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Magellan Back Up Camera

The Magellan Back Up Camera is a decent camera for ensuring your safety and others while backing up with an easy to install partially wireless system but the camera is not night capable.

Ease of Use, Performance: 13/25
Look & Feel: 16/25
Features 16/25
How much I enjoy 16/25

Total: 61/100

Magellan Back Up Camera

The Magellan Back Up Camera is a backup camera system that uses a transmitter and receiver to make installation into your vehicle easy. The Back Up Camera system uses a color camera and your Magellan GPS Navigator to give you a rear view while backing up automatically for safety.

The Magellan Back Up Camera comes with the camera on a mounting bar, transmitter, receiver, automotive power cable, instructions, adapter for RoadMate 1700 and connectors. The Magellan Back Up Camera is a handy and easy to install system as long as you have an understanding of electricity and are handy with tools in a car.

The Magellan Back Up Camera, product number CPBCKUSGXXX, works with models 1700, 9055 and 9165 RoadMate GPS Navigators because these models have the audio and video input. The backup camera includes a transmitter and receiver unit so you don’t have to run wires throughout your vehicle during installation.

You do need to run wires from the license plate mounted camera to the reverse or backup light wires as well as the wires from the receiver unit to your GPS Navigator. The Magellan Back Up Camera does not have wires running from the back of the car to the front but uses a transmitter and receiver to get the view from camera to your GPS unit.

Whats in the Box

The wires going to the camera are a couple feet long and allow enough wiring to get the camera to the transmitter unit which installs somewhere in the back of your vehicle. The transmitter also has wires that go from the small transmitter box to the reverse light wires in your vehicle.

The camera itself is mounted on a bar that is spaced to fit most vehicle license plate holders and rotates up and down by about 45 degrees with a 100 by 120 degree field of view. The camera uses a color CMOS sensor and has a 640x480 resolution but does not have any infrared capabilities.

The system requires you to cut into and splice wires on your vehicles reverse lights so when the vehicle is put into reverse the camera automatically is viewable on the Magellan GPS unit.
You can perform this installation yourself if you’re familiar with vehicle wiring and removal of interior panels but you can also take your vehicle to an installation professional like Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

If you search your local dealerships and GPS installation services you should be able to find a reputable place to install a vehicle GPS unit and a backup camera. Installation for me was pretty simple but the camera itself proved to not be up to the task of night vision.

Magellan Back Up Camera in Use

I want to make this clear that this system would be great if they had used a better camera that included night vision, the camera only works for daytime use. The Magellan Back Up Camera is not for night use but works very well with a clear full color view just like a good webcam.

The cameras resolution is good with a large enough screen and view for backing up either short distances like out of the drive or full block long drives like in large lots. I have no problems seeing and backing up along a long side street or on my 100 foot driveway.  

The camera gives good side views along the main rear view so you can see things coming toward your rear but this depends on how far behind and to the side of your vehicle things are. The camera does have great color and very good clear vision for your rear view, good enough to read license plates on other vehicles but they are backwards.

The view you are seeing is a mirror image, this is common for backup cameras so everything is kind of backwards but it works well so everything is correct when looking forward. This allows the actual left and right of the camera view to correspond correctly with the driver’s right and left.

Magellan Back Up Cam w/ Room Lights & Low Light

As I said before the camera works well in daylight but at night it is useless, the camera does not see at all in the dark but it does work well in daylight. I did a little comparison with a camera I bought for another project that is sold as a backup camera that cost me $18.99.

I did not modify the camera and used it in comparison to the Magellan Back Up Camera to see how they compared for daylight and low light uses. My comparison pictures show the Magellan Back Up Camera has better color and a clear image when using the lights on in my office.

The lower light in my office with the lights out and door closed shows the difference clearly which is exactly like driving at night without any street lights. The $20 infrared camera I bought has a lesser quality color view but the low light of my office is clearly visible and useable for driving.

At night the Magellan Back Up Camera is only useable in brightly lit parking lots but on regular streets there is not enough light. I cannot use the camera to back up in my driveway as there is just not enough light so this is not that great a camera for use at night.

$20 Cam Room Lights & Low Light

The Magellan Back Up Camera is pretty easy to install but you have to know about the vehicle you are installing it in and about electricity. The camera does require cutting wires or at least cutting the insulation off so you can splice the wires into your reverse back up lights.

The kit does come with some splices but these are almost worthless, I had a hard time trying to get them to clamp onto the wire and skipped using them. I have tried to use these types of wire splices in the past and also had no luck with getting a secure splice from similar automotive splices.

If your handy with wiring you can simply cut and crimp the wires or solder them to get the wiring correct, running the wires will take some effort as well. You will need to remove some panels from your vehicle depending on make and model but this should not be that difficult if you’re familiar with your vehicle and repairing it.

You can find an installer if you need to as this kit does require some electrical work which can be dangerous if you’re not familiar with safety and electricity. This should be done by a qualified shop that installs GPS units into cars and not just any auto repair service station.

While having the backup camera is great for getting in and out of parking lots, parallel parking and other situations I really wish Magellan had chosen a camera with infrared capabilities. If they would upgrade this kit to a night vision camera my recommendation would be an easy one but as it is I would prefer to go with a system that does include night vision.

Sorry, Magellan but this is not going to be a recommended product even though the camera and kit was easy for me to install, performance is just not there. I am going to continue to look for a decent back up camera that works round the clock and is as easy to install as this one was.

While the Magellan Back Up Camera was easy to install the camera does not see enough in the dark to make it a useful night vision back up camera but it does work well in the daytime.

Back Up Camera @ Magellan