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Garmin StreetPilot c340 and 2720 review

On this Christmas Eve, Santa came by (better known as the UPS delivery guy) and delivered my Garmin StreetPilot c340 and Pop's Garmin SteetPilot 2720. Here's my review on both.

First of all I should state that I've been using the Garmin StreetPilot i3 since it was introduced so I will be comparing the bigger units to the smaller i3. In actuality I'm comparing three different units from Garmin. A small one (i3), a bigger one (c340) and a premium model (2720). If you want more in-depth review of the i3 just search my site; I've written plenty about it.

On to business..

Here's what I noticed about the c340.

1. The display is huge when compared to the i3. The display is extremely easy to read and beats the i3 by leaps and bounds.

2. The text-to-speech voice is below par. The i3's voice is very easy to understand while the c340's "Jill" is a little too "computery" sounding. I believe the reason for this is because the i3 has recordings of voices, while the c340 has an actual text-to-speech engine which isn't as clear sounding. I can understand it but you can definitely hear the difference in the negative direction. In future models this will probably be improved. Only when you have a language selected that is text-to-speech is when the voice sounds crappy. You can select the pre-recorded voice which sounds MUCH better.

3. The touch screen completely kicks ass. When compared to the i3's wheel/scroll/click way of doing things, you can find stuff much faster and easier.

4. You have to go through a few menus to set a custom POI on the c340 while on the i3 it's just one click, but it evens out when you consider that you can "type" the name of the POI on the c340 while on the i3 you have to do that wheel/click thing which is very time consuming.

More detail on this:

You want to set a custom waypoint/POI for where you are. This is how to do it.

With i3: Hold wheel button. Unit bleeps and saves waypoint. You can opt to name it now or later.

With c340: Where To? / My Locations / Save. Unit saves waypoint. Same as i3; opt to name it now or later.

Both units save waypoint initially as a numeric title, like "003" until you rename it.

5. Trip computer is wonderful. Makes it look like you're driving K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. The digital speedometer (which even shows a needle) is way cool.

6. The fields at the bottom left/right are clickable - YES! And it will tell you how long it will take both in time and distance until your next turn (the i3 doesn't have that) in addition to when you will get there.

7. The mount is much more study. This thing ain't goin' nowhere. 🙂

8. When setting the mount on the dash it looks like a huge robotic arm. While the i3 would lay "squat" on the dash, this one extends upward. It's good but I wish there were a way to set it lower.

9. Suction that means business. When this thing sucks itself on to the glass or the plate mount, it definitely stays there and there's no way this thing is coming off (unless you unmount it manually of course).

10. The fact the unit is preloaded with the entire USA, Canada and Puerto Rico is damned convenient. No more loading stuff from DVD (which you have to do with the i3). The only time you even need to load anything is if a new DVD is released, and even then it's optional.

11. Calculates routes faster. I can tell this thing definitely has a better processor in it.

And now, things I've noticed about the 2720.

1. Display is not as big as I thought it would be. I thought this thing would be larger than the c340's display, which it is - but it's only wider, not taller. A bit of a disappointment.

2. Does not operate on battery. If it ain't plugged it, it won't turn on. In addition, to use the USB connector, you have to plug in the power cord first, then the USB cable, else the USB cable gets in the way of the power port.

3. Will not power on USB alone. You need the power adapter and there's no way around it. The c340 and i3 can be powered on USB alone.

4. Seeing the actual satellite trajectory is way cool. On one of the screens you can actually see what satellites the 2720 is polling information from, and what the signal strength is. It looks like the same thing air traffic controllers look at. Geeky to the extreme - just the way I like it. 🙂

5. Buttons on the right are very nice shortcuts, particularly "Map" and "Menu" which directly jump to those functions instead of plodding through a bunch of menus or hitting "back" ten million times.

6. Bean bag mount is great - and should be mandatary on all GPS units. Easy to place, easy to position and there's never any sticky stuff on your dash or those infamous circle marks from where you suction mount other units.

7. Takes more clicks to do what you want to do. "My Locations" is a good example of this. You click a "Favorite", then it shows the location with a "Go to" button. Why the extra step? Probably more of a functionality thing for extra features.

8. WAY more customization. This is where it's worth the extra $200 for this unit (compared to c340) comes into play. You can customize every single thing on the 2720, including text size (towns, streets, cities and damn near anything else you can think of), color of routes (nice touch) and lots of other things. Setting avoidances goes into way more detail as well.

9. Same "computery" voice as c340. For something this price I would have expected better voice clarity - and it's a damn shame the i3's voice sounds so much better compared to a premium model that's more than twice its price. Only when you have a language selected that is text-to-speech is when the voice sounds crappy. You can select the pre-recorded voice which sounds MUCH better.

10. Ability to turn fields off. Nice option. Normally you will see black fields on the bottom right and a green field at the top right and so on, but you can easily turn them off so the map takes up the entire display and I like that. You can also easily turn them back on.

11. No speaker physically in the unit. The speaker is on the power adapter plug for the car. It's a good size speaker and can be easily heard (truly), but I prefer the speaker to be in the unit (like the i3 and c340) rather than external. That's just a personal preference.

12. Not meant for smaller cars. It's a good thing my Pop owns a truck. The 2720 would take up way too much room in anything smaller than a sedan. If space is a concern, consider the c340 or the i3. When you go for the big screen you obviously get a larger unit that takes up more space on the dashboard. Keep that in mind.

There are lots of other things about the 2720 (including the handy remote) that I haven't tried out yet, but yes, it is a premium unit as Garmin says it is. It has all the toys and is definitely meant for the "power user". Pop bought it primarily because of the large display, and yeah, it's bright. It's also cool it has the auto day/night function (like the i3 and c340) so it isn't a blazing beacon of light at night.

Both units calculate routes fast, recalculate routes instantly if you miss a turn and are truly ready to use out-of-the-box just like Garmin says they are. Both units are not larger versions of the i3; there are tons more features in each which make for much easier and enjoyable GPS navigation.

I've given my "old" i3 to my sister and now she is enojoying GPS as well, so now the whole family is GPS'd. Cool. Sis said at first "I don't need this" but after using it for less than a week she can't drive without it now. Once you get hooked on GPS you never go back. 🙂

Oh! Almost forgot to mention (check this out):

Using MapSource (and if you own a Garmin GPS product, GET THIS, it's free), I was able to download all the waypoints from the i3 and send them to both the c340 and 2720 very easily. It was AWESOME that I was able to do that.

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