Garmin has announced a refreshed version of the Alexa powered GPS gadget they released last year. The new Garmin Speak Plus provides the same access to Alexa in your car, making it essentially a tiny Echo Dot for your dash, as well as the same navigation features as the original Garmin Speak. What the new model adds is a dash cam built into the device which does a lot more than simply record video of your drive, such as providing forward collision and lane departure warnings.
The original Garmin Speak seems like a good product, but it probably didn’t do enough to appeal to many people and justify its $149.99 price. Its primary features are to provide access to hands-free Alexa in the car and both visual and audible turn by turn navigation. Most people probably already have navigation in their car or simply use their phone, and there are less expensive ways to get Alexa in your car, like the Muse or even just using an Echo Dot connected to a phone’s WiFi hotspot.
The new Garmin Speak Plus, while it does increase its asking price to $229.99 (but is available to pre-order for $199.99 right now), it at least adds a few more useful features, thanks to the camera on the back. As you’d expect, the Speak Plus’ dash cam will record videos of your drive. It saves the footage when an incident is detected and discards the rest. It’s unclear if the footage is saved onboard the device or on your phone via the required app.
The camera is also used to monitor road conditions and can give you collision warnings if it detects that you may be at risk of hitting the car ahead of you. It’s clearly not as good as similar systems in modern cars that can actually apply the brakes, but the warning could give you the extra second you need to stop your car in time if you’re distracted.
The Garmin Speak Plus also monitors road lanes and will warn you if you drift off road or cross into an adjacent lane. While stopped at an intersection or in traffic, it also uses the camera to detect when traffic begins to move again and provides “Go” alerts if you’re not paying attention.
Alexa is probably still the big selling feature of the new Garmin Speak Plus, but having several additional extra features all built into such a tiny device makes the price easier to justify. It’s available to pre-order now for $30 off its retail price and will begin shipping on February 10th.