Garmin has updated its popular StreetPilot c-series of GPS devices, which are now even easier to use thanks to brighter LCD screens, text-to-speech technology and the latest SiRF starIII GPS receivers. Its c510 is priced reasonably well against its competitors and it includes some of the latest navigation technologies usually reserved for much more expensive models.
The new c510 features a chunky and bulbous design that's too big to fit comfortably in the hands. The unit's measurements are 113 by 82 by 56mm and it weighs 269 grams. The front face is devoid of buttons, meaning most of the controls are located in the onscreen menus. The large 3.6-inch LCD screen allows easy to access to these controls, but some menus can get crowded, especially for large fingers. Garmin has upgraded the screens for its new c-series range and the c510 is now one of the brightest units on the market. The automotive-grade anti-glare display is still readable even in direct sunlight, while the maps provide good feedback and are simple to follow.
Customisability, such as the ability to change the vehicle icon to suit your own car type, is a nice touch; you can also choose to view the maps in either 2D or 3D perspectives. The c510 has 256MB of internal memory, but additional data can be loaded via the SD memory card slot. Other connectors include a USB port and AC power input. You also get a protective cover, AC power adaptor, USB cable and mounting kit. We found mounting the StreetPilot to a car windshield provided the most secure support. There were no issues with attaching the quick-release suction-mount to the glass surface, but Garmin has also provided a dashboard disk to stick the c510 to your car's dash.
One of our favourite features on the c510 is text-to-speech technology, which can read out loud street names in real time. The c510 also includes a handy anti-theft system with a four-letter PIN to lock the device in case it's stolen and has personal data onboard. The high sensitivity SiRF starIII chipset is one of the best GPS receivers on the market, providing fast GPS locks and strong signals even in busy urban areas.
Garmin has also made life easier by making the c510 ready to use out-of-the box. City Navigator Australia 7 mapping is pre-loaded and the database includes up to 500 waypoints with full customisability for the Points of Interest (POI) list. Users can add their own destinations including alerts for school zones and speed cameras. An additional feature is a Bluetooth connection, which allows for hands-free driving.
After switching on the device for the first time and logging in, the c510 managed to acquire a satellite almost immediately. The simple start-up screen has two main buttons: "where to go?' or "view your current location." Here you can also enter a menu for changing the settings or screen brightness. After entering our destination, the C510 took less than 30 seconds to calculate the route. This is very impressive considering the journey was estimated at over an hour and it was through busy parts of town. We found it a bit clumsy entering information as some onscreen buttons are very small, but the menu system is easy to traverse and very efficient.
When driving along we did notice instructions come out too slowly, often with the direction still being read out during the actual turn. Sound from the inbuilt speakers is very good, with voice prompts coming out loud and clear even at low volumes. The text-to-speech feature works well, but the system does have trouble reading some of the more colloquial Australian street names.