December 13, 2005

Review: Garmin StreetPilot C330 GPS Review by GPS Lodge

Garmin StreetPilot C330The Garmin StreetPilot C330 is right in the middle of Garmin's mid-tier automotive GPS line. The feature set is solid, and only left me wanting for a few things. With its solid NAVTEQ map base and Garmin's experience in routing you from here to there, the guidance can be trusted to get you where you want to go. It's a powerful GPS that is very easy to use, and comes pre-loaded with maps and millions of points of interest. Just take it out of the box, turn it on and go.

Interface and Navigation on the StreetPilot C330
The screen is a bright 3.5 inch touchscreen display that is a dream to use. Overall, it is bright enough to see all day, and auto switches to a nighttime color scheme after sunset that allows you to drive at night without the thing blinding you with the bright daytime colors. This feature is configurable, and the brightness settings are adjustable also.

The interface starts with two big buttons, "Where do you want to go?" and "Show map". Pretty easy, eh? when you want to go somewhere you are given a bunch of options, but the most frequently used ones will be "My Locations", which include "Home", your list of favorites that you can add locations to, and recent selections that you have visited. It's easy to go back here time and time again, as you are constantly navigating home from where ever you got to. You can also type in an address with a simple touchscreen keyboard interface. The StreetPilot C330 assumes that you want to stay in your state, or gives you the option of spelling the state out. Next you type in the address number, street, and town. In seconds, you are calculating a route and you are off.
There are tons of other categories for the over 5 million points of interest (POI) that are grouped into categories: Food, Lodging, Fuel, Attractions, Shopping, Parking, Entertainment, Recreation, Community, Cities, Hospitals, Transit, and Auto Services. Under each of these buttons, there are often sub-categories. When you click any of these categories, you are also able to indicate if you want to search to a hotel near your current location, or a different city. This can come in handy if you are traveling to somewhere else and need a hotel near there, or something similar. One plus that is included in this extensive POI database is the phone number of the POI. HUGE plus if you are navigating to a restaurant and need to call while in route. You can always spell a name of a POI to find it, and you can let the StreetPilot C330 search through its database for a match. This can take awhile as it searches, and I sometimes got frustrated as I waited and waited, only to realize that I searched for the store in the wrong town.

When navigating, the StreetPilot C330 does not have the text to speech voice prompts like the more expensive StreetPilot C340. The C340 can tell you when your next turn is coming, while also telling what street to turn onto. This nice added feature announces the turn, and the street name in a fairly normal human tone voice. So instead of "Turn right in 400 feet", you get "Turn right on Maple Street in 400 feet". The StreetPilot C330 would just tell you "Turn right in 400 feet".

When you get a destination in as a route, you can also go and pick another destination to go to on the way to your final destination. So if you need to go to the shopping mall a few towns over by way of bank, you can have it take you on that route. This is a great feature for complex trip planning.

While you are trucking along, don't forget that hidden behind the speed readout on the left hand corner of the screen is a trip odometer with several key bits of information for the data obsessed like: Overall average speed, moving average, max speed, total trip time, moving time, stopped time, compass direction, current speed, a trip odometer and a distance to destination. While you are on this screen you can't see the map, but the voice prompting will still guide you, ""Turn right in 400 feet"."

A Turn by Turn direction screen can be seen by touching on the title bar at the top of the screen. This can give you a simple list of your turns and their respective distances, or by touching on the turn itself, you can see a small frame of the map, the turn instructions and the time the unit expects you to get to that turn.

Settings on the Streetpilot C330
The Garmin StreetPilot C330 comes with the usual configurable settings that you seem to set and forget about. The settings button is smallish, which is fine since I usual didn't find myself digging through there too often. You can set the map preferences - 2D- North up, 2D- track up, of 3-D, as well as the level of detail that gets displayed. Other settings allow you to set your route preferences (faster or shorter distance), what you want to avoid (highways, U-turns, etc), as well as the language.

Mount on the StreetPilot C330
I normally wouldn't mention a mount, but they have been a topic of discussion lately, and I have to say Garmin did a superb job on this aspect of the StreetPilot C330 design also. It seems like a standard mount with a big suction cup to stick to the windshield, but the power cable goes into the mount and not the unit itself. This is great if you want to grab the unit out of the car for quick programming or if you want to stash it under the seat (if you feel comfortable leaving the mount on the windshield). The internal battery allows you to pre-plan the route outside of the car, and when you are done, pop it back in the mount and you are ready to go. But wait, there's more! The release on the StreetPilot C330 is a simple push button release that allows you to grab and go with one hand, no fumbles and no drops. The re-mounting is just as easy, and it inspires confidence.

Hopes and Desires for the StreetPilot C330
There are a few things I would love to see in this unit, but maybe I am asking for too much. While I can save a destination, I can't save my work as a destination, always routing me via Starbucks. This type of feature is on the higher end Garmin Products, and on the TomTom GO 300. Another thing that would have been nice would be to simply touch the screen to start panning the map. This was a common need as I navigated new roads, and wanted to see where I was going to pop out up ahead. The panning function is buried a few levels down, but it's there. Much better to just start by tapping the map.

Summary on the StreetPilot C330
What can I say, I love it. I do like the C340 better with its Text to Speech turn commands, but the Garmin StreetPilot C330 is a great unit. The C330 is a great size and the touchscreen is a fantastic interface for programming your destination, and it's a perfect size to use. The underlying NAVTEQ maps (pre-loaded - no downloading maps when you travel to a different region of the country) are great and worked flawlessly for me, and when combined with the accurate navigation of the Garmin system, got me to wherever I needed to go. The voice directions are clear and accurate, while the interface is easy to understand which is important when traveling unfamiliar roads. I think that if you don't mind the lower level voice commands, this is a great unit.

Compare the StreetPilot C Series
There are two other C-Series models in the StreetPilot line that you can compare and contrast. If you upgrade to the Garmin StreetPilot C340, you get the text to speech capability so it tells you the name of the street to turn onto, as well as the option to add on the Traffic capability. This would require that you buy the GTM 10 antenna to receive the traffic alerts. Learn more at our article on the GTM-10review of the StreetPilot C340.

If you step down to the Garmin StreetPilot C320, you lose the pre-loaded map database, and instead load maps from your computer (via the included DVD) onto a memory card. Depending on the size of the card, you could carry a reasonable area of maps and points of interest. But if you are traveling around to a lot of different areas and don't want to keep visiting your computer to download new map areas, stick with the StreetPilot C330.

Read More in: Automotive GPS | GPS Reviews | Garmin GPS Reviews

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Posted by Scott Martin at December 13, 2005 9:34 PM

Recent Comments

I'm thinking about buying either the Garmin StreetPilot c330 or the TomTom ONE 3rd edition GPS and can't decide which one would be better. They are both being offered for around the same price, which is right at the top of my price range. This will be my first GPS so I have no past experience.


Posted by: Jessica at November 20, 2007 2:38 PM
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