Garmin 350LM First Impressions
IÔÇÖve just spent about 2,500 miles with the 350LM, here are my impressions (see my post earlier in this thread for availability, etc). We went through the Canadian maritimes and hit every kind of weather except snow. I mounted the 350LM on my ÔÇÖ84 R80ST.
Out of the box, no problems including installation and setup except that Garmin should be ashamed not to include a decent case; everything else was there. The instructions are typical of a newly issued deviceÔÇölacking a lot, with no paper copy of the manual included (really Garmin?), just a 1-page ÔÇÿquick startÔÇÖ that covers cradle attachment to the handlebars. You will need the manual, since Garmin devices are not always intuitive. The GPS canÔÇÖt be locked to the cradle, so youÔÇÖll take it with you when you park the bike. Removing the Zumo from the cradle automatically registers your ÔÇÿparkedÔÇÖ location, and puts the GPS to sleep. There were no firmware glitches on setup of the Zumo, but a software update with some bug fixes was available when I registered the unit; no problems downloading and installing the software update (the 350LM is firmware-upgradeable). I dislike the fact that the battery is not user-replaceable. The unit is rugged and uses a two prong connector (not USB port) for power; the USB port cover fits well but the little rubber covers for the memory card and headphone jack donÔÇÖt stay in place very well. We got drenched and no water got in, so perhaps the covers are as good as they need to be. It has both Bluetooth and a wired headphone connection, but the rubber rain cover flap for the headphone connector just gets pushed to the side when a headphone jack is in place. I suppose this is better than a rubber cap that can get misplaced, but itÔÇÖs not elegant.
The screen is clearly visible in direct sun, even at mid-point on the brightness adjustment. The unit, and the cradle/GPS power connection, didnÔÇÖt give any trouble in torrential rain (and my ST has no fairing or windshield, only a primitive flyscreen). The Zumo screen IS glove-friendly even in heavy rain, although it was pretty much impossible to hit some of the tiny icons accurately with a large, wet, gloved finger while the unfaired STÔÇÖs elderly front end was pounding away at highway speeds. I got it right more often than not I suppose. The screen redraws and the unit recalculates almost instantaneously.
Feature-wise, the comparison grid Tom linked to above covers a lot of it. John you asked about the maintenance log feature. . . .this is a simple app that lets you record service informationÔÇödate due (or last performed) and mileage, with a long list of predefined categories (filter changes/cleaning, brake fluid/pads, battery, oil, etc, etc. You can create new--or rename old--categories if you like. I didnÔÇÖt (and donÔÇÖt expect to) use this feature but it appears to be just a logÔÇöit doesnÔÇÖt track mileage for that service item and then provide a reminder on screen when your next service is due. On the other hand, I found the ÔÇÿFuel TrackerÔÇÖ app very useful--my ST has a small tank and the trip odometer is broken. . . with this app you program in how many miles you expect from a full tank, and how many miles in advance of empty you want a reminder, and reset the tracker when you refill. When youÔÇÖre approaching reserve, a warning icon pops up to remind you to start your search for gas. A tap of the icon retrieves a list of the nearest gas stations including direction and distance, and with another tap you can insert the station you choose into your programmed route. I liked the ZumoÔÇÖs ÔÇÿExit ServicesÔÇÖ shortcut, with services available at a tap while enroute (although this feature only works for exits from major highways). In the maritimes we rarely found cell phone service, but most McDonalds restaurants have WiFi available, and ÔÇÿExit ServicesÔÇÖ was helpful to find WiFi and connect with the outside world. . .a little more efficient to stop to get destination information or connect with family. ÔÇÿTrafficÔÇÖ info is optional with the 350LM, requiring a separate antenna and subscription.
I donÔÇÖt have anything nice to say about BaseCamp (GarminÔÇÖs desktop-based trip planner, which is NOT what this thread is about so I wont say more) but it worked well-enough to create and upload routes, waypoints, POIs and other locations to the 350LM. The ZumoÔÇÖs internal Trip Planner app also worked pretty well to adjust routes, insert points, and change plans on the fly, but as with other Zumos, when pondering alternate routes youÔÇÖll want a paper map for convenienceÔÇª..detail is so limited when zoomed out itÔÇÖs hard to visualize what your planned route will be. ÔÇÿLane AssistÔÇÖ is included and may be helpful around big cities in the US, I suppose, but on the Canadian highways we used, the Garmin database info about lane arrangements at big intersections was inaccurate quite often.
The Zumo 350LM does NOT include an MP3 player (or picture viewer), so it uses a headset (HFP or HSP) profile for Bluetooth pairing rather than an A2DP profile used for high fidelity audio (and used by the Garmin 660/665). We were using Sena SMH10 headsets, which can selectively pair with one HFP/HSP and one A2DP profile simultaneously, but NOT two A2DP profiles. So . .. we were able to have high-quality stereo music (iTunes, Pandora, etc), cell phone, and voice-prompt based functions (Siri) available through our phones, voice directions from the Zumo, and headset-headset communications, all switched and prioritized by the Sena headset rather than having phone functions and music handled via the Garmin, and relying on the GPS to sort it all out. Music/phone/intercom switching was reliable and we were able to use voice-prompt apps with our phones. To each his ownÔÇöfor those who want their GPS to be an entertainment center (or who rely on XM for weather or other info), the 350LM isnÔÇÖt a good choice. But for those who prefer to have your phone be your iTunes/entertainment/information/communications deviceÔÇöespecially if youÔÇÖre using Sena headsets, the 350LM is a good option.
I had only one apparent glitch with the 350LM, mid-way through our tripÔÇöthe GPS apparently dropped my final destination twice while enroute, with the estimated arrival time jumping ahead by 4 hours each time. Each time, I was able to re-enter my destination point and restart the route while riding (recent destinations are prioritized in the ÔÇÿWhere ToÔÇÖ choices and easy to call up. . . ) but a GPS shouldnÔÇÖt forget where youÔÇÖre going. I havenÔÇÖt confirmed it was a bug. . . the screen is very sensitive and it isnÔÇÖt all that difficult to accidentally change your route (e.g. in my relentless search for gas). But it would be surprising if the first-issue of a new device didnÔÇÖt have a few bugs; GarminÔÇÖs track record with support of their units is probably more relevant than whether the software for a new device needs a few patches.
IÔÇÖll leave others to argue about which Garmin is best, and whether the 350LM is worth the very high price. Personally, I want a GPS to do navigation ON A MOTORCYCLE well and the 350LM does that. I have no interest in having my GPS be an entertainment center--my smartphone offers a whole lot more flexibility in accessing music and information, but to each his own. ThereÔÇÖs no question that cell-service and wifi coverage falls short of satellite-based services and those wanting these other functions in their GPS will be better off sticking with the 660/665.