Garmin Nuvi 350 portable GPS navigator review

garmin nuvi 350

Gotta love GPS !

After using various GPS units in car rentals, and thinking about next generation p2p GPS devices like the Dash, I finally decided to go out and buy a GPS device for myself. The market for these devices is in a phase where innovation is accelerating, adoption rates are picking up pace, and expectations for the “next thing” dominates product coverage.

My research for this purchase included googling around and finding a good review of the Nuvi 350 on the Signal vs Noise blog (Dec ’05 review) . And also consulting with my buddy, and GPS expert, Wilson Rothman.

It’s been about two months since I chose the Garmin Nuvi 350 after looking at various models. Overall it’s very solid and gets the job done, and for around $350 ( bought in Aug 2007 ) it’s hard to beat.

The good:
– A crisp display that does well in all light conditions
– The maps are easy to read
– Directions are accurate 🙂
– The voice prompts are helpful and well timed
– If you miss a turn or want to hunt for an alternative route the device “recalculates” very quickly
– The price point was spot on for me

The bad:
– Bootup time could be better — takes about 10 seconds
– Locating the satelite on bootup can take 20-30 seconds – would be nice if it just remembered the last place you were at and asked if that’s where you were.
– Looking up a business name seems too slow to be useful
– In theory it’s portable enough to take on a hike or any other use outside the car. In reality the battery drains so quickly after a charge, that when I go and check the device after being in the car overnight, the battery is almost always completely empty.

The ugly :
– No complaints of anything terrible

Wish list:
– No easy way to transfer address info from my desktop machine to the device. Many times I’m on my macbook pro usually using google maps or yelp to find something, and I would love to be able to email-in or via SMS send the address to the GPS unit. Instead I email myself, and then punch it in when I get to the car
– Certain highways always get selected even though you know better roads are available. Not a big deal, but would be nice if it “learned” my preferences.
– Having to punch in the city name just seems weird. It knows what city I’m in, and should simply show the 5 nearest cities by default.
– Needs to be two way. The other day I had it find the nearest gas station and it found a 7-11 store that had no gas station ! Not a huge deal, and an easy mistake, but I should be able to flag that, and inform all other users of this mistake.
– More two-way options. Would be nice to have the ability to sync all the data back to the web, so I could review past trips, and mark places of interest for future trips.
– More sharing. Would be cool to see (anonymously) what were the most effective routes to take at certain hours based on what other people did, the most scenic, the one with the least amount of traffic, etc. Lots can be done in this area.

So overall The Nuvi 350 is a solid mid tier GPS unit, and I’m personally looking forward to the next generation GPS devices.

5 thoughts on “Garmin Nuvi 350 portable GPS navigator review

  1. Eli says:

    There is an Israel map for Nuvi (though not developed by Garmin). It is public domain and can be located by searching ‘israel routable garmin’. It is a gmapsupp.img file which can be uploaded to the Nuvi flash or SD card.

  2. Rodger says:

    Like my 2 Nuvi 350’s. One just started giving a no signal message when there is a signal on the other one. Is it the antenae? Anyone have any ideas?

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