The Garmin software has numerous extra features that can be added for free or for an additional fee. Freebies include PhotoReal Junction View and 3-D Buildings and Landmarks. The former provides a full-screen graphic at complex interchanges, whilst the latter displays realistic 3D models of key landmarks on the map as you drive, so you can use them to orientate yourself. However, if you want traffic updates, a fee of £17.49 will be required, although this is not a subscription but a one-off. This will furnish you with Garmin's 3D Traffic system, but doesn't include the photoLive Traffic Cameras service we first encountered with the Garmin nuLink 2320 - this costs a further £7.99. Garmin's unique traffic surveillance camera system lets you see the view live of roads. You simply add these to your favourites, and then select one to see what it sees on your smartphone screen. It's not something we would recommend using whilst driving, but can give a very useful glimpse of real traffic conditions.
For £34.99, you can purchase Vehicle Display Integration, which projects the map onto an external car display, but only with compatible vehicles. Panorama 3D will set you back £6.99, and Urban Guidance £3.99. The former gives a more contoured map view, helping you find your bearings in open country in the same way as the 3D landmarks do in more built-up areas. Both were Navigon features before, so have clearly come over when Garmin purchased the company. Urban Guidance is broadly similar to the city modes available from some other manufacturers, providing walking routes which also suggest public transport, although only in a selection of European cities.
So, your original purchase is just the beginning. Loading the Garmin app with all its extras could more than double the price. But at the time of writing, these were not time limited but one-off payments, which makes them a good deal compared to the subscription-based services offered by TomTom. Safety cameras locations are included as standard, however, for countries where this is legally allowed. You can also report any new cameras you come across via a button on the map screen.
In use the Garmin StreetPilot app provides a clear 3D map with sensible voice commands. Your next turning is described along the top, with arrival time on the right and current speed on the left. You can change the arrival time to display a variety of other information, such as distance or time to destination, but only one at a time. Clicking the speed calls up a trip computer display with compass. A tab at the side pulls out quick icons for overlaying information and 3D landmarks, plus calling up Exit Services and plotting a detour. Overall, it's an easy-to-follow navigational experience, and can be viewed in portrait or landscape.
Garmin StreetPilot Western Europe Verdict
With navigation available on both iPhone and Android for free, purchasing a standalone app for £50 or more isn't going to be the right move for everyone. Garmin's mount bundle is reasonable value, however, when generic mounts cost at least the £20 difference between the app and app plus mount, and these won't necessarily offer the same quality as Garmin's. Adding extras does push the price up, although the one-off payment for traffic does make this cheaper than TomTom's subscription for HD Traffic, even if the latter's capabilities are hard to beat. However, TomTom's European iPhone navigation app costs £20 less. So although the Garmin app is very capable, it needs to come down in price to be competitive.