38 AUGUST 2018 scca.com
Rear-view-mirror based screens like this setup from
App-Tronics offer a factory look, but bright sunlight
can make it challenging to see clearly.
A Bluetooth backup camera like this setup
from Yada (BELOW and LEFT) offers an
easy plug-and-play installation, but can
be susceptible to signal interference.
WHAT TO BUY
One notable addition to this story is that we also
tested an App-Tronics $200 back-up system that
ran a hardwired camera to a monitor hidden in a
rear-view mirror. This system worked as well as the
AmeriCam setup, but we did experience reflection
issues on the rear-view mirror during bright days.
Our review of the App-Tronics setup would read
almost identically to the AmeriCam system, but
with a note about mirror reflections in high light
situations. If all monitor-in-mirror systems suffer
the same reflection issues as the App-Tronics,
we would advise against going this route.
Another thing that needs stating is that for all
aftermarket rear-view camera setups, camera
placement is key. At the same time, we also
discovered that good camera placement is difficult.
The easiest place to mount the back-up camera
is above the license plate, but in most cases with
older SUVs and trucks, the license plate sits at
bumper level – mount the camera down there and
your view becomes two dimensional, making trailer
hookup more difficult. Mounting the camera higher,
as is done by most automotive manufacturers,
offers greater depth of field for reversing and
hitching up to a trailer, but mounting the camera
that high is hard to do without unsightly external
wires and adhering the camera to paint or glass.
So which aftermarket back-up camera setup
is our choice? The in-dash, head-unit-replacing
Pioneer system is the undeniable cost-is-no-object
choice, and it’s the setup we’d have in all of our
older tow rigs should we have the money – it is
a rear-view camera and it also modernizes the
interior with options like phone integration. At
the same time, it’s hard to say the inexpensive
Bluetooth camera setup doesn’t work. Which
system is right for you? Budget will undoubtedly
determine that, but our testing revealed it’s hard
to go wrong when rear-view camera shopping.
SYSTEM: Bluetooth camera
INSTALLATION TIME: 15 minutes
with external monitor
OUR TEST UNIT: Yada digital backup
Bluetooth camera with 4.3-inch display
The Yada Bluetooth backup system
we installed on our 2003 Chevrolet
Suburban is about as low end as
complete back-up camera systems
come. We purchased this unit from
Home Depot, but you’ll find the
Yada system for sale just about
everywhere. And we know why: it’s
super easy to install and use, and
at $125 it doesn’t break the bank.
We list our installation time as
15 minutes despite the fact that
we spent 45 minutes on this. The
installation is super easy using the
supplied equipment – we just opted
to disassemble part of the dashboard
to make for a cleaner looking
installation of the 4.3-inch monitor.
Like the hardwired AmeriCam
system we used on the F250,
you use a wire off the camera to
tap into the power supplied by
the reverse lamp at the rear of
the vehicle. Unlike the AmeriCam
setup, however, the camera’s
wiring stops there. The other
portion of the wiring comes in
the vehicle – the monitor powers
itself via a 12v power adapter that
plugs into the cigarette lighter
(we chose to hardwire ours).
Once the initial Bluetooth pairing
procedure is complete, use of the
Yada is easy. When you select
reverse, the camera powers on,
Bluetooth activates, the monitor
and camera quickly pair, and the
monitor shows what’s behind
you. The monitor doesn’t turn
on as quickly as our hardwired
AmeriCam, but it’s close.
There are downsides to using
Bluetooth for the video signal. For
one, the camera is large and ugly.
Also, as we said, there is a slight
delay in the screen activation once
reverse is selected. In addition,
there’s a notable, albeit slight,
delay in the video signal should you
reverse quickly – but you shouldn’t
be reversing quickly anyway. Finally,
the monitor periodically drops the
camera signal when reversing. This
sounds like a deal breaker, but it’s
very infrequent, and we’ve even
been able to repeat the occurrence
at specific locations – our guess
is this is radio interference.
Like the AmericCam setup,
nighttime video quality is lacking.
You can see where you’re going,
but the Pioneer setup is head
and shoulders above these
other units in that regard.
We were skeptical of a wireless
back-up camera system, but
we’ve been using this Yada setup
for six months and feel it offers
great bang for the buck.