Product: Garmin Nuvi 360Manufacturer: GarminMSRP:
$965 (original)Lowest Historical Price:
If there is one product that has surged in popularity among the gadget crowd (besides the overplayed iPhone), it is Global Positioning Systems (GPS). GPS promises to be the holy grail of never having to ask for directions when you are in unfamiliar territory. Here we take a closer look at the Garmin Nuvi 360, a contender among the slew of mid-range GPS navigation products.SpecsHands-free Bluetooth wireless technology
Preloaded with City Navigator NT street maps
Text-to-speech capability reads real street names
320 x 240 pixels QVGA Daylight-readable display
MP3 player, audio book player (subscription required), JPEG picture viewer
Secure Digital Card expansion, USB mini plug PC interface
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
In The Box
As you open the box, you are immediately presented with the GPS unit itself â€“ free of any distracting accessories which are hidden in a separate compartment below. The accessories include charging adapters and windshield suction mounts (which are illegal in some states). The unit itself has a flip-up antenna that has been phased out in more recent Garmin products. According to the user manual, the antenna works best when it is oriented parallel to the ground.
I had the opportunity to put the Nuvi 360 to use in a slightly unfamiliar land â€“ the Hawaiian island of Oahu. If you've driven there before, you know that it can be an intimidating gaggle of unfamiliarly named streets (Kamehameha, Kapiolani, Keeamoku, Waiakamilo, et al). The Nuvi 360 allowed me to deftly carve my way around the island with relative ease, although the text-to-voice interpretations of the street names were humorous at times.
Basic usage of the Nuvi 360 is very straightforward. It has an extensive database of popular landmarks that you can find by name, or you can enter in a specific street address. As you type, the Nuvi constantly compares your input with its database and will automatically present you with a short list of possible street names based upon your incomplete input. Then you simply select GO and you're off. One difficulty that cropped up was in determining the initial orientation of the map. I usually had to drive a block or two for the GPS to know which way I was actually headed. The Nuvi 360 glosses over this ambiguity by simply stating: â€œFollow the Highlighted Routeâ€ as its first instruction to you.
Once you're on your way, the going gets much easier, with the Nuvi 360 clearly announcing directions and distances. Typically, it will announce your next move slightly in advance so that you are prepared to make the necessary lane changes and turns. If you take a wrong turn, the unit will automatically recalculate the best route for you to get back on course. Need to take a bathroom break? Use the Nuvi to find a nearby gas station or restaurant to relieve yourself. You can add the detour as a waypoint, thereby preserving your original destination so you can continue without a hitch.
While you are in destination mode, the top of the screen displays your next move, which is helpful if you forgot or missed what the GPS told you before. You can also have the Nuvi display a live map of where you are without any particular destination, in which case the display shows the upcoming street names. The integrated Bluetooth functionality is a welcome bonus, as it allows you to use the GPS unit as a speakerphone for your cell phone. If your phone supports it, the Nuvi 360 will also clone your address book so that you can dial by selecting the contact directly from the GPS.
The user interface of the Nuvi 360 is very simple â€“ it is intuitive enough that you can recruit your passenger to enter destinations (while you're driving with both eyes on the road, of course) without directly showing them how to use it. The onscreen keyboard layout is in alphabetical order and not in a QWERTY layout, which is annoying at times.
The Garmin Nuvi 360 originally came out at a MSRP of $965. If you look at the price history you can see that the price dropped by over 50% between January 2007 and January 2008, probably due to an intensely competitive marketplace for GPS (just take a look at the GPS Category). We've seen similar trends for other GPS systems, with prices leveling off at the $120 or so range before the product gets discontinued.
At the $250 price point that I got it at, the Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS is a tremendous value indeed. It has a brilliant daylight-readable display that maps your current location, the next move to reach your destination, the distance until your next action, as well as the estimated arrival time at your destination. The most rewarding use is when you are truly in unfamiliar territory, as it simply guides you to where you want to go without the need to pore over detailed maps. I also tried using it where I live in San Francisco, and it surprisingly revealed more efficient routes that I might take for my regular errands. It has also tried to steer me into a logjam of traffic.
Price History [History]