cams, and wearables debuted the Garmin Speak at the tail-end of 2017. For $119, you get a tiny Echo Dot-like device that puts Alexa in the vehicle with you.

At CES this year, Garmin combined another device to that new family—the $199 Speak Plus. Instead of simply behaving as a home for Alexa, the Speak Plus also includes an embedded dashboard camera, making it a some-more unsentimental vehicle appendage than the strange Speak. While lurch cams are undoubtably useful, the utility of Alexa in the vehicle is debatable. Alexa rose to celebrity as a virtual partner for the home, and the Garmin Speak Plus doesn’t make the strongest case for it to be a required partial of your daily invert yet.


The Speak Plus’ footprint is so small, it’ll simply disappear behind your rear-view counterpart if you don’t position it properly. The brief cylinder measures 1.47 x 1.48 inches and has a 114 x 64-pixel OLED screen surrounded by an LED light ring on one finish and a camera lens on the other. The screen shows elementary instruction cues like arrows and measurements that you can follow while you’re driving, but you don’t indispensably need to see the screen given Alexa reads out directions as well.

Only two buttons accoutre the side of the Speak Plus: one to tongue-tied the microphone and one to energy on the device. The underside of the device binds a microSD label container that can take a label up to 64GB. The section we reviewed came with an 8GB card. The incomparable the microSD card, the some-more footage you can store at once. But the Speak Plus supports loop recording, so you never have to worry about the microSD label being full. The device will erase the oldest footage first once the label gets filled up. Like Garmin’s other lurch cams, you can perspective the footage using the company’s VIRB mobile app (designed for its movement cams) or you can mislay the microSD label and insert it into your PC.


Attaching the Speak Plus to your windshield is easy: it uses a captivating arm with an glue pad that sticks to the glass. we prefer suction mounts to adhesives since they let you some-more simply pierce the lurch cam to another spot. Garmin doesn’t yield additional glue pads either, so you must select the Plus’ plcae wisely.

The Speak Plus’ camera is the only differentiator between this device and the unchanging Speak, but it’s an critical eminence that adds a lot of value. Sure, having Alexa as a vehicle messenger is good for hands-free music playback controls and answers to pardonable questions about the forecast. But Amazon has finished it so many smartphone users can entrance Alexa from anywhere by several mobile apps—therefore, the hands-free aspect of the unchanging Speak is the only reason you’d wish to deposit in that device. At slightest with the Speak Plus, you get an ever-watchful lurch cam in further to Alexa.

Alexa integration

While a series of vehicle manufacturers are building Alexa into their vehicles, copiousness of Alexa-less cars will still be on the highway in the future. In those cases, the Garmin Speak Plus is one of the few ways you can get Alexa into the car. Most things Alexa can do in an Echo device can be finished in the Garmin Speak Plus: review the news, check the weather, answer pointless questions, control smart home devices, and more. With the new Garmin ability enabled, Alexa can also review turn-by-turn pushing directions by the Speak Plus.

However, Alexa doesn’t totally live inside the Speak Plus. Garmin’s Speak app is indispensable to set up the device, and it tells you during the initial setup that the program must be using on your smartphone for any of your Alexa commands to be over on the Speak Plus. While it’s the lurch cam that hears you, all the information is drawn from your smartphone since Alexa requires a tie (Wi-Fi at home in a device like an Echo, mobile on the highway in this case) to work.

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