Cigar Aficionado

VR3 Wireless Back-up Camera

Sleek and muscular-looking, the high rear deck is a ubiquitous design feature on many of today's best cars. But styling and aerodynamic advantages notwithstanding, that look has one major problem: it keeps most everything under four feet tall and close to the bumper from appearing in the rearview mirror. Resulting drawbacks are fairly obvious: peril to any little people, motorcycles, shrubbery or Belgian-block short-rise walls that might be in your way, not to mention damage to your expensive car.

Yes, technology and the automotive industry have colluded to offer such new light as the backup camera for a few years now. However, even that solution has its shortcomings. What if you bought your car before the device was a factory-installed option or neglected to take advantage of the technology only later to discover its advantages? Or simply balked at the expense? (Not only does such a camera cost several hundred dollars, but it is usually offered only with other equipment packages that add several thousand to the sticker price.) Enter the VR3 Wireless Back-up Camera System, an affordable package that can be retrofitted to most any car (even your precious classic) with very little trouble or expense ($149).

The camera mounts to the screw holes in your license plate to minimize the footprint it leaves. You route a cable through the trunk to the car's backup lights as a power source. Now the camera throws a signal to the 2.5-inch LCD color display, which mounts on your dashboard or hides on the upside of your visor. You can hardwire the monitor to your fuse box or simply plug it into a cigarette-lighter socket.

The camera provides 110-degree horizontal and 80-degree vertical viewing angles. The monitor has a four-angle viewing switch, which means that you can adjust the picture from normal forward image to mirror image to forward upside down to mirror upside down, to correspond to what you see in your rearview mirror, depending on how you've mounted the monitor.

The VR3 camera may not be a sexy toy or tech fashion accessory like your Xbox or the Bluetooth transceiver that grows out of your ear, but it can save you a lot of heartache.