Written on: 28/03/2008 by kiyawhite (56 reviews written)
>Cheap - pick one of these up off eBay for as little as £65
>Maps are upgradeable by a range of microSD cards ranging from £20 to £120
>Voice guidance is brilliantly clear
>Day and night editions of the map make for easy viewing
>3D/2D North/2D map view
>AA batteries power unit for about 6 hours
>Included car power cable
>Suction pad is strong
>One instruction is always given too late: 'take ramp, left'
>The unit doesn't look too nice and because it's not flat may be bulky rather than portable
I bought this cheap Garmin Streetpilot GPS as a shared gift between the people in my house. I didn't have much in the way of savings at the time I bought this as you can tell by the price of the model.
The Streetpilot i3 comes in a small box and seems far too small when you remove it from its packaging to be a good unit. It seemed to be complete truth that this unit was rubbish when I tried it for the first time on the night I got the unit. Why? It gave directions like this: "In point 3 miles left." "left. Point 5 miles right. left." This was terrible. The only way you could use the system to navigate was to have the passenger in the car to read the map and to shut the dodgy journey guide off who wasn't making any sense.
The problematic voice guide was corrected by connecting the unit to the PC with the supplied USB cable and going to the Garmin update website. Here you could download version 2.2 of the voice for the i3 (it's version 2.0 that comes installed by default). Once this was installed the problem was solved, and the voice guide was directing us with a better "In 0 point 3 miles turn left." "Turn left. [pause] In 0 point 5 miles turn right, then turn left." (respectively of what I said before)
The most I've travelled with this unit so far is up and down half of the A5. What I'm most impressed with is how the unit deals with the huge roundabouts you sometimes come accross. First your told to 'enter roundabout, then take [fourth] exit'. Then as you go round it says 'keep ahead'. When you come to the correct exit your instructed to 'exit left'. Perfect!
The one instruction the unit doesn't handle very well is taking yourself off a road via a ramp. Usually, you're mostly past a ramp before it says 'take ramp, left' by which point you can;t and the unit says 'recalculating' and you're wondering 'huh?!'
A cold start takes about a minute and a few seconds. But after that cold start if you leave charged batteries in the unit it will only take maybe 10 seconds in the future to locate satellites at startup. Calculating routers in your own city or town will take about 5 seconds, but journey accross country (like from the Midlands to London) will take 1-3minutes to calculate. I think this is very reasonable.
There are loads and loads of ways to find POIs on this unit. First you choose 'go to', then go to 'hotels and more...', choose a category then scroll through all of the results that begin with the nearest and get further away as you progress through. You can also search through POIs by entering a site name.
Addresses are found in one of two ways:
(1)Enter postcode. Choose building number.
(2)Enter city. Enter road. Enter building number.
I think there are 2 problems here. First, what happens if you need to enter a name rather than a number? Or a unit (e.g. unit 2a) rather than a number? Then what happens if you don't know the building number? You cannot skip this step. This is no good if you want to get to a building allong the A5 but don;t know what;s near it and it itself is has no building number - you'll probably just be taken to the part of the A5 that is nearest to you!
If you subscribe to a special service which is mentioned in another review here, you can upload speed camera locations and thresholds onto the unit. The unit will then warn you of upcoming speed cameras and shout at you if you're going too fast.
All in all, though, a fantstic system that I strongly reccomend to those who cannot afford a TomTom. This system isn't as good as a omTom but pretty much matches the abilities of current lower-market competitors, apart from in media capabilitites because it doesn't have any.