Monday, November 27, 2006

Garmin StreetPilot C320 :: review by Experience

I bought a new Garmin StreetPilot C320 gps right before my trip to Florida over the thanksgiving weekend.
Pros: It worked for most of the part.
  • The online registration to unlock the map was extra hassle I didn't expected.
  • Too much other junk in the map causing a 128M SD card hold no more than three states at a time. I was told some other brand has less than 4M a state.
  • Reception is poor. It failed to make its first round of contacts with satellites even if I placed it on the picnic table on the back deck or the front patio stairs. One time on interstate, it failed too, when there's a 16-wheeler nearby. Consider the radio still works, you'd think they should augment/supplement the signal somehow to make it work too. Otherwise, you simply can't drive in a crowded traffic and expect it to guide you.

Here is the other parts when it failed to work or could use some improvements:
  • In St Augustine Beach, FL, I was directed to turn left to Mandrid St for my destination from SR A1A South. It turned out Mandrid street was blocked by a private gate.
  • In Atlanta, GA, I was instructed to turn left in 4 miles off 285 to my house. Nothing was mentioned about a right turn (T-junction) from Ashford-Dunwoody Rd to Mt. Vernon Rd.
  • In Kissimmee, FL, I was directed to a Super Wal-Mart 3.2miles away from the resort we stayed in instead of the one 1.2 miles away. Apparently both had been there for quite few years already.
  • In St. Augustine, FL, we wanted to go to a Thai restaurant. However, the unit complained it couldn't find '4900 SR US 1". By searching 'shopping' on the unit, however, we located a Publix at '1127 SR US 1'. It has been more than one occasions when it claimed no such address can be found even though the whole FL state is loaded.
  • Driving back from Orlando, FL to Atlanta, GA, it said turn in 310 miles when we paid $2.50 at the 2nd toll plaza. I figured $2.50 is cheap for a 300-mile toll road. It turned out it failed to mention the merge from Florida turnpike to I-75 N in 27 miles.

The extra junk turned out to be very handy when we were in Orlando
  • To find a super Wal-Mart to buy a special brand of organic milk for my son, I just selected 'shopping' and spotted the first super Wal-Mart, as the list is sorted by distance from your current location. We left our laptops home on purpose even though places we stayed have free WI-FI. Without the GPS, I guess we'd have to drive around to spot one on the run. We found a CVS and a Publix the same way.
  • We had tickets for Downtown Disney. However, both the tickets and brochures don't list street address. I guess the smart Disney writers assumed everybody know where it is ?! The unit listed it under 'theme parks' as 'Disney Quest'. That solved our problem pretty easily.
All in all, it eliminated quite some headache for my wife and me.

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