As little as eighteen months ago, the idea of adding GPS to your car was something only those buying a high-end number or able to afford a two-grand post-purchase solution were capable of. The introduction of GPS into PDAs forced a re-think of the market and now it’s possible to find a wide range of GPS devices suited to all types of user.
The Garmin StreetPilot C330 has been designed as an all-in-one that is mounted along the driver of a vehicle and unlike PDA-based versions, is not intended to be carried about. The design is similar to a device available from TomTom but where the C330 has an advantage comes in the form of the internal battery - so, should you wish to use it out of car, you can.
The 12-channel GPS receiver is as powerful as you’ll currently find in a domestic set, and took a little over 20 minutes to find a connection first time out of the box, once found, we found that a strong signal was maintained constantly.
It’s ready to use straight from the box as the maps come preloaded. To make things even easier, buttons and controls are kept to a minimum. On the front of the unit you’ll find the power button, volume control and a USB slot. You may be wondering why a standalone unit should come with a USB port? Well, it means the user can connect the unit to a computer, or add a memory key, to upgrade the firmware or even add more maps, as and when necessary.
The unit is compact enough to sit on the dashboard of a car but that’ll limit your view of the screen, so the supplied suction cup for car mounting comes in handy.
Possibly giving away the StreetPilot’s heritage is the screen, which measures 3.5in and offers a 320 x 240-pixel resolution the same as any standard PDA. With support for 16-bit colour rendering as well as being backlit, you can view maps in 65K colour. So, when it comes to interacting with the device you tap the touchscreen menu. On the downside, such screens work best inside a vehicle but less so in straight daylight.
With large icons and a straightforward interface, we found it easy to get going. When it comes to viewing maps, you can opt for a 3D version of the standard bird’s-eye view to make things easier.
As with all of Garmin’s portable devices, the MapSource City Select maps cover the whole of Western Europe and come with a full array of POI (Points Of Interest), including hotels, restaurants, petrol stations, ATMs, and attractions.
While lacking many of the features of more expensive, high-end units, the C330 is a highly usable and versatile solution. If your job means you spend most of the day behind a wheel, this is as flexible an option as it is affordable.