Garmin makes a zillion auto-specific GPS navigators, but so few for bikes that you wonder if were getting the rough end of the pineapple. Right now, Garmin's moto-intended lineup consists of just three units, but at least one of them is substantially new: the zumo 350LM.
The zumo 350LM’s ribbed, rubberized casing is weather-proof and provides a small level of
At $699.99, the 350LM is priced between the zumo 660LM and the XM-enabled 665LM, both of which use Garmin's older form factor. From the rounded-corner rubberized case to the rearrangement of ports and connections, the 350 at least looks new. The 330 shares the 660's 4.3-inch screen size and resolution. Its brightness suffices most of the time, though it will wash out with direct sunlight. A matte finish reduces glare.
Where the 660/665 units have a large wire bundle coming from the mounting cradle, the 350 connects to the bike with just two wires for 12-volt power. This makes mounting the harness much easier, though you must accommodate a small power cube in line with the harness. This converter is smart in that it doesn't pull current unless the GPS is in the cradle, so you can connect it straight to the battery if that's the most convenient.
The 660/665 models have USB, microphone, and headphone jacks on that external harness, but the 350 carries them (less the microphone connection) on the body behind rubber covers. Now, at least, connecting to your computer for database updates or loading routes no longer requires removing the battery door. The internal battery is rated for 7 hours, up 2 on the 660. Garmin has made room in memory for 100 routes where 20 was the limit for the 660. Additional data can go on a Micro SD card.
With the zumo 350LM, Garmin changed its strategy on Bluetooth connectivity. With the 660, you can pair the GPS to your phone and headset to make calls on the road, as well as listen to music stored as MP3 files in the GPS. Bluetooth in the 350 is limited to providing turn-by-turn directions to your headset. No more music, no more phone calls. This might be a blessing in disguise for many of us.
Two reasons to justify the cost of the moto-specific units are tolerance for wet weather and the ability to create and load specific routes. Most automotive Garmins can only take you to a specific destination, they wont let you preselect a route. Garmin provides software called BaseCamp to create and upload routes, but its also possible to create a route on Google Maps or Mapquest for use in the 350.
Alongside physical differences, the zumo 350 separates itself from the 660 with a reworked and more modern looking menu system. It's also faster. Large software buttons make using the 330 with gloves fairly easy--it's a touch screen with just the right sensitivity, so that pecking accuracy is good. Other features include Lane Assist (to make sure you wont miss the turnoff), a service-history log for your bike, a speed-limit reminder (bah!), and customizable data panels on the main navigation page.
If you loved having phone connectivity on the road, your'e not zumo 350LM material; buy the 660 or 665, both of which are still available. But if that feature isn't important, the new zumo deserves consideration.
|Garmin Zumo 350LM GPS
|Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars
|Improved form factor highlights a better, but not cheaper, motorcycle GPS. Loss of Bluetooth phone connectivity might be a deal killer.