Garmin Nuvi 350 Reviews

Expensive, But Fabulous:

After trying both Garmin's i3 and c340 GPS units, this is the one I'm keeping. Simply wonderful.

It has all the characteristics that I was looking for:

1) VERY compact — easily able to fit in a breast pocket
2) Text-to-Speech — announces proper street names, not just "turn left in 500 feet"; radically reduces how much you need to look at the screen to figure out the real instructions; wouldn't own a GPS unit wihtout this
3) Bright Screen — readable in virtually every situation

AND

Faster location of the GPS satellites. This turns out to be quite important in day-to-day use. In the other systems, it wasn't unusual that we could be driving for a couple minutes before it located the satellites and could give us directions. With this unit, the satellites are located almost as quickly as the unit fully starts up.

One comment on how we use this: We don't mount it on the dash board or on the window (which is technically illegal here in California). Instead we just lay this on the center console in our van or car. The antenna system is plenty sensitive to work just like this and we've never lost the satellite signals except in tunnels.

We also like all the potential of the traveling features (clock, calculator, etc.), but this is the one to own even if you just use it for the basic GPS features.

Very impressed.

[July 2006 Update]
How Its Ease-of-Use Enhanced Our Vacation: We were recently on a vacation combined with a business conference. While I was at the conference, my family had the confidence to explore the city without ever getting lost. Even our kids were able to help enter addreses and find locations.

Factoring In Added Cost: Just a warning about upgrade costs. Although Garmin does a good job of releasing updates to their system software that either fixes bugs or adds enhancements, the cost to update the built-in maps is extra. And they issue updates about once a year.

Source: Amazon


Very Nice GPS:

After extensive research, I decided to buy either the Garmin 2720 or the Nuvi 350. I wanted reliable maps, ease of use, future real-time traffic expandibility. I decided on the Nuvi because the sensitivity of the GPS antennas is much better in urban environments and the small pocket-sized shape. I have now owned the unit for 2 months and used it extensively. Here are my observations:

1. The antenna sensitivity is outstanding. As a test, the first time I got it, I had the unit "find itself" from within my 2 story house. I was on the first floor and not near a window. While I took a shower, it figured out where it was. In the car, it usually finds itself within 5 seconds. The tangible benefit of this sensitivity is that I don't have to mount the Nuvi on my car dash or window. It just sits on the center console of the car.

2. The maps are very good. So far, it's found every place I searched including little local resturants. The time to calculate (or re-route) based on these maps is very good. I have been able to use the unit straight out of the box without any updates to the software or the maps.

3. The readability of the screen is very good. Even in bright daylight, the screen can be easily read.

4. The speaker on the unit does the job but should be improved. At the higher volume settings the sound is tinny and the cheap little speaker just isn't as clear as it should be. I'm not trying to compare to built-in GPS units from manufacturers like Honda but for $900 the speaker should be better.

5. The internal battery seems to last about 3 1/2 hours with the screen on full brightness. Seems reasonable considering the manufacturer says the battery should last about 4 to 6 hours and we all know how manufacturers over state battery life.

6. The Li-Ion battery is sealed in the unit and can't be replaced by the owner. I don't like this at all. Since this product is reasonably new, there is no detail on how much the battery replacement service would cost. I expect we will get taken to town like Apple with their iPod battery replacements. However, Li-Ion batteries are well regarded so the they should last about 1 1/2 years. We'll see. If anyone from Garmin reads this: Don't do it again. It's not good. Convince your design team that a battery cover with a screw isn't going to take away from the coolness of the product.

7. The software has worked fine. One time it came up with a better route and asked if I wanted to take the new route. However, it didn't say how much shorter or faster the new route would be so I could make an informed decision. Minor detail but if you want me to make a decision, give me some relevant information.

8. The product comes with a quick start guide which is all you really need. There is a product manual but it doesn't get shipped. You can get the pdf from Garmin's web site for free. At $900, I would have expected a paper manual in the box. If you want the paper manual, it's around $10 from Garmin.

9. It comes with the capability to play mp3s and audio books. With the built-in speaker, that is a painful experience. Better to hook-up headphones.

10. One feature that it doesn't have compared to other top-end GPS units is the ability to tell current position in Longitude/Latitude. Minor and not needed but what's the harm? After all there is a screen showing 12 satellite signal strengths and your current elevation.

Overall, I think this has been a good decision. Maybe some of the software issues will be fixed in the future. It is expensive but tangibly better than other GPS units on the market at this time.

Source: Amazon


Garmin Nuvi 350:

The Garmin Nuvi 350 has become one of best selling GPS devices in the world, and for good reason. It offers what most people are looking for in a first time GPS purchase; a pocketable device which is easy to operate and doesn’t have too many advanced features they will likely never use. But, one GPS device doesn’t fit all, the Nuvi 350 lacks many navigation functions found in other GPS devices you might be interested in. Is this Nuvi right for you?

Hardware

In terms of the physical design, Garmin just about nailed this one perfectly. Along the top of the device is the power button providing easy access when mounted on your dash. Along the right side is the SD card slot, USB/power connector, and an audio jack for headphones. Thankfully, no buttons were placed along the bottom since that area is out of reach when mounted in a vehicle.

The Nuvi 350 comes with a “flip-up” antenna. I’ve never really understood Garmin’s reasoning for doing this and I’m glad that the new 200 series dropped this antenna style. The GPS chipset inside the “flip-up” antenna is the legendary SiRFstarIII chipset. So you should have no trouble getting a quick signal, and one that will stay locked on even in areas where older GPS devices might have found challenging.

You will also find that the Nuvi 350 is very light and compact. It weighs just over five ounces making it one of the lightest GPS devices in its class and is less than one inch thick. Within this frame Garmin put in the fairly industry standard 3.5 inch display which can show 320×240 pixels. The screen is of very high quality and works well in bright sunlight and from a wide viewing angle. If you are extremely tough on devices, the frame on this Nuvi does flex a little bit more than other similar devices, however I’ve never heard of that actually becoming an issue for anyone.

The mount is hands down the best mount in the industry. It is not ridiculously large like some other mounts, it is easily adjustable, and there is a quick release button along the bottom of the mount. To top it off, the power connector connects to the mount itself which feeds power to the GPS, therefore you don’t have a power cable dangling loose when you take your GPS out of the car. I’ll say it again, this is the best mount in the industry.

Navigating to an Address

What makes this GPS a hot seller is largely due to how simple Garmin makes the initial presentation on the device. A simple menu saying “Where to?” is all you need to get started. This resonates with many people and makes it a device I recommend to people who are less technically savvy. After clicking Where to you can navigate to an address, any number of POI categories, your stored (favorite) locations, intersections, coordinates, or specific places on the map. Typically you might select an address.

After selecting address, you are asked what state your address is in. Here, you type in the name of the state you want to go to, or it will also display your current state as a “quick pick” option. Typing in the name of the state seems like a huge pain. You can’t even type in an official state abbreviation, instead you must type in the whole state name. This can be a pain when you want to go to somewhere like New York where you must type in N-E-W-space-Y before you can select New York. It should know what I mean if I type NY.

After typing in the State, you type in a city. Following the city is the house number. This has always seemed backwards to me. While at first the Nuvi 350 seems to be drilling down from the biggest target (states) to smaller targets (cities) the Nuvi asks you for the street number before typing in the street name. No biggie, but it did catch me off guard the first few times. After selecting the street number, then you select the street. You can then see what result it found from your search and then either click the Go button to be routed to that location, view the address on the map, or save it to your favorite locations.

Navigating to a Point of Interest

Navigating to a POI is equally simple. After clicking “Where to” you can select from a list of categories. The categories seem be sorted by how frequently you might use that category, but I’m not entirely sure. For example “Auto Services” is near the very bottom of the list. But up top center I found “food”. Then you can select from a list of types of food and the GPS will search for a list of restaurants in the category of food you are looking for. The list is sorted by how close each location is to you. Selecting one of the POIs will show the street address and phone number of the location. Just like after finding an address you can either click the Go button to be routed there, save the location to your favorites, or show the location on the map.

Driving

While navigating text will be displayed across the top of the screen telling you your current/next instruction like “Main Street to I-95″ if you are currently driving on main street and your next turn is onto I-95. What I don’t like is that in many cases there is no indication of which direction your next turn is directly on this screen if you forget what the voice said. Instead near the lower right is a field for “turn in” which tells you how far away your next turn is. Clicking on this will show a picture of the intersection along with an arrow indicating where you travel through the intersection. The information is available, but it is a click away.

Along the lower left side of the screen is a field for your estimated arrival time. I’ve found it to be very optimistic, even in areas of no traffic. Also missing is a field to tell you how long (in time) you have left to get your destination. You can take the arrival time and subtract that from the current time, but doing time based math while in traffic is more than I can handle. So when the kids are in the back of the car saying “Are we there yet?” you can tell them that you are 43 miles from your destination (if you click to go to another screen) or you can tell them you will arrive at 8:43 pm…. But neither of those answers may answer the question they are looking for. Again, this is a minor gripe, but I’ve had several people coming to me wondering where to find “time to turn” and “time to destination” information on their screen. Most people can estimate time better than distance.

Advanced Planning

The point of the Garmin Nuvi 350 is simplicity… and simplicity was delivered. However this leaves out many routing features that are available in other GPS devices of the same class. There is no “advanced planning” type feature. For example if you are going on a trip and want to know how long it will take you to get from your destination airport to the hotel, that information is difficult to get out of the Nuvi 350. There is a workaround involving turning the GPS antenna off, going to the map, zooming way out, finding your starting location on the map, zooming back in, clicking the set location button, then going to the menu, navigating to an address, clicking go, and then viewing the arrival time (doing the math yourself to see how long it will take you to get there based on the current time) and/or going to the trip information screen to view the distance to the destination…..but that workaround is probably more trouble than it is worth.

Detours

There is a detour feature on the Nuvi 350. While driving if you come across a blocked road you can click menu and then select the ‘Detour’ button. This will create a route around the next section of the road. But again, Garmin has gone for simplicity here. Other devices typically allow you to select either an estimated distance ahead of you that the road is blocked, or allow specific road or intersection to be avoided. Those customizations are not available on this GPS.

Multiple Destination Routing

Another feature many people ask us about is multiple destination routing. People who make deliveries or are sales reps and drive to several locations in one day typically ask this for. What these people are looking for is a way to build up one route with all of their destinations. Then they can see how long the entire route will take. The Nuvi 350 allows for one “via” point per route. In other words you can say “I want to go to destination A and to get there I want the GPS to take me via point B”. However you can only add one via point per route. Most people might not need this feature, but it can be really handy to have depending on the type of driving you do.

Voice Quality

The Nuvi 350 has text to speech, this means that it will speak the names of streets as part of the voice prompting when giving directions. It is also one of the fewer entry level GPS devices which incorporates this feature. The voice quality itself isn’t quite as good as other devices in its class which don’t use text-to-speech, but it is a very acceptable quality and I didn’t have too much trouble understanding what the voice was telling me to do. There are multiple voices to choose from. The volume is also acceptably loud. When cranked all of the way up, the volume is still an acceptable quality at highway speeds.

Extras

Speaking of sound, the Nuvi 350 will also play MP3 files and audio books. The external speaker won’t replace any of your other audio devices anytime soon, but if you occasionally want to plug in headphones you will find it an acceptable MP3 player. You will have about 700 MB of free space to work with.

It is also worth mentioning that there are a few other applications which come along with their “Travel Kit”. You get a picture viewer, world clock, calculator, as well as a currency and unit converter. Those features probably won’t tip the scales one way or another in your choice of a
GPS device

Nuvi 350 Purchasing Advice

As mentioned at the top, the Garmin Nuvi 350 is one of the best selling GPS devices out there, mostly due to the simplicity of the design. If you are looking for your first GPS device and want something extremely simple to use, the Nuvi 350 should be on your list of devices to consider. If your navigation needs are a little more sophisticated, you might want to consider a device with more routing features such as a TomTom ONE or the Harman Kardon GPS 500. But if you are looking for a dead simple GPS device with text-to-speech and without all of the “extras”, take a hard look at the Nuvi 350.

Source: GPSreview


Garmin Nuvi 350:

Strengths: Bright,good sound,memory for complete USA maps,memory card slot,AC and DC adapter,suction cup mount,fast recalculations, good signal pick-up,touch screen works well.

Weaknesses: Price,Does not accept compact Flash Type I memory card, cannot purchase or install maps for use on water or bike paths,no bicycle mount (not water proof),USA maps outdated,no record of altitude change.

Summary: This is my first GPS. It is an amazing invention. It is hard to believe so much information is available to you in such a small package. I paid $534.99 with tax in Feb 2007. I wanted GPS I could use in car, boat and on bicycle with sufficient memory to load full set of USA maps and with touch screen. I liked many features of the Quest but insufficient memory, no memory card capability, and no touchscreen. Nuvi's rechargeable battery has relatively short 4 hour life for bicycling. I went to Charlotte, by car, and it took me right to my destination with great ease. Ovens Auditorium was not listed in Nuvi database. When I needed to depart Charlotte after dark to a new destination, it was so nice to have my GPS talk me to where I needed to go. No maps. No magnifying glass. I like the ability to find food, entertainment, etc. wherever you are located. US 421 to Wilkesboro,NC was upgraded to four lanes 2 years ago but the GPS still tells you to exit and reenter at former construction locations where there are now no exit or entry ramps. Touch screen is easy to use. I notice it is easy to mess up destination when inserting Nuvi on its windshield suction cup mount. I don't know how this is happening but it has occurred two or three times and I notice my arrival time is way off from its original time. I stop the car, stop the mapping, reselect my destination and hit the go button to restart the GPS. Fat fingers can cause you to hit the wrong selection on the screen. I purchased remote antenna but have not needed it so far. I can't imagine using the books on tape read-out feature. I haven't tried the travel guides other than the ones that come built in. You do get an altitude read out for a single location but not over a distance. My only buyer remorse is having paid so much. But, now that I have it, I really like it. I would like updated maps that include new roads and streets. I live on a street that was constructed 5 years ago but it does not show on the GPS. I like the way it alerts you to upcoming turns. Sometimes (in heavy, fast moving traffic at intersecting highways) it needs to tell you a little sooner to stay left or right.

Source: PriceGrabber


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