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Old 10-14-2012, 09:09 AM   #3
Long Haul Adventurer
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Joined: Mar 2003
Location: North Central Washington (state)
Oddometer: 5,994
Originally Posted by jondirt View Post
Garmin has this trick where things that you imagine should be easy are hard. Map data is a good example. You imagine that once you buy a map, its like buying an ebook - you own it and can use it on your devices. Certainly, if you buy an sd card map, then its fairly easy to move the chip from one device to another. But every time you want to open the map in basecamp you have to plug a device in and wait for the maps to be transferred into basecamp, which can take a very long time. Plus you may not have that USB cable with you, its easy to misplace those chips, they don't label the MicroSD chips, and once you have multiple maps you cannot merge them onto one chip... So perhaps the DVD option seems good. Sure enough, if you buy the dvd version, the maps can be installed on a laptop easily, and run nicely with basecamp, but the unlock code is tied to a single device, its $$$ if you upgrade to a new device, and you now have to transfer the map data to the device, which takes a long time. The download option is similarly restrictive. You end up with choices that all have subtle corner cases where none of the options give you a sense of satisfaction and freedom you expect.

The new Montana/350LM devices are much the same.

Montana is very close to being an ideal onroad/offroad device, but as an onroad automotive device its missing some features:
* Doesn't have a fuel odometer, or multiple trip odometers, or low fuel warning.
* Claims it is glove ready, but the onscreen layout has smaller buttons than the Zumo, hardly easy on the fingers.
* Doesn't come loaded with city navigator maps - unclear how to put topo and street maps on the device at the same time since there is only one chip slot (see above).
* Doesn't give junction previews
* No physical-buttons, all touch-screen buttons. I like the 550s physical buttons when riding for common functions like toggling screens.
* No avoidances support
* Bulky compared to the 350LM

Zumo 350LM appears to be a well rounded 550 upgrade, although they deleted the media player features of the 550. Still, it has cons compared to the Montana:

* Same road disappearance issue as the 550 (the Montana shows more details, important offroad)
* Screen is less bright than the Montana
* No Garmin connect support
* No custom map support
* No BirdsEye satellite imagery support
* Unclear how well it handles autorouting for routes generated in Basecamp that mix offroad, direct and autorouted segments

I haven't looked at the touch screen technology, its unclear which device is going to handle fine Moab dust better... they are both expensive.

Garmin seems determined to keep their devices differentiated enough to make both the Montana and the Zumo less than ideal as adventure gps devices. For now I'm holding off buying until I see a single winner that clearly beats my two device setup. Perhaps someone out there has some other research to share on this?
As it pertains to Garmin Map Products, you should only purchase the DVD. This will enable you to install the maps onto any computer and use them in BaseCamp without having to have the GPS they are also installed on connected. I don't purchase many of Garmin's map products (CNNA the exception) any longer as the OSM maps are getting very good in most areas of the world.

You might want to do a little more homework on the Montana and BaseCamp/MapInstall. You can load as many map products as you have space for (32GB is the max µSD Card supported). With installed Routable Maps, you can set Avoidances just like on the zumo. Although you won't get Junction View with the Montana, you do get Lane Assist as with all CNNA installations.

The rest of your comments are subjective and all opinions are valid. Using gloves with any touch screen GPS is a "depends" proposition. It depends on your glove size, your dexterity and sometimes a little better understanding of how to best interact with the display. There are quite a few DS/Adventure Touring riders out there with Montana's today. If you want a little more info you might try browsing the Montana thread on this forum.

Good luck with your decision.


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