Compatible with optional Garmin MapSource software for downloading maps and waypoint data
Great product, but you may have different expectations...
This is by far the best GPS I have ever used. The only thing I would caution is how fast this GPS does its recalculation. Here are some examples:
1. I programmed the destination information for my wife to travel from my friend's house, she jumped into the car and was ready to go. The GPS showed that it was ready to navigate, but for first 15 seconds of driving, it was actually computing the route, and was really not ready to navigate. At the end of the first 15 seconds, my wife was lost already. She had to stop and wait for the GPS to re-calculate the route.
2. It told me to turn left onto another street, I was at the right-most left turn lanes (out of the 3) ready to turn left, it interpreted as I was ready to turn right and started the re-calculation, it quickly corrected itself. But was confusing enough.
3. As one of the users mentioned, it took about 5 seconds to re-calculate, and a lot of things can happen in that 5 seconds, and you may have already missed the re-calculated route.
I don't think other GPS can perform as well, but you really need to have a realistic expectations.
Directionally Challenged Rejoice
First, your reaction to the price: If you have been considering $2,000 (and up) factory-installed GPS systems, this device will look like a steal. If, however, you are used to simple hiking-and-biking GPS devices, it may seem weirdly expensive. Which camp you fall into explains your view.
Factory-installed units usually have bigger screens and don't intrude on your personal space or need to be plugged in. However, they can't be swapped between cars or taken on trips for use in rental cars. At the low end, there are many cheaper GPS units more suitable for the outdoorsman. This is as an in-car GPS and other missions are pretty compromised by its battery drain, size, and weight.
Test-driving this device for the first time on a commute or a trip to the grocery store, the suggested route may seem odd, crossing and then rejoining a street for no apparent reason, but it can also find shortcuts even in areas you know well. The real value, however, is in driving in unfamiliar territory, where getting lost could cost time, gas, patience, and may even be dangerous.
A WORD ABOUT SPEED
Some people have found this GPS slow to calculate routes, but I think their expectations are the problem, not the hardware. Unlike a calculator that gives you the right answer in the blink of an eye, this unit is more like a chess computer. It seeks the best route (e.g. fastest time, shortest distance) among perhaps thousands of possible solutions for getting from Point A to point B. Deep Blue took some time to beat the best chess player in the world, but nobody calls it slow.
What does processing time mean for the average driver? Well, when you take a wrong turn or miss a suggested exit, it announces: "Off route; re-calculating." If you do something unexpected a second time or third time while it's number-crunching, it may re-calculate again. At such times, you may become frustrated that it can't "keep up" with the split-second decisions you must sometimes make in traffic. Nine times out of ten, though, you'll probably prefer the tradeoff its designers opted for.
The voice prompts are clear and sound more human than robotic. You can adjust the volume (once you learn how - it isn't intuitive), which is helpful especially if you have passengers who won't shut up. These prompts also let you keep your eyes on the road.
The color screen is large and attractive in a somewhat soft-focus way (the way Barbara Walters is filmed these days), which seems easier on the eyes. It calculates what time the sun sets and can automatically go into night mode (more black background) so your eyes can adjust to the lower light outside.
You can zoom in or out on a map to see as much detail as you need. This lets you strike a balance between over-frequent screen refreshing (if you're driving 65 and zoomed way in, for example), and seeing where you are relative to certain highways or exits, which you might want to zoom out a bit to see.
It can tell you to keep left or right, which is useful on multi-lane highways, especially since this can keep you from getting needlessly into exit-only lanes or from having to cross several lanes because you don't know if it's a right or left exit coming up.
Lest you think this is a complete rave review, there are a few shortcomings.
As hinted at earlier, battery life is fair-to-terrible, depending mostly on how bright you want the screen. If you use the power adapter and have the battery power as backup, this shouldn't be a problem.
Unless you enter a correct street number, meaning one that exists in its database, the device will not calculate a route. Sometimes you just want to find Street Z in Random Town and you have no clue about the number of your destination. It doesn't like that and won't compute, which can be frustrating.
You will notice from pictures that there are not many keys cluttering up the front of the device. This was a sound choice from a safety and design standpoint, but it means that you have to flip between screens and scroll to enter addresses, zipping through numbers and letters and entering each -- much the way you might enter your name or initials on an arcade game. It assumes a certain degree of patience and willingness to learn. If your directionally challenged spouse has not yet entered the computer age, this may be more technology than she (or he) is ready for.
Because of some minor quibbles, I'd give it 4 ½ stars, but will round that up to 5 because it offers such good value compared to factory-installed in-dash units. Unless the extra money is a huge issue, or unless you rarely travel far from home, spring for the deluxe version and save the headache of buying additional maps, upgrading memory, etc.
My mother is 70 years old and still drives very well and wants to stay independent as long as possible. She was starting to be fearful of getting lost while driving so I purchased this product to see if it would help her remain confident in her car. As a test, I took a vacation with her in Canada and brought this gem along. Wow! Unbeliveable that a product can make such a positive impact on a vacation. It located our rental car exactly and maintained proper direction and satillite communication even in between tall buildings. Everyplace we wanted to visit was easy to find and route, making our vacation much more enjoyable than constantly searching maps and straining to read tiny writing. Driving in an unfamiliar city with this GPS becomes a pleasure as you always know you are going in the right direction and will get to your intended destination. During our seven days in Canada, my 70 year old mother mastered it's very easy to use functions. She now uses it everyday at home and takes it on all of her vacations. Very few products can impact a person's everyday life. This one does. If you know anyone who gets lost easy or just needs a little help staying on course, I highly recommend buying this GPS for them. A truly great product.