review of the Garmin Street Pilot C330 GPS unit

I picked up a re-certified Garmin C330 StreetPilot for $119 from Tiger Direct recently. I briefly researched cheap GPS's, and Garmin seemed to get better reviews (by a small margin). I was afraid that since it was re-certified it'd only come with the unit itself, but was happy to see that it came with a brand new mounting bracket, software, 12v power cord, USB cable, and manual. The actual unit itself seems very sturday and well-designed. The touchscreen is nice looking and bright and colorful.

The suction mount works great. It is on the windshield very tight. I mounted it right below the rear view mirror. I've read complaints about the sun washing out the screen on this model, but I can see the screen easily (the sun doesn't wash it out). I have pretty bad eyes (Coke bottle eyeglasses), but I can see the screen easily, as it's only about 2 feet from your face when you use the windshield mount.

I use it extensively, and it works great. No more having to look through maps and the atlas. It'll tell you verbally plenty of time before you get to your turn, and it'll again tell you to turn left or right immediately before you get to the intersection. And the screen has a lot of useful information. Up top, it tells you what street you're on and what street you'll be turning on eventually. And then there's a detailed 3D map with street names on it. And the display tells you how many miles you have to go before you have to make your next turn. And your route will be in bright red. Several times, I've come to confusing traffic circles or weird entrances and was unsure where to go (even if the unit says to make a left or right), but if you just glance at the screen and follow the red route, you'll be ok.

If you take a wrong turn or if the unit steers you wrong, it'll quickly recalculate your correct route and get you back on track. 99% of the time it works flawlessly. My only complaint is that the included map is from 2006. City Navigator NT 2006. They should include a 2008 map or at least a 2007 map.

Typing in addresses is fast. No need to type in the full name of cities and streets. For example, if you are looking for an address in Sacramento, just type in "Sac", and it'll present a list of cities starting with "Sac". Then you touch "Sacramento". It takes like 5-10 seconds to enter in an address.

If you're in a strange city and craving coffee, just type in Starbuck's and the unit will guide you to the nearest Starbuck's. I should have bought one of these a year ago. GPS technology has matured, and the prices have dropped. This unit cost $500 just 2 years ago.
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  1. I had read elsewhere that Garmin will sometimes give you a discount on the updated maps after you buy a GPS with outdated maps. I emailed Garmin, and no such luck. $69.95 for the 2009 maps.

    So after dropping $120 on the unit and $70 on the new maps, that totals $190. I would have been better off buying the Garmin Nuvi 200 which has the updated maps and is on sale for $160. And the Nuvi is the new style form factor and is nice and small. I could have saved $30 AND gotten the newer style GPS unit.
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