This is not a positive review. Last time I got busted for ranting so I am going to try to focus on what the experience was not... whatever else.
I did a lot of research
a few weeks ago and decided that the Garmin
276 was the GPS
for me. It had all the cool stuff I wanted and was just out of production so I could get it "cheap". I was briefly tempted by the 376c because of its XM receiver. For 50 bucks a month you get XM weather
and XM radio
. Currently I get a lot of joy out of Sirius radio
so it sounded pretty good. Turns out the XM weather
is only really good for the US so not really valuable cruising- 276 it is.
I shopped eBay and CL and elsewhere on the Internet
and it seemed that I could get a questionable unit from a pawn shop for 200-275, a refurb
unit at 350, or, a clerk at West Marine
told me that the chain had a handful units left and that she could get it for 219 or something insane. She was going to have to order it from another store, I filled out forms, I waited, I didn't hear back, I called her and was told "oh yeah, I was wrong sorry" no GPS
. Meanwhile the eBay prices had moved up to 370. Not sure why.
I stalled a couple more weeks and then ordered one for 369.90 with free shipping
but paid 16 more for 2 day service
. I did this so I could have it for my first blue water
sea trial. Then I went into West Marine
to buy the chart pack.
I was pretty confused about the exact mechanics involved with the CD purchase
vs. the preloaded data-card and so I spoke with the manager of that store. He "thought" that the GPS would use some kind of standard memory like an SD card. Explained the unlocking from the CD. Fine. I paid 139 for the Americas CD.
I wouldn't get the GPS until the next day but was very excited and decided to install the software
on my laptop
. I thought it would be fun to plot my route
and so forth. I go through the entire install, including creating an account with Garmin
, and then am asked to input the serial
number of my device. I don't have the device- the install is cancelled. 20 minutes lost
I bumped into a guy from my dock
who uses the same GPS and he raved about how great it was and took me to his boat to show his off. It seemed very nice and through the conversation it came out that it does not use a standard memory type but a Garmin proprietary chip. So today I go to West Marine to give them more money
but they do not carry the chip.
I called around and eventually found a store that sells car GPS systems that had ONE card in stock. 512mb for TWO HUNDRED AND FIVE DOLLARS. My 370 dollar GPS was now a 575 dollar GPS without the charts
Sidebar, FEDEX didn't deliver the package and I had to go to the distribution center to collect the GPS. All told I spent 4 hours in the car doing GPS related ****. At one point the temp inside the car was 112 but it was mostly 105.
I get home, unpack the box, and try to get it all working. The install on the laptop
crashes out the first time so I run it again. The power cord for the GPS pops out if you even look at it wrong. I eventually get to the screen
that wants the serial
number. I am given the choice of typing it in or getting it automatically. To do this you connect the USB cable. So I connect it. The GPS says "USB CONNECTED" the laptop says "NEW USB DEVICE FOUND" the Garmin installer says "cannot locate a device". Fine, I enter it by hand.
Now it wants me to unlock my region. I select one of the 12 regions shown (US021 I think- the SF to Cabo one) and it then shows me that region broken into 3 parts
and wants me to pick one. What the? I review the package and there is NO REASON to believe I was getting anything smaller than SF to Cabo. Actually, it is a bit bigger than that. I select a sub region anyway and it proceeds to ask me to select another region SIX TIMES before giving me the choice to choose US021 again. It appeared to install the right thing- I have no idea what that step accomplished.
It then says there are updates- do I want to get them- I select yes. It opens a browser to a page to select an auto map product to update and it informs me I don't have any products that require updating. Later, from within the software
itself I chose to update and it downloaded and installed something. The install process was so bad I cannot believe it.
Finally, I am looking at the charts
on my laptop. I browse around for a minute and then- crash.
Dude. I start it again.
Five minutes- crash.
This happened three more times and then it stopped- I am not sure if it got itself in order or if it is because I started looking at a different part of the chart.
Then I noticed the depth
information from the chart had disappeared. I could still hover the mouse and get pixel specific info- but the soundings you would see on a chart had disappeared. I spent about 30 minutes trying to find an option to return them- no good. Oh! And the chart shows the old data for my marina. The guy from my dock
showed me his and it had the right data. So even though I "updated" and it said there was nothing left to download- I have old information.
During this time the GPS itself told me it lost
its satalite connection several times. I am hoping that is an "in a house" problem.
Now, after I bought the unit but before I recieved it, I got a very salesy email
from the selling store trying to upsell a warranty to me. In the ad was a link to Garmin's site- the page that tells how they do the refurbishing process. That page indicates the refurbished units come with a 1 year warranty. There was no information in the box about a warranty and the box was not sealed. I think the selling store removes it and tries to sell thier own.
Anyway, the highlights are:
I paid about 50% more than I thought I had to to get the unit to actually do what I wanted it to.
The software crashes.
The chart is outdated.
The power cord won't stay in the unit.
The unit may have trouble tracking satalites (jury still out).
The eBay store may be trying to trick me into buying
Tomorrow morning I will call Garmin and see if I can straighten some of this out.
I will let you know how it goes.