At the end of my review of the Garmin Varia RTL515 Radar/Light unit, I lamented that Garmin didn’t combine a camera with the unit, given their expertise with VIRB action cameras. Now Garmin has released the Varia RCT715, which does exactly this. This is a quick review based on what I’ve gleaned from Garmin and other sites about the unit. I haven’t got my hands on one of these yet, and I’ll update this once (if) I do.
The unit’s quite a bit fatter than the RTL515 and about twice the weight. It has the same light options as the original and the camera can be set to record at all times, or only when a car is approaching. It can also detect an incident and save footage into a ‘locked’ area.
As far as the radar functionality goes, it’s pretty much the same as the previous Varia units. The head-unit functionality appears to be pretty much the same, with the addition of camera functions. The camera records up to 1080p resolution, but doesn’t have stabilisation. It appears to be based on Garmin’s dash cam hardware, rather than the long-discontinued VIRB models.
However, based on the reviews I’ve seen, the unit is let down by the phone app used to retrieve the video footage off the device. It’s reportedly slow to download, and unreliable connecting via WiFi. I’d expect that you can retrieve the footage directly from the Micro-SD card in the unit, but it’s not exactly try convenient to remove it each time. You can also retrieve the footage using the USB connection (USB-C at last!), but it’s pretty slow. I won’t regurgitate the details here, just have a look at DCRainmaker’s review, linked to below.
Will I buy one? I might, if the phone app improves, although I’ll probably stick to my philosophy of never buying the first version of anything, after a bad experience with an Apple product a long time ago!