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

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Amazon’s Alexa is quickly seeping into all parts of life thanks to clever partnerships with OEMs, and Garmin was one of the most unexpected partnerships announced last year. The maker of navigation systems, dash cams, and wearables debuted the Garmin Speak at the tail-end of 2017. For $119, you get a miniature Echo Dot-like device that puts Alexa in the car with you.

At CES this year, Garmin added another device to that new family—the $199 Speak Plus. Instead of simply acting as a home for Alexa, the Speak Plus also includes an embedded dashboard camera, making it a more practical car accessory than the original Speak. While dash cams are undoubtably useful, the usefulness of Alexa in the car is debatable. Alexa rose to fame as a virtual assistant for the home, and the Garmin Speak Plus doesn’t make the strongest case for it to be a necessary part of your daily commute yet.


Specs at a glance: Garmin Speak Plus
Price $199
Dimensions 37.5 mm x 37.7 mm (1.47 x 1.48 inches)
Display 17.2 mm x 9.6 mm (0.67 x 0.37 inches),114 x 64 pixels OLED circle
Camera 82-degree FOV, shoots up to 1080p at 30fps
Mics 2 mics, beamforming technology
Built-in speaker Yes
Built-in Alexa Yes, when connected to Garmin Speak mobile app
Dash cam features Forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, accident detection (G-sensor), go alerts

The Speak Plus’ footprint is so small, it’ll easily disappear behind your rear-view mirror if you don’t position it properly. The short 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 end and a camera lens on the other. The screen shows simple direction cues like arrows and measurements that you can follow while you’re driving, but you don’t necessarily need to see the screen since Alexa reads out directions as well.

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Source:: Arstechnica – Gadgets