Garmin markets the Zumo series of navigators to motorcyclists. I originally bought it to use on my R1100RS in place of the GPS V that rode along bungied precariously to the handlebar. The 550 version includes an automotive windshield mount in addition to the motorcycle one. Trying it out in my Cherokee I soon learned that it would make a great replacement for the cumbersome Garmin GPS V/laptop/National Geographic TOPO setup that I had used while exploring in the Jeep for the past couple of years and had grown to dislike.
After 8 months of experience and several free firmware updates that added some key features I am relying entirely on Zumo for off-road navigation.
In order of preference here is what makes Zumo work well for me:
- Bright, high contrast display is easy to read at a glance under any light conditions, from high noon daylight to full moon, no headlights night 'wheeling.
- Touchscreen interface allows for small physical size- I can mount is where it is easily visible, but doesn't obstruct my view out the windshield. The unit will also fit in my pocket.
- Off-road tracks previously saved by my other Garmin GPS units can be uploaded and followed by Zumo.
- Map can be zoomed in and out and dragged around easily to see what is coming up.
- Zumo can run Garmin's topo maps as well as City Navigator.
- Lots of memory- 1gb internal memory as well as a slot for common SD cards.
- Auto route generation, including optimally ordering multiple destinations into a single trip.
- Has a battery so I can use it away from my vehicle.
- IPX7 waterproof rated, supposedly vibration and fuel resistant too.
- 20 seperate archive files each storing a 10,000 point tracklog memory.
- It uses the high sensitivity SiRF reciever that Garmin is phasing in to all of their new GPS units.
- Can display position in 40 different formats including 3 different lat/lon and my favorite, UTM.
Zumo 550 comes with 2 quick release mounts- a cigarette lighter adapter powered windshield suction mount that contains a speaker to give you voice guidance and a waterproof version without the speaker that uses the RAM mounting system to clamp to a handlebar with a u-bolt. Both mounts have seperate headphone and microphone jacks. On the motorcycle I listen to the unit with earbud speakers inside my helmet, the stereo in my Cherokee has an Ipod adapter that plugs into the vehicle mount headphone jack if the built in speaker is not loud enough. The supplied speaker has been plenty loud by itself.
I will take advantage of the snapshot function to use actual size screenshots from my Zumo to illustrate what it can and cannot do.
This is where you start.
Touching "Where To?" brings up the following two pages of options.
Note that on this unit, Garmin annoyingly calls waypoints "favorites". You are allowed 500. All search results, whether a "favorite", a route or a point of interest, will be ordered nearest to farthest as the crow flies. It will also let you search by name if you know what you are looking for, or browse to a different location on the map and search from there.
Once you choose a destination there are 3 options for navigating to it.
1) Off road: The compass display will show a direct bearing to your destination. The red heading bug stays at the top of the compass rose, while the rose rotates around to indicate heading. The red arrow shows the bearing to your waypoint.
Unfortunately Zumo will not give your bearing to waypoint in degrees. I found that ability handy back in my geocaching days when I would use my Silva Ranger to get me from my vehicle to the cache. Ironically when not navigating to a waypoint the red arrow is replaced by your heading in degrees.
2) and 3): Faster time, shorter distance. Zumo will route you on whatever roads are in its database depending on your preference. Choosing a single destination gets a route something like this:
Zumo will also order multiple destinations into a single route.
A list of directions given by the unit while in the boonies: