Geek Gifts 2007: Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS Navigator

Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS Navigator

The Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS Navigator offers more than animated maps. With a near-instantaneous satellite connection, the StreetPilot c330 knows exactly where it is upon powering up. It mounts effortlessly thanks to a suction-cup based mounting unit and can fit on the dashboard if preferred over the original windshield-mount design. Thanks to clearly labeled menus, accurate driving directions, and intuitive lists, the Garmin StreetPilot c330 is a fun gift for the techy on your shopping list, but will be a favorite of even the least technologically inclined.

The StreetPilot c330 retails for approximately $350.00 USD in stores such as Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Target, though it can be found on-line for significantly less. Though the StreetPilot c330 carries a mid- to low-range price tag for portable GPS systems, the steep price tag is only one of the c330's downsides.

As is a problem with most small, touch-screen technologies, some of the buttons can be a bit too little for an adult-sized finger; though it seems that this problem is probably not StreetPilot c330-specific. Also, the verbal directions do not include street names. I feel that verbal directions including street names would really help to get the full benefit of the product. A spoken "Turn right" is simply not always descriptive enough. "Turn right onto West Broadway" really allows the driver to keep his eyes on the road. Other models, including other Garmin models, do offer street naming in the verbal directions.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns with the StreetPilot c330 is its high profile. It simply doesn't seem to fit well into large vehicles with deep-set dashboards, such as mini-vans. This is a real problem in that a large marketing demographic for GPS navigation systems are people who tend to drive SUVs and mini-vans. The windshield mount also makes the c330 particularly visible from outside the vehicle. The owner would be wise to hide the c330 from view when the vehicle is parked. (The manual even makes note of this safety precaution.)

But really, the negatives don't necessarily outweigh the positives here. Even in a large vehicle, the windshield mount is functional, simply not optimal. Yes, verbal street name cues are great, but the system still works wonderfully without them.


Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS Navigator

In a test-drive, the c330 took the preferred and optimum route, even though that meant going "the back way" and not using the main arteries - and that is what really makes the Garmin StreetPilot c330 really stand out. Most on-line mapping systems, such as Google Maps and MapQuest, keep the driver on main artery roads as much as possible, meaning the best route is not always the one that is given. The c330 gives the optimum route, making a great gift for anybody.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

Fun Factor: 4

Geek Factor: 3

Value: 2

Overall: 3

View my image gallery review of the Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS Navigator.

See the Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS Navigator cracked open.