Garmin nuvi 350: REVIEW

 

Garmin’s StreetPilot c-Series introduced us to a welcome marriage of strong technical features with unprecedented ease of use. Just a few months later, with the nüvi 350, Garmin has taken its blending of form and function to a new level, offering an elegant yet essential travel tool to the traveler. Already receiving accolades in Europe (“It’s just brilliant,” says Global Positioning Systems in the U.K.) where its release has preceded that in North America, the slim 5-ounce nüvi 350 is sure to find its niche among frequent travelers who may find themselves finding their way through heavy traffic in Chicago on Tuesday and navigating the narrow sidewalks of Rome on Wednesday, with access to a spoken Italian Language Guide to boot (along with 8 other languages) along your stroll.

 


Ratings Summary
Includes ratings for Garmin nuvi 350, 360, 370
nuvi 350
Owner Reviews
nuvi 360
Owner Reviews
nuvi 370
Owner Reviews
nuvi 350
nuvi 350, 360
Editor’s Choice
Our Rating: 4.5 Stars
Do you own it? Rate it!
[ratings]

PC Magazine’s review calls the nüvi an “indispensable travel companion…a portable GPS navigator, traveler’s reference, and digital entertainment system, all in one.” The nüvi sports Garmin’s top-end GPS features, such as a brilliant touch screen, pre-loaded maps for North America, turn-by-turn directions, “text-to-speech” which reads street names out loud when announcing turns, and compatibility with the optional GTM10 traffic receiver for live traffic updates and automatic rerouting. It also is one of the first units available to use the next-generation SiRFstar III GPS module which significantly improves reception and reduces the time for the unit to establish a satellite fix to calculate your position. The unit is compatible with Garmin’s City Select map road maps, meaning that if your travels take you to Europe, South Africa, Australia, etc., you can purchase and download those maps to your unit.

The nüvi’s “Travel Kit” distinguishes it from standard GPS units, and includes the Language Guide mentioned above, a Travel Guide, which includes detailed information on points of interest (POIs), an MP3 player, an audio book player, a picture viewer, an SD card slot, and other tools, including a world clock, and converters for currency, temperature, measurements, etc. Early tests show this unit excelling in each of its features, and its biggest drawback is likely to be price. With the nüvi, Garmin has defined a new niche in the GPS category. If Apple’s iPod has taught us

Pro
Con

Feature-rich & very portable, versatile

Ideal for frequent or international travel with additional “Travel Kit” feature

 

Expensive

Subscription required for traffic features; some “Travel Kit” features require additional cost

 

anything, nüvi’s superb implementation and good looks would seem to ensure it will be a hit. Owners’ reviews have been “over the top” with delight (a five-star average on Amazon) and not just because of its good looks. One of the key attributes cited by owners is the great speed with which the nüvi finds and holds a satellite lock, thanks to the superior next-generation SiRF chip set inside. Not only do its aesthetic and technical merits impress us, we find it exceptionally easy to use and easy to see, sporting a bright and very readable screen. The only consistent downside we’ve seen owners express is the unit’s price, but it appears that the financial sting is soon forgotten a few miles down the road with nüvi at the helm. [Updated 8 October 2007; Updated: 27 February 2006; Full Review: 7 February 2006; Early Review: 13 November 2005; © 2005-2007 Rated4Stars.com]
 

Description

What if one device could help you navigate anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, while offering travel tips, storing your favorite tunes and photos, providing translation assistance, and more? That device is here, and it’s not much bigger than a deck of cards. The Garmin nüvi 350 is set to revolutionize what we expect from a GPS navigation device, or from any device for that matter.
 
Design
With a total weight of 5.1 ounces and slim measurements of 3.87 x 2.91 x 0.87 inches (WxHxD), the nüvi 350 is just right for the pocket or purse. A bright, 64,000-color display dominates the front of the device and a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels means that there’s plenty of room for displaying map data and other elements of the device’s interface. An SD memory card slot is provided for expansion software, such as a points of interest database, media files and electronic guides (see below). The flip-up antenna includes an MCX-type connector for connecting the unit to an external GPS antenna. Meanwhile, a powerful built-in speaker resides on the back of device. A built-in lithium ion battery will give you for to eight hours of battery life, depending on use. In addition to an AC charger, the unit also ships with a 12-volt power adapter for vehicle charging, as well as a windshield suction cup mount.

Fortunately, Garmin has made it easy to interface with the nüvi 350′s 700 megabytes of onboard memory, thanks to "plug-and-play" USB mass storage support. Just plug the device into your computer’s USB port and you’ve got instantaneous access to all the audio books, music, photos, supplemental maps and other data on the nüvi 350′s internal and SD card memory.

Navigation
The nüvi 350 is first and foremost a personal GPS device. Wherever you go — in your car or on foot– the device offers extremely accurate position data, thanks to a high-sensitivity integrated GPS receiver by SiRF and WAAS-enabled, 12-satellite reception. Combined with detailed maps of the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico the nüvi 350 provides automatic routing, turn-by-turn voice directions, and touchscreen control– making it easy to find your way anywhere. Plus, the unique "text-to-speech" feature calls out turns by street name, and you can choose from either 2D or 3D mapping perspectives when you’re viewing your route on the display. Additionally, the nüvi 350 is compatible with Garmin’s GTM 10 FM TMC traffic receiver, which allows users to avoid traffic tie-ups by simply pushing a button that will calculate a new route. (Traffic services available only in select cities where RDS-TMC coverage exists. Requires the GTM 10 FM TMC traffic receiver and subscription fee to enable traffic capability.)

As mentioned, the nüvi 350 comes packed with mapping data for North America, but you can can also load up your custom points of interest. Set up proximity alerts for school zones, safety cameras, and more using Garmin’s free POI (points of interest) loader program (available from garmin.com).

Tools for the Journey
Navigation is just part of the journey, and the nüvi 350 is one of the first devices to recognize that. The built-in "Travel Kit" offers an MP3 player, an audio book player from Audible.com, a jpeg-format picture viewer, a world travel clock with time zones, a currency converter, a measurement converter, and a calculator.

In addition to the included travel tools, additional software add-ons are available, such as the Garmin Language Guide, with data provided by Oxford University Press. This software suite contains a multilingual word bank, phrase bank, and five bilingual dictionaries. The multilingual word bank and phrase bank supports nine languages and dialects, including American English, British English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, European Spanish, and Latin American Spanish. Now you can look up and translate more than 17,000 words or 20,000 phrases per language — right in the palm of your hand. Through the unit’s text-to-speech interface, users can get a spoken pronunciation of each entry in the word bank, along with gender and part of speech information.

Another useful add-on software package, the Garmin Travel Guide, is loaded with information provided by Marco Polo. These guides put in-depth travel information such as reviews and recommendations for restaurants, tourist attractions, and more at your fingertips. The software allows you to navigate to an address or search points of interest– places like hotels, restaurants, shopping, and tourist attractions. The nüvi 350 automatically calculates the fastest route and provides voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions along the way. The unit also audibly announces the name of upcoming streets– letting you keep your eyes on the road while navigating through busy traffic and tricky roadways. And if you stray off course, the nüvi 350 automatically calculates the quickest way to get back on track.

 


Key Features at a Glance
Feature
nuvi 350
nuvi 360
nuvi 370
Ready to Use Out of the Box?

North America (including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Canada)

North America (including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Canada)

North America (including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Canada) PLUS Europe
Spoken, Turn-by-Turn Directions?
Text-to-Speech? (Announces Street Names)
Voice Recognition?
Multi-Destination Routing?
Bluetooth?

MP3/Audio Player?

Live Traffic/Weather?

Receiver Not Included


Receiver Not Included


FM TMC Receiver Included
Suitable for Offroad Use?
Limited map coverage
Limited map coverage
Limited map coverage
Portable?
(internal battery)
Other Features:
Photo viewer, “Where am I?” Safety Feature, travel features
Photo viewer, “Where am I?” Safety Feature, travel features
Photo viewer, “Where am I?” Safety Feature, travel features

 

 

Additional Specifications
Weight 5.1 ounces (144.6 g)
Dimensions 3.87"W x 2.91"H x .87"D (9.83 x 7.39 x 2.21 cm)
Screen 2.8"W x 2.1"H (7.2 x 5.4 cm); 3.5" diag (8.9 cm)
 WxH: 320 x 240 pixels
QVGA color TFT with white backlight
Chipset SiRF Star III with 20-channel all-in-view; WAAS
In the Box nüvi 350/360/370, Preloaded City Navigator® NT for North America (plus Europe on 370 model), AC charger, FM traffic receiver with vehicle power cable (370 model), Vehicle suction cup mount*, Dashboard disc, USB cable, Quick start manual
Warranty One Year Limited Warranty
uSell

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