Review: Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS
Scoble (BTW, thanks for the mention) asks Do GPS's work for you? Heck ya.
I love me some GPS. We did an article on hooking up to the Streets and Trips (Pharos) GPS with .NET based on EdJez and Kzu's original code.
I talked about GPS's and Geotagging in a podcast earlier this year after Patrick Cauldwell, a geocaching phenom, got me thinking about getting involved in geocaching as a hobby. Portland, where I am, is near where the very first geocache was placed - it's huge here in Oregon.
Once you're GPS-enabled, everything gets more interesting. Photos gain a new dimension if you GPS-tag them.
I researched the crap out of GPSs. The TomTom GO 910 is well thought of, particularly in Europe. It's got a 20gig hard drive with the USA, Canada and Europe installed. It's meant to be installed in your car(s) - not carried around. It's rather thick, bigger that I wanted. I also couldn't find it for less than about $790.
The Garmin Nuvi is similar to the Tom Tom. However, it's thin. It's about the size and thickness of a deck of cards, except about an extra .5" tall. it's quite thin, and the antenna (the foldy thing in the picture) folds flush. No attachments, no wires except power. It has an internal lithium battery. It pops right off the suction mount using the button at the bottom.
Like the Tom Tom it also plays MP3s, shows JPEGs, and hooks up directly to Audible. The Audible feature is nicely integrated - it will pause the book for a moment, speak the directions, then start up again having backed up a few seconds so you don't lose your place.
It also supports waypoints and POIs (Points of Interest) from 3rd party providers. Great for preparing a geocaching trip. (There's also lists of Red-Light Cameras you can load in) You tell it if you're in a car or walking (or in a cab, etc) and it gives directions based on that info. The Windows software is pretty sweet too. The Nuvi has an SD Card slot (same as my camera, yay!) and also shows up as a disk drive when plugged in using a standard USB cable. The software automatically updates the firmware and maps over the net when it's connected.
It also has a nice two-way language translator available and comes with sample data. You select/build sentences by filling in nouns and verbs on the touch screen for common questions: Where is the _____? and it translates and speaks the translation. Slick.
Let me say the TTS (Text to Speech) voices are great. There's many to choose from. I use the Australian chick, she sounds the most natural. The Nuvi speaks the street names, you'll hear "Turn left on Murray Road..." and let me tell you, it makes a difference versus "TURN! Now!"
Here's some reviews of the Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS.
- CNET User Reviews - "The Garmin Nuvi 350 is a Work of Art!"
- RPV Blogster - "I would rank it at the top 1% of the most useful gadget I ever used.(sic)"
- CNET Editors - "The high-performance Garmin Nüvi 350 should be at the top of your list."
- Joe Mehaffy - "NuVi's GPS receiver sensitivity was the best we have reviewed."
- 37Signals - "Insanely recommended."
- PCMag - "The nüvi 350 from Garmin may well have you prying the plastic out of your wallet."
This thing retails for $900+ at Best Buy and other places, but you can get it for as low as $600 if you look closely. It's $620 at Amazon right now. I expect the price on this to drop at least another $200 as Garmin starts to upsell the Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS. The only difference is that the 360 has Bluetooth Phone Support.
As much as I'd like Bluetooth, I really need to stop talking on the phone. I picked my Nuvi 350 up at the local Best Buy using a combination approach of a "12% of any single item" along with a price-match I forced on them from the Froogle. It CAN be found for around (or under?) $600.
The WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) on this is huge. Mo isn't much for directions, counting mostly on monuments. There's been a few times where she got lost, drove home to get me, and had me drive her somewhere. Not being able to get somewhere is very helpless, and while Mo's not big on gadgets, she loves this GPS. The directions are clear, the touch screen is easy to use. Our favorite feature is the "Food near here." We recently had breakfast at the wonderful Sanborn's and never would have found it if we hadn't "asked."
Seriously, Robert, I've done the Streets and Trips "have the wife hold the laptop" thing. It really doesn't work unless you want to mount your TabletPC to your dashboard vents. Mappoint 2006 tried to get turn-by-turn directions right, but barely achieved a late-90s level of mediocrity. Bless them for trying, but Mappoint is a kick-ass geodatamining tool. However, it's directions are poo.
A dedicated, installed GPS is such a joy. They change one's life in a small, but measurable way like only two other devices have thus far - the iPod and the DVR.
Now, the real question, how will Scott Bellware afford a Nuvi?