Dear Diary,
I'm back home! After a few hundred miles of scuttling between California ski resorts, seedy casinos skirting the Nevada border, and snowed out mountainous ranges between the two, I'm ready to declare Garmin's c580...not quite as good as its predecessor. That's not to say its not remarkable, however.

First off, it locks onto satellites in less than 30 seconds after power up— It's the fastest navigator I've ever had the pleasure of road tripping on. It's also one of the first navigators to utilize a MSNDirect over the air connection to grab regionalized traffic, movie, weather, and gas prices, sorted by proximity to you and your car. And like all Garmin setups, I can program in an address in about 20 seconds, which is pretty damn fast compared to the competition.

Yes, it's great. Except for a few minor flaws and one major screw up:

Number one on the list is useless MP3 functionality. Please, the GPS will not replace the iPod. Drop this function and give us a few bucks back. Secondly, the movie theater information is incomplete. In SF, the damn thing kept trying to send me to Daly City to watch 300 movie. Then, the most terrible flaw is that MSNDirect doesn't pick up data if you roam from your home region. This was most evident as I got stuck in Lake Tahoe for two days, as 5 feet of snow dropped shutting down highways, traffic crawled in Sacramento, while the little GPS hummed along like it was just another balmy day in California. [UPDATE: Actually, Tahoe is out of the MSNDirect coverage area. But Sacramento isn't. Garmin says the c580 should roam. Good! The problem is that the Garmin takes awhile to load up new data in a new area, and by the time its loaded, you might already have driven through it. Bad for road trips.]I sure wish Garmin would fix this flaw on an otherwise wonderful car-toy. Then again, the MSNDirect issue seems to fall in Microsoft's domain. Evil corporation, please fix, kthx.


If I were buying a GPS, I'd go for this model's predecessor, the c550, if you can get it for much cheaper. It's last year's model, but you know that list of nice things I said about the StreetPilot? The c550 has all of the good stuff, and none of the bad stuff. Until the Dash Net-enabled GPS comes out, the c550 seems like the one to have.

c580 [Garmin]