Back in September last year, Benny reviewed the Tom Tom Go, and decided that it was a must have product for anyone wanting to drive from A to B with minimum fuss and no need for maps. Amazingly, it’s taken this long before another product has appeared to really challenge the Tom Tom Go, and it’s no surprise that this challenge comes from Garmin.
Garmin knows a thing or two about GPS, and anyone that’s into outdoor pursuits probably has a Garmin device stashed in the rucksack whenever they leave the house. Personally I have a Garmin Gecko 301 that my wife kindly gave me for Christmas a few years back – it sits on my handlebars when I’m mountain biking and makes sure that I get back home, no matter how unfamiliar I am with the area.
But despite Garmin’s obvious heritage in GPS technology, it’s taken a surprising amount of time for it to really burst into the in-car navigation market. There have been other StreetPilot devices, but the c320 actually looks like a product that’s been designed for in-car navigation from start to finish.
The StreetPilot c320 bears an uncanny resemblance to the Tom Tom Go, although it is a bit more svelte. The SD card slot is located on the left hand side, rather than at the front on the Tom Tom, and on the right you’ll find the power button, mini USB connector and an analogue volume wheel. The latter is a great feature, making it very simple to adjust the volume as your environment changes, or as the music on your car stereo gets louder.
Garmin supplies a 256MB SD card with the StreetPilot, which contains detailed maps of the UK and Ireland pre-loaded. The supplied CD includes maps for most of Western Europe, so if you did want to go on a European touring holiday, you could just load up the relevant maps.
Before I go into how the StreetPilot is to use, let me say that once you have got your route planned and you set off in your car, this device works brilliantly. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and it has helped me find some obscure locations that I probably would have struggled with otherwise. If the StreetPilot c320 has convinced me of one thing, it’s that I want an in-car navigation system – just not this one.
In some ways I feel quite sorry for the StreetPilot, because Garmin has equipped it with some truly excellent features, but unfortunately along the way it seems to have missed some of the fundamentals.
When you turn on the StreetPilot, you’re greeted with a screen with two selections “Where to?” and "View map” – both pretty self explanatory. The Where to? section is probably where you’ll be going most of the time, as this is where you’ll be attempting to plan your route. The biggest problem with the route planning is that you can’t search by post code. Now, this could be a result of Garmin being an American company, where post or more accurately, zip codes don’t mean that much. However, in the UK, searching by post code could place you to within a few yards of your destination quickly and easily.
So the StreetPilot stumbles somewhat at the first hurdle, but unfortunately a lack of post code search isn’t the only problem. When you search by address, the first questions you’re asked is which country you wish to search in. Pressing E will instantly present you with England – so far so good. You’re then asked which city you’re looking in – you can either search all cities, or spell the one you’re after. Next you need to enter the house number, which is fine as long as the place you’re going has a number. Then you need to enter the street name, and this is where the problems begin.