Review of the Garmin Quest GPS Receiver
Last updated November 4 2005

Most often I research all of my purchases with obsessive derision.  I research features and prices and try very hard to find the best of both.  This time was a little different.  I saw a unit that was robust enough for the car, small enough for the motorcycle, and portable enough for a pocket.  Rushing into an impromptu weekend fall foliage tour, I stopped into the local Best Buy the preceding Friday and grabbed Garmin's latest entry into the mobile and handheld GPS market, the Quest.  It wasn't even on display yet!

I spent Friday night charging the unit, glancing at the directions, loading the software onto a laptop PC and downloading map data into the Quest.  The GPS would help us meander through the northeast using little more than tertiary roads, and make it easier for us to find the interstate highways if we needed to make time.  Having a diabetic on board, we could also use the receiver to locate a restaurant of our preference when food became an urgent necessity.  With any luck it could also help us navigate the insane patchwork of roadways that make up the Boston area.  A few weeks later, the Quest would help us find our way through a 3,173 mile, nine day road trip from NYC to Atlanta to St. Louis and back.  The good news is, for all of this it worked fairly well.  Handheld operation may be a bit disappointing however.  Read on...

The (US version) Garmin Quest comes with 128MB of RAM (NOT upgradeable), a USB cable, three CDs including the "latest" North American version of MapSource, a manual for the software, a manual for the Quest and a quick-reference card, which I promptly lost.  Garmin will happily sell me the little card for $4.95 plus S&H.  No thanks, I can live without it.  The Quest also comes with a charging cradle and a suction-cup variety of automobile windshield mount.  This mount employs a cigarette lighter power cord with a speaker and amplifier circuitry built in.  The accessories fold and store fairly compact, as you can see by the photographs here.  This is greatly appreciated, as my never-ending love for gadgets makes my travel "accessory bag" grow more and more every month as it gets stuffed with various chargers, cables and associated widgets.

Of the 128MB of RAM on board, only about 115MB is usable for storing map and routing data.  This is actually my chief complaint with the Quest.  For another measly $10 of manufacturing cost, Garmin could have equipped the unit with 512MB of flash memory and increased the usefulness of the unit exponentially, without affecting the market position of its 2600 series units.  Or for about fifty cents they could have added a Compact Flash slot.  Back when Garmin was busy trying to sell us its overpriced proprietary memory upgrades, I may not have liked it but I could have understood it.  Now it just seems annoying and obnoxious.  No matter what the current state of technology, Garmin always seems to skimp on memory.

In my area, New York City, 115MB is just about enough to hold MapSource detail to cover at most a 200 mile, 270 degree travel radius.  In Garmin's home town of Olathe, KS the results are somewhat more encouraging, but still barely stand up to what I consider to be a "day trip" coverage area, extending through OK and MO, and parts of nearby NE, NM, CO, TX, AK and IA.  Or you could plan a trip to explore the CA coastline if you don't plan in straying too far off the straight line getting there.  For a weekend trip or longer, pack a laptop and the USB cable, or hope the built-in base map is sufficient for your needs.

The manual indicates that the supplied suction-cup mount should be used like you see in the picture on the left.  The idea is that the swivel part of the mount allows you to rotate the unit to be more easily viewable by your co-pilot or whomever.  Unfortunately this places substantial leverage on the single suction cup, and allows the receiver to bounce distractingly over even minor bumps.  I've found that the method shown on the right is far more stable, and puts the GPS receiver no nearer nor farther from reach, but obviates use of the swivel and causes a small amount of interference with your view through the windshield.  The visual interference is harmless though, and insignificant compared to the fuzzy dice, handicap hang-tags, toll transducers and heavens knows what else tends to adorn windshields these days.

The display is fairly clear and the small size is not much of an issue if your eyesight is OK.  As you can see, it is quite readable even in bright, direct sunlight.  An adjustable backlight operates day or night, and automatically shuts off after a configurable period when on battery.  If the receiver is routing you somewhere, the light comes back on when approaching markers and turns.  The receiver uses GPS time and your time zone setting to determine night versus day, and adjusts display colors accordingly.

The silver color of the unit, handsome and technically appealing though it may be, reflects visibly from my windshield.  I found it very distracting in the beginning, but like most irritating things, I learned to adjust to it and ignore it eventually  The picture on the right shows the reflection from the antenna.

A very handy feature is the top status line.  It lets you know what road you're on and what road or exit you're approaching.  In cities where there are no identifying signs in advance of major intersections, this is tremendously helpful for avoiding last-moment multiple lane changes.  This works full-time, route or not.

The speaker is attached to the cigarette lighter plug, and the assembly articulates so you can adjust the speaker angle hear it better, or to catch spilled coffee better, or whatever.  The plug and speaker are integral to entire mount, which costs a whopping $70 to replace.  So be careful!  The speaker over-modulates easily but can be heard clearly even in fairly noisy passenger compartments.  The female voice is very understandable.  Without the speaker plugged in, the Quest has no voice but does issue alert tones when it needs to offer you directions.

There are rubber covers over the antenna and USB connectors.  The USB cover doesn't close very securely.  Close inspection reveals why.  Notice the cover for the antenna connector, whose molding closes fully around the connector.  The cover for the USB connector only closes over three sides of the connector.  Though I've been assured that the GPS unit itself is waterproof to published standards and that no water will leak through or around the connector, I'm not delighted about the prospect of water ruining the connector itself.  Great, so a good dunking won't kill the Quest immediately but lots of luck when you need to download map data for the next leg of your adventure.

The receiver can become a bit confused at times.  Notice the thin line denoting my track, and how it is completely disconnected from the streets.  Part of the problem is that the map data is many years outdated, and a number of streets in this neighborhood are not represented.  The unit can't lock onto a street that it doesn't know about!

POI routing is a touch quirky. When I was navigating the parking lot at a Chili's Bar & Grill I routed to in Warwick RI, the Quest didn't realize I had arrived and politely offered to re-route us to the restaurant using a laughable 2-1/2 mile detour.  But at least it got me there.  When I needed to find a Burger King near Glen Echo National Park in MD, I found a commercial building that was several years old.

Routing in general can be a little quirky, sometimes making choices that are clearly "straightest line" over the chosen priority of "fastest route".  Or perhaps the software doesn't like the idea that a major highway or even a tertiary road that isn't within a 90 degree vector of the destination is not suitable for routing, even if it can save you fifteen to thirty minutes of travel time.  And/or it simply has a naive, fantasy-land impression of city roads that have the traffic lights magically turning green as you approach them, and the world pulling over to let you by.

A nearby case in point was a route from NYC's Triboro Bridge to Queens Boulevard and 67th Avenue in Rego Park.  Give a few strangers a map and they'll choose to go via either the Grand Central Parkway to the Long Island Expressway, Junction Boulevard exit (yellow highlight), or stay on the Grand Central to Jewel Avenue (green highlight).  The violet highlight reveals what the Quest thought I should do, which would be to take the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to Broadway (without any exaggeration at all the absolute slowest, most congested road in the entire borough of Queens), Broadway to Queens Boulevard (second slowest road in Queens), to 67th Avenue.  The Quest wanted me to travel almost three miles of roads which have a traffic light on nearly every block, most of them intentionally de- synchronized to achieve what the engineers laughingly refer to as "traffic calming" (clearly never having measured the blood pressure or heart rate of a motorist forced to stop for over a minute every 200 feet).  Granted, the side streets would have saved me two miles of travel or about a quarter the overall distance, but at the rather high cost of my sanity.

The good news is that the Quest would get me there.  The bad news is, I better not be in a hurry.

Having been to the Garmin home of Olathe, I think I understand the problem.  In most of Kansas, five cars waiting for one phase at a lonely traffic light constitutes a "traffic jam", worthy of heart-pounding anxiety and frustration.  By contrast, it seems perfectly reasonable to New Yorkers that it would take a half an hour to travel just two miles across town.  What the Garmin software needs is subcategories of secondary and tertiary road sections that indicate the frequency of traffic control devices.

The navigation proposed by MapSource on the laptop was no different, and turned up a completely different set of quirks.  The software of course can't know what direction you're "looking" when you place a waypoint.  So if you place a waypoint on a major highway as your starting point, it's entirely likely that the software will assume you're pointed in the wrong direction, and the first several instructions will be miles worth of detours to get you pointed in the right direction.  Waypoints en route on major highways often suffer likewise and cause the software to prescribe all kinds of insane loops when a nothing more than an off-ramp and an on-ramp was really necessary.

Finding addresses in MapSource is often more difficult than entering them on the Quest.  It tends to give you choices that are superfluous, where the Quest filters out the excess choices and helps you narrow down your intentions much more quickly.  Considering the comparatively painstaking work that goes into data entry on the Quest, this is a welcome advantage.  I wonder why the PC can't mimic it.

Getting back to the Quest, its navigation software is probably ignorant of altitude, as it happily announced the streets passing beneath me when traveling on bridge on-ramps.  I find it hard to fault the unit for this.  Frankly, it really amazes me that this stuff works at all.

Don't get me wrong.  For all my ragging about the navigation here, the Quest reliably got me to many places, and helped me follow some secondary roads through small town twists and turns and missing signs, where I barely had to even look for the signs.  I could plug in addresses a thousand miles away and get door to door directions that were usually faultless.  I merely followed the friendly digital voice emanating from my cigarette lighter socket.  What's more, you're never really lost with the Quest.  And if you want to get lost intentionally for a while, you can get un-lost whenever the need strikes.  In spite of the various shortcomings this is still pretty impressive stuff, and in a mighty small and versatile package too.

As for GPS receiver sensitivity, I may be imagining things but I swear this unit has a tougher time locking onto satellites when on battery power.  A few times I've stood next to the car, waited for an eternity and gave up, then popped the unit into its cradle and even with whatever interference the auto glass produces, gotten a signal twenty seconds later.  I've had the Quest and an old eTrex side by side on battery power and there seems to be little difference in sensitivity.  Frankly I consider that to be a little disappointing.  The Quest also cannot maintain satellite lock on bridges with lots of overhead metalwork.

There are some things that require getting used to.  Although the Quest's directions are sensitive to your speed (giving you proportionally more time to make your lane changes when whizzing at higher speeds), the stated distances can warp.  When you're doing 50MPH and the voice is telling you "in ... four ... hundred ... feet ...", well, it may have been four hundred but by the time you're interpreting the command there's only two hundred to go!  The distances are to the "elbow" of an exit ramp, often making it weird to feel out the proper exit lane, or the centerlines of the intersecting roadway, making complicated intersections no easier to interpret.  And then there's "keep right" versus "bear right" versus "exit right", which all require some interpretation.

When you reach the edge of the area for which you've loaded MapSource data, the uncovered area shows up on the Quest's display as crosshatches.  This gives me an eerie feeling, as if I've somehow neared the edge of the universe and that if I travel toward it I'm going to fall off into a black hole.

I believe the flip-out antenna could benefit from one or two extra positions and should be able to fold out flat (180 degrees).  The way it is, you cannot fold it all the way out and place the unit on a table, except precariously on the farther edge.  The manual does not mention how well the antenna does or does not function when not folded out, i.e. during portable carry.

The USB connection seems absurdly slow when downloading maps, running at about one third the speed capacity that a USB 1.1 hookup should be capable of.  Sluggish though it may be, it still beats serial ports.  While it is tempting to single out download speed as a serious shortcoming, it's not bad at all compared to how long it takes MapSource to assemble and index the maps beforehand.  On a two and a half year old 1.4GHz IBM T30, it came to an agonizing half hour.  It didn't take that long to install the software, three CDs and all!

Garmin claims the rechargeable battery should be good for about 20 hours of use.  Though I haven't tested that limit yet, my experience with battery life has assuring, even with liberal "new gadget enthusiasm" involving overly frequent backlight use while experimenting with all the menus and functions and showing everyone I know the gee-whiz stuff.

A serious potential worry with the Quest is that I know how rechargeable batteries can be.  If you're careless about the charge cycle or if you just happen to end up with a marginal unit from manufacture, or even if you do get a good few years of use out of it, I worry about the cost of replacing the battery when its life nears the end.  The flip side of the decision to employ a custom battery pack is that the unit can be made smaller, lighter and simpler this way.

I'd like to see a few extra things in the display screens.  Perhaps add sunrise and sunset times to the Information screen.  The receiver knows the times but forces you to alter the "dashboard" display to view them.  Also, unlike some other Garmin units this one does not adjust the time automatically when crossing time zones.

Finally, a few disturbing words about Best Buy.  As you may recall from the beginning of this review, I purchased the unit in somewhat of a hurry, and as a result I paid {gasp!} full retail price for it.  To me this is a cardinal sin but since Best Buy does have a price guarantee (see picture of actual sign on left), I was confident that I could finesse a bargain the next week.  I went to the store the next week armed with all the information I should have needed.  Unfortunately, the manager of the store must have just had an argument with his boyfriend or something because he started making up imaginary rules whose origin he couldn't prove, and he adamantly refused to obey the policy printed on the enormous twelve foot high sign in the store.

A return trip to Best Buy to a few days later was more successful and not at all aggravating, most likely because I spoke to a different manager the second time.  I was almost disappointed - I was psychologically prepared, eager even, for a fight and could hardly wait to subpoena the first manager into small claims court.  Regardless, my persistence saved me about $95.  The usual morals apply here... you can't argue with blithering idiots, buyer beware, etc.  Best Buy eventually came through but it took some work.  A policy is a policy - it shouldn't have had to require so much effort.  A big thumbs-down to Best Buy.

LONG-TERM UPDATE, OCTOBER 31 2005

Garmin must have taken my memory complaints to heart, since just a couple of month ago they introduced the Quest 2 which costs about $150 more (MSRP) than the Quest did when it was new, and includes the entire North America detail map database on-board and has 140MB available for downloading extra maps.  It looks and performs otherwise nearly identically, but adds a "POI proximity warning" feature that can be really handy for warning on approach of known "safety" cameras (among other things).  The literature for the POI feature indicates that you can also be warned if you're going too fast on approach of things like speeding cameras and school zones.  I've seen GPS receiver systems like this in South Korea and they're awesome, particularly on the long, wide, straight highway to Incheon airport which has a speeding camera every couple of miles.  Unfortunately I doubt Garmin will have the marketing prowess of Korea's Finedrive.

Getting back to the Quest though, I've been using it for a year now and it's been a delightful experience.  Unfortunately I didn't use it on my motorcycle quite as much as I wanted because Garmin was a bit slow getting the Quest's motorcycle mount to market.  Six months after purchasing the receiver I finally had a mount in my hands, but then it took me another thee or four months to engineer and produce (thanks eMachineShop.com!!!) a custom solution for affixing the whole thing to my motorcycle in a manner that lives up to my obsessive nature.

A couple of easily uploaded firmware updates improved the already good voice quality noticeably, and provided a volume control for the motorcycle mount's earphone connection.  I never experienced any software faults or crashes and never had the slightest problem with battery life, even with the display brightness cranked all the way up.  Routing was fairly reliable, detour capability was handy, but setting the route options to avoid "highways" seems to cause it to seek roads that are entirely un-numbered, leading to some rather insane routes.  I think an "Interstate" avoidance feature would be more enjoyable.  The display has been readable in the brightest of sunlight and the unit is so far holding up well to the environment.

In terms of portable usability I have found that the antenna barely works at all when folded in.  Don't plan on whipping the receiver out of a vest pocket and using it immediately.  You'll most likely have to fold out the antenna and wait for satellite lock first.

About 369 days after I purchased the unit, or about four days after the warranty expired (naturally!), the plastic around the antenna's left hinge began to break apart.  Garmin kindly offered to fix this under warranty anyway.

It appears that the cause of this breakage is related specifically to Garmin's Quest motorcycle mount, the top edge of which makes positive contact with the bottom surface of the antenna when the Quest is snapped into place.  This can cause impacts to the antenna during insertion of the receiver into the mount, very close to the hinge point, and any play between the mount and the receiver allows vibration to transmit more forces to the bottom of the antenna.  This transmits excessive pressure against the hinge, which stresses the plastic surrounding the hinge-pin, which in this case eventually caused that plastic to fracture near the end of the hinge pin where it is leveraged the most.  Cold weather could exacerbate the problem due to the plastic's flexibility decreasing with lower temperatures.  A simple remedy may be to make sure the antenna is flipped all the way up when snapping the receiver into the mount, and don't use the antenna's 90-degree position at all.  My fix was to shave less than 1mm of plastic from the top edge of the mount under where the antenna lies.  The first two pictures below highlight the trouble spot in red.  The third picture shows the modified mount.  I suggest other owners make similar modifications, or demand from Garmin a re-engineered version of the motorcycle mount.  I also added a pair of 1.5mm thick foam rubber bumpers on top of the mount, at the back edge, to make sure the antenna doesn't hit anything else hard.

Otherwise the Garmin Quest has been terrific.  GPS receivers are a wonderful thing and I don't know how I lived without it, and while maps definitely still have their purpose, I will never miss fumbling with them while sitting on a shoulder or in a parking lot, trying desperately to figure out where I am and how to reach my destination.  I plan to buy the new Quest 2 for the motorcycle soon, and since I'm so thoroughly enjoying having the GPS on the motorcycle, much to my wife's delight I plan to augment the car with its own, probably one of the larger units such as the 2720.

Garmin turned the broken Quest unit around in under three business days and returned it to me via second-day air.  I'm awfully impressed with their handling of the repair, whose summary notes that they not only replaced the antenna and made sure all the software was up to date, but also replaced the front bezel "for cosmetic reasons".  Apparently they weren't happy with the few barely noticeable haze marks on the LCD - and I really do mean barely - and chose to give me a nice fresh one.  Gotta love Garmin!  They also made sure all the loaded maps and saved waypoints came across during service, but the the unit was reset to factory defaults and all the trip stats were lost, such as the 746MPH max speed I had saved from my last trip on a Boeing 747 with a HUGE tailwind.

NOVEMBER 3 2005 UPDATE - QUEST 2

Four days after sending the Quest for repair I began to suffer from GPS withdrawal, so I rode down to Etronics and picked up the Quest 2, so I wouldn't have to plotz while Garmin fixed the antenna.  Now that I have a Quest 2 in my sweaty hands I'll spill all the beans, separate fact from fiction and read between some lines for you all.

With the exception of the front marking, the Quest 2 GPS receiver appears physically identical to its older sibling.  This also means that my few gripes over the physical design - the antenna not folding out to a 180 degree position, or the questionable seal over the USB connector - have not been addressed.  The Quest 2 weighs just a couple of grams more than the Quest.  It takes a sensitive scale to find any difference.

The Quest 2 comes with no PC -based software except for the USB drivers.  I consider this to be a significant shortcoming, since it would make life difficult for the many folks who like to do pre-planning, save and trade routes, etc.  The good news is, included is a yellow sheet with an unlock code for MapSource (that code is tied to the serial number of the unit).  The bad news is, no, MapSource is not packaged with the product.  And you can't download it anywhere.  The unlock code is only useful if you purchase one of Garmin's MapSource products separately.  Or if you use someone else's CD.  Not that I'm recommending you do that, of course...  As for me, I already have a CD from the original Quest!

The Quest 2 comes with a different, improved automobile windshield suction cup mount which Garmin calls a compact car mount.  The new mount has a larger suction cup, a shorter, stiffer arm, and a receiver mount sporting a retention clip, that articulates on a nifty ball and socket.  The new mount is much less shaky.  It's easier to get the receiver in and out of the mount, and easier to tweak the viewing angle in any direction now.  It doesn't fold into quite as compact a package however, and lacks the little Velcro bit that the original Quest included for managing the excess cable length.  And in deference to California, whose insanely bored legislators have outlawed the obviously horrible scourge of widgets being attached to windshields [CA Vehicle Code Section 26708(a)(1) if you care], Garmin now includes an adhesive disk to be used on CA vehicle dashboards, to which the suction-cup mount may be affixed.  Whew, I feel safer already.

I have a feeling that the inflexible mounting disk will be the source of much aggravation to the left-coast folks, since it's adhesive surface is as flat and smooth as plate glass, and I've never seen an automobile dashboard that didn't consist completely of textured surfaces with multiple compound curves.  Maybe Garmin can conjure up something to fasten the mount to a plastic Jesus instead.

The Quest 2 does NOT come with an AC adapter either.  The original Quest did.  I didn't catch that subtle omission when I was doing my comparison shopping, and frankly I'm no more pleased with that than I am about the failure to include a copy of MapQuest.  This also explains why everything was rattling around in the box when I bought it.  Room for the missing AC adapter!  The pessimist in me wants to think Garmin used the same size box as psychological tool, to avoid tipping off prospective shoppers.  Only the firmly suppressed optimistic side of me considers that it could be to keep production costs down.  Nah.

Originally I said the price difference could be interpreted as $150.  And of course the MSRP of the Quest has dropped now that the Quest 2 is around, so the current price difference would be $300.  Due to the current lack of an AC adapter (available from Garmin for $40) and MapSource software (another $30 for the most basic version), I'd say the real cost difference between the Quest and the Quest 2 now adds up to around $370, and more like $480 if you wanted a MapSource product that includes all the detailed maps that are built into the Quest 2.  That there's Big Bucks, kids.  And I'm not including taxes and/or shipping in these numbers.

The buttons on the Quest 2 are tastefully lit from within.  The illumination is subtle, barely noticeable, close to that of the luminescent numerals on a wristwatch, and the brightness does not change along with the display brightness.  What's interesting is, they were lit on the Quest as well.  I never noticed!  But it's now listed on Garmin's web site as one of the Quest 2's selling points.

In general, performance of the Quest 2 seems to be on par with its predecessor, in terms of display speed, sensitivity, etc.  The operating software appears to be largely identical to that on the Quest, but looks can be deceiving.

The unit was delivered with operating software version 2.10 and Garmin's web site indicated the current version was 2.40, so I decided to upload the updated version to the Quest 2.  For some inexplicable reason on my computer the driver software installed properly and the receiver showed up correctly in Device Manager, but the updater program refused to recognize that any GPS receiver was connected via USB.  Whether it had something to do with me still being on Windows 2000, or the bazillion other programs that are installed on my system, or the receiver being plugged into a USB hub instead of directly into the PC, I don't know.  But I wasn't in the mood to figure it out.  it was easier just to go to my wife's Windows XP computer, install the drivers there and perform the upgrade there, where it went flawlessly.

I've found that the Quest 2 snaps much more easily into Garmin's motorcycle mount than did the Quest.  I don't know if there's some variance in the case molds or if they actually changed the case a tiny bit, but the difference is welcome.  It does mean that pushing in the locking tab on the motorcycle mount will be much more important now.  I hope the easier fit doesn't make the assembly more susceptible to the effects of vibration.

One of the new features for the Quest 2 is the ability to load Points of Interest, or POIs, and the ability to warn in advance of their proximity.  There are many uses for this feature but since I'm notoriously lead-footed, I savor the idea of using it to watch out for revenue-cams.  Currently, nobody seems to have compiled interesting POIs for stateside "safety" cameras, so perhaps I'll have to create my own.  But those of you in nanny states like the UK will have loads of Gatso lists to choose from.  There are downloadable POIs for other highly useful things in the USA however, such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts.  At least I never have to worry about going hungry.  Becoming morbidly obese, on the other hand...

SIDE BY SIDE

Like I mentioned before, looks can be deceiving.  But a sign that something's different is apparent the moment you power up.  The Quest 2 takes a second or so longer to reach the logo screen, then after you agree to the legalese, the Quest says it's "Locating Satellites" and the '2 takes the more geeky angle, "Acquiring Satellites".  An English major might have fun picking this apart - as much as I like the GPS receivers I don't think I have room for all those GPS satellites in my apartment.  And it wouldn't be fair for me to keep them all for myself!

One of the first things to strike me is a change - for the worse unfortunately - in the FIND functionality, which defaults to "Find Near Me".  On the original Quest you can push the MENU button and change to the mode to "Find by Name".  This option has disappeared on the '2, and I miss it terribly.  It is still available if you find a city or town first,  but it becomes difficult to find things that aren't "near me" when I'm not certain of the their location, or if I simply wish to widen my search area.  There's no apparent way to either widen or narrow the receiver's concept of what it considers to be "near".

Under System Setup, the '2 now sports a choice of language for the spoken voice, offering American and British varieties of English, French and its Canadian variety, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Norwegian.  An apparent benefit of the built-in gobs of memory.  Also probably a benefit of the gobs of memory, is that the spoken voice seems distinctly clearer than it sounded on the Quest.

Under Avoidances in the Route Options, the '2 now features an additional option to avoid carpool lanes.  Interesting feature that triggers my natural skepticism.  I didn't think the receiver was accurate enough to reliably figure out what lane you're in, and I also have to wonder if the system is aware of lanes that are only part-time carpool designated, and if the receiver knows to check the day and time accordingly.  I tend to doubt it, since it doesn't know to change time zones based on location.

During my surfing through the menus, I'm finding things that Garmin didn't bother bragging about in the literature for either GPS.  Under Routing Setup, I never noticed that you can calculate routes tailored for car/motorcycle, pedestrian, bicycle, truck, bus, emergency, taxi or delivery.  The manual doesn't discuss the implications of the various settings.  Some things seem obvious, like keeping bicycles and pedestrians off Interstate highways, or keeping trucks and buses off of roads that prohibit commercial traffic.  And perhaps the delivery option manipulates your route to get you on the correct side of the street.  But I'm just guessing.  The rest requires more imagination that I possess, but I can take a few cynical stabs!

The map data (version 7 "NT" - whatever that stands for - in the '2 versus the Quest's version 6) does appear to have been improved.  For example, the fairly new roads around Trump's new condo towers behind my office are now more accurately reflected.  On the other hand, a nearby restaurant that closed two years ago is still listed, and the unit still thinks my uncle's house in Cumming Georgia occupies an empty field, five hundred feet off a dead-end road.

During some operations the Quest 2 seems to respond to keypresses a bit slowly - noticeably slower than the Quest ever was, and sometimes intolerably slow.  This must be due to the fact that the '2 holds at least twenty times the amount of map data, but bears mentioning just the same.  I'm still perplexed by the places the slowness crops up, like under Recent Finds.  What could possibly involve so much computation there?  The slowness permeates other aspects of the Quest 2's operations as well, frustrating attempts to dial in any destination farther than twenty miles.

The manual has undergone substantial changes.  It is now applicable to the original Quest and the '2, ten pages shorter, rearranged more logically, more straightforward, somewhat less detailed, and printed in a larger typeface.  Of course, who actually reads manuals, right?  And of course since the '2 doesn't include MapQuest, there's one less manual in the box as well.

The Quest 2 frees you from your PC for most purposes, but does so rather forcefully and at great expense.  Garmin has also reduced the portability of the unit by marrying it to a vehicle with a cigarette lighter socket for recharging (or for use without depleting the charge).  Since I don't fancy carrying a laptop computer on long motorcycle trips, I consider the value of the Quest 2 to be beneficial.  For automobile trips and portable use however, I find it difficult to justify the extra money except for bragging rights.

 


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