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Reporter overcomes car navigation system user error

During my recent Road Trip 2006 around the Pacific Northwest, I was carrying a veritable Circuit City's worth of tech gear.

One of the gadgets I had was a car navigation system from Garmin, the Nuvi 350. But during the trip I was unable to get it to tell me I was anywhere other than Kansas. And in talking to a Gamin spokeswoman afterward, it appeared I may have missed a crucial step in getting the device to work.

Road Trip 2006

So, when I wrote my post-mortem of the trip, in which I graded all the gadgets, I said I couldn't properly judge the Nuvi because of possible user error.

Well, it turns out the spokeswoman was right. She had said I had probably failed to raise the Nuvi's antenna, and that therefore it would not have been able to pick up the GPS signal and would thus default to its last known location (in this case, Kansas, where Garmin is located).

So, on Tuesday, after reading the latest issue of Via--the Automobile Association of America's monthly magazine--in which there was an article reporting on the best hamburgers in the American West, I decided to go in seek of the closest one to home.

Thus, there I was in my Subaru on Monday afternoon, zipping down Highway 101 south of San Francisco, following the directions to the burger joint given me by the Nuvi (now with the antenna properly raised).

And I must say, the directions were spot on.

So, may I offer my apologies to Garmin for not recognizing something as simple as an antenna. And let me say that the Nuvi works just as advertised. And it truly seems to know where it is.