The Garmin babyCam strives to answer the age old questions of every parent who installed their kids in the rear (of the car, on their back, etc.): What is going on back there? Is baby sleeping?
Garmin’s babyCam aims to provide the answer. Yep, this is a first—an in-vehicle baby monitor that works with a GPS unit to help you keep on eye a rear-facing child. A camera mounts to your rear seat headrest and works off of two AA-batteries to stream video on-demand to the GPS unit. The camera’s night vision lets you see baby at night without any additional interior lighting. Garmin has dropped the price from $350 when it first debuted down to $154 for a bundle of the camera plus GPS unit.
The Garmin babyCam is an intriguing concept, but one wonders if it is about five or ten years too late to market. The GPS on most smartphones equals or exceeds Garmin’s dedicated GPS unit performance-wise (in our opinion). And most newer cars today come equipped with in-vehicle navi systems, although, admittedly these systems can be frustrating to use.
And then there is a safety issue—having a baby in a vehicle is already a distraction for the solo driver, even before you put a screen on the dash showing every coo and ahh. To address the safety issue, Garmin limits the time you see baby to 10, 20 or 30 seconds (user-selected) . . . after which point, the GPS reverts back to the map. You have to hit a button on the GPS screen to toggle between the map and baby view.
And be forewarned: having a dash-mounted video screen is illegal in many states, so you risk a ticket with a Garmin babyCam (Garmin helpfully points out that out on their web site with this warning: Notice: Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit use of this camera device. It is your responsibility to know and comply with applicable laws and rights to privacy in jurisdictions where you plan to use this device.) Heck, even having a dash-mounted GPS unit is illegal in two dozen states (see here for a state-by-state breakdown of such laws).
Parent feedback on this monitor has been thin. The few reports and reviews we’ve seen say the unit is easy to install, thanks to a bracket that attaches to the rear-seat headrest; on the other hand, parents complained that they had trouble connecting the camera to the display at times.
Bottom line: we’re not sure we see the point of this monitor. Unless you live a city with long commutes, we’re not sure the benefit of a sneak peak of your baby in the backseat outweighs the $350 price. After all, a simple $28 mirror will basically accomplish the same thing as a Garmin babyCam. Rating: C-