Garmin Speak Plus with Amazon Alexa
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
We've owned an Amazon Echo for a few years and use it almost every day. When I considered how to integrate our music, books, photos, and video, I originally wanted one solution for everything. That wasn't happening.
At first I thought I would go all in with Apple. We've been a Mac household for at least the last 15 years. I put all our music in iTunes. I stopped buying DVDs/Blu-Rays and bought everything as an iTunes movie.
But we have always bought books from Amazon. So, we decided to split our vendors into segments.
I still buy all our movies via iTunes. But now we have begun moving all our books and music over to Amazon. Amazon Music and Alexa are a fantastic combination.
I've been very patient hoping that Siri will catch up to Alexa. For me, Alexa gets it right most of the time. Siri gets it only about 60% of the time. And that is frustrating.
I was looking for an in-car solution that would allow us to use Alexa is the car, but most of the reviews have been lackluster so far. At the same time I was looking for an car based Alexa, I decided to buy a dash cam. We tow a 25' Airstream with our Ram 2500, and it is amazing how many people will jump in front of us on the expressway and slam on the brakes.
I stumbled across the Garmin Speak Plus which promises to solve both of these problems. And I have to say that in the few weeks that I've tested it - it delivers.
The Garmin Speak Plus is a multipurpose device dash cam and Alexa interface. Setup was relatively easy using the app downloaded from the app store (iTunes in my case).
The device is powered from a 12v cable that you can fish behind the trim in your car for a seamless look. In my Ram 2500, I fished it behind the headliner, down the door trim molding, behind the drivers side carpet, and out the bottom console where the plug is.
As you're driving, the dash cam records the audio, video, speed, lat/long, and date/time. The recordings are saved on an included 8gb SD card. These recordings overwrite as the card fills up, but I was pretty impressed with the quality of the recordings. I included some footage in the video above.
At least in my tests, I found Alexa to respond as well as the household version. Speech recognition was spot on. Every once in a while the road noise would affect the recognition, but was still within my limits of acceptability.
On my vehicle, the bluetooth connection got confused on my last trip. The radio was playing both my Garmin Speak requested song plus a song from my phone. This has only happened once so far. I'll update this blog if it becomes an issue.
Overall, I'm very pleased with this device. In fact, my wife has asked for one for her car.
The Garmin Speak Plus is the model I have. This has the integrated dash cam.
If you're looking for navigation and Alexa without the dash cam, there is a less expensive model available. This is the Garmin Speak (without the Plus)
Feel free to ask comments if you have any questions.