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taking the plunge with the garmin streetpilot c580

I was waiting, ever so patiently, for the Garmin StreetPilot c580 to drop below the $500 mark - and it finally did. (Edit: I know there are places that sell the unit cheaper, but I prefer to buy from NewEgg).

My computer is paid off, and I knew that my next major purchase was going to be another Garmin StreetPilot so I could relegate the c340 as a backup. So I went ahead and purchased the c580. It should arrive sometime next week.

There are a few things (albeit very few) about the c340 that are a bit annoying.

I originally upgraded from the i3 to the c340. The i3 has a daylight-readable screen that can be easily seen. The c340 on the other hand does not. I had to buy a hoody for it just so the screen wouldn't wash out in the sun. But even with the hoody it's still sometimes difficult to see the screen in bright daylight.

The c340's lithium ion battery completely stopped working one day. I cannot power the unit on battery alone. It either has to be powered by USB or the car charger, so I leave it plugged in all the time. Even though I always did that anyway, it still sucks that it conked out like that.

In Florida heat the unit will not power on. I have to routinely take the c340 off it's suction mount and put it in the footwell if I'm park anywhere for longer than 15 minutes during daylight hours.

The speakers are either too loud or too quiet. During non-highway driving conditions I keep my volume setting one "bar" below loudest, but I wish it was just a hair louder. On the highway with the window rolled down I have to crank it to max volume but it's not loud enough.

Navigation-wise the c340 has been nothing but stellar in its performance, the touchscreen has always worked perfectly and I've never had reason to complain save for the comments above. It does what it's designed to do - and does it well.

. . .

With the c580, this is what I get over the c340:

1. Brighter daylight-readable screen.

All c5xx series are supposed to have screens with anti-glare on it and better back-lighting which should greatly reduce the sunlight washout problem (and hopefully eliminate it).

2. Faster signal acquisition.

The newer Garmin units use SiRF. This is supposed to increase signal acquisition and strength by a large margin.

3. Free MSN Direct service for 12 months.

Undoubtedly this is what I'm most looking forward to. The Tampa Bay area is a participating metro with this service. With it, I can automatically route around traffic jams, find the best gas prices easily, get weather reports (basic but better than nothing), and check out what movies are playing and what time they're showing at the local theaters.

I will find good use for all these save for the movie stuff. Don't know how often I'd use that.

4. MP3 player.

Eh. Don't really care about that.

5. Picture viewer.

Don't really care about that either.

6. Headphone jack.

This I might have use for, depending on how good (or not good) the speakers are.

7. Anti-theft feature.

This option I really like. Although I guard my GPS like a hawk, having the anti-theft is a very good thing to have.

. . .

So... in a week or so I'll write up a review. Watch for it.

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