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During a recent trip from New York to Florida, we tested the Garmin Street Pilot c340. This gave us the opportunity to use the c340 in a variety of conditions. For the trip down the route created by the Garmin was compared to one created by AAA. Both plans took similar routes and were within a few miles of each other.
The StreetPilot c340 resides in the middle of the Garmin automotive line. The unit has a touch screen display which is 3.5" in diagonal. The c340 is fairly compact and light for good portability between vehicles. It can be powered from a 12 volt car connection or its internal battery which is stated to last up to 8 hours. All US maps are pre-loaded and a USB cable is included for updates from Garmin. Operation of the unit is via the touch screen. The c340 will display 2D or 3D maps. Users can choose to upload POI's (Points Of Interest) if they desire. The c340 also has an SD memory card slot, an external antenna connection and can support traffic alerting with an optional module. The c340 comes with a suction cup bracket and a disc which can be used to attach the unit to the dashboard. If the disc is used, it could damage the dashboard on removal. Garmin does offer a dash mount which can be moved from vehicle to vehicle without causing damage.
The vehicle used for the test had a windshield which prevented the Garmin from obtaining a signal from any of the satellites. An order was placed for an external antenna which was installed once it arrived. The dashboard mount was also used. Once connected, the c340 picked up satellites quickly.
The c340 is has a power switch on the side and once turned on, a compulsory legal notification comes up. When the unit is used indoors a notice displays asking if you are indoors and requires a response. One of the first tasks performed before the trip began was to set our "Home" location. This was accomplished by pressing the Address, then Set Home. The next item on the agenda was to set all of the places we planned to visit along with our final destination.
At the start of our trip the unit was placed in the car and the cables were connected. Once the StreetPilot was powered on and had acquired the satellites, our destination was chosen by pressing "Where To?", "Favorites", and then the location which was added previously. The Garmin quickly generated our course and guided us with voice prompts and a highlighted 3D display of our first turn. Unlike many other GPS units, the c340 speaks the names of the locations and streets. This is a big plus.
The system offers many destination options including; food, lodging, fuel, intersections, attractions, shopping, parking, entertainment, recreation, community, cities, hospitals, transit and auto services. The Garmin also provides the opportunity to spell a name, browse the map and type in an address. Additionally you can have the Garmin StreetPilot route you to locations which you have previously setup, which is how we used the unit for the majority of the trip.
One limitation to the StreetPilot c340 is only one waypoint is allowed. The way around this is to create multiple segments within your trip. The disadvantage to doing this is you do not have the estimated arrival time to your end destination and there are additional steps which must be manually completed.
For the most part the Garmin StreetPilot c340 did a good job. On the southward journey the GPS chose a good route, but a different one when we were headed north. Note: Garmin has released a patch which is supposed to correct this issue.
One inconsistency noted was the length of time between announcements. Sometimes a verbal announcement would be provided at 1.2 miles, .9 for others. Often at .2 and then sometimes no verbal indication as we got closer to the next turn. The unit had a hard time in parking lots, had we followed its directions, many U-Turns would have had to been made. Additionally after coming from a parking lot near the highway intersection we needed to take, the c340 would not find the entrance ramp soon enough.
The built-in database is very comprehensive. On two occasions the system was unable to generate a list of locations, another time the GPS could not find a restaurant.
Of note, when entering an address sometimes the street name needs to be played with, example US Route or Rt. in order to find where you want to go.
Two excellent features of the c340 are the 3D views and speaking actual names of streets and destinations. Another very nice innovation is the system will automatically change from daylight mode to night mode, which is a black background. The StreetPilot c340 could use a better range in the volume control as anything under 2 bars at the top is very difficult to hear and a louder speaker.
Overall the Garmin StreetPilot c340 is a very good value. It will get you to where you want to go without costing a lot of money.
Best features: Voice guidance by street names and 3D mapping.
The c340 retails for $642.84 and has a street price of $468.00.
The Garmin StreetPilot c340 receives 8 sights out of a possible 10.