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Sunday, March 18, 2012

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Garmin nuvi 2350LMT review

Garmin nuvi 2350LMT review

Hands on with the Garmin nuvi 2350LMT

The Garmin nüvi 2350LMT is one of the recently released models in Garmin’s 2300 series, which brings the best features from the 3700 series, minus the exorbitant price tag. They include a historical road speed database for improved routing and the ability to learn your preferred routes over time.

Like all models in the 2300 series, the 2350LMT sports a 4.3” screen (the 2200 series has a 3.5” screen; the 2400 series offers a 5” screen). If you ask me, the 4.3” is just right. LMT stands for lifetime map updates and traffic. The 2350LMT comes with preloaded maps of the US, Canada and Mexico, and includes Lane Assist and Junction View. Here’s how it stacks up against some closely…

Related models

  • Step up to the 2360LMT to add Bluetooth, voice commands and a dual-orientation screen
  • Going the other direction, drop down to the Garmin nuvi 2350LT and you’ll give up the lifetime map updates
  • The nuvi 2350 loses lifetime traffic as well
  • To see how the 2350LMT stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart

I’ll concentrate on newer features first, then a quick rundown of the more common features, before wrapping up with performance results and my conclusion. Here goes…

nuFeature: Speed limit adjustment

I’ve discussed this before, and I’ll refer you there for details, but the short story is you can correct speed limits when the device has them wrong.

Set-speed-limit

nuFeature 2: Via point data fields

Another new feature, is the addition of several via point options for the customizable data fields. You can see the “Via Arrival” option enabled in the top data field below.

Via-point-data

trafficTrends

Introduced on the nuvi 3700 series, this historical road speed database results in improved routing, especially in areas with routine traffic problems. I’ve seen definite improvements in routing behavior with trafficTrends models, compared to previous generation nuvis. These have included being routed on locally known shortcuts and alternative routes, routing me on freeways where older models would keep me on a parallel road, etc. I have occasionally seen some dubious routing, but for the most part the trafficTrends feature selects faster routes.

myTrends

MyTrends is a bit more complicated. It does a couple of things. One, it figures out routine travel patters for you (think home to work and work to home). Hop in your car and the destination is pre-selected. More importantly IMHO, is the fact that it can learn your preferred routes. Ignore the 2350LMT’s directions for a few days, take your favorite shortcut, and it should start routing you that way.

Here are some details on myTrends from Garmin’s support pages:

The myTrends feature is available on select Garmin products. When you save your regular destinations in your “Favorites,” your nuvi will, over time, begin to figure out where you’re going even without your telling it. Your nuvi will provide a predicted route which will display in the information bar at the top of the map screen. myTrends provides time of arrival and relevant traffic information in the information bar.

Please note: myTrends is a feature that does not work out of the box when you first begin using your device. In order to effectively use the myTrends feature you must meet the following requirements before myTrends will display arrival and relevant traffic information:

  • Your frequent destinations must be marked as favorites in your device, i.e. Home, Work, etc.
  • A regular pattern of driving habits must be established before myTrends will display on your device:
    • Daily regular pattern of driving takes at least three days of usage
    • Weekly regular pattern of driving such as a different destination on different days would take 2-3 weeks of regular usage

Example of myTrends:

Press the information bar at the top of the map screen in order to display alternative routes if one is available. Here you can press Go! to activate a route to your myTrends destination:

Once you press Go! the unit will begin providing turn by turn directions to your destination.

After you have an established pattern of driving habits your device will display a myTrend event within a two hour window. As an example if you leave work for home at 5pm each day, the myTrend event will display on your device as early as 4pm and as late at 6pm.

Powered mount

It’s nice to see Garmin putting a powered mount, one of my favorite features, on a mid-range navigator. Basically, this means that you don’t have to mess with the micro-USB connection every time you get in your car. I leave mine connected to a dashboard mount, and just throw the mount on the floorboard when I park.

nuvi-2350lmt-mount

Notable features from previous generation nuvis

Lifetime traffic

The lifetime traffic feature is ad-supported, which is a big turn off for a lot of people. But the ads are very low-key, and will primarily display when you are stopped or viewing traffic information.

nuvi-2350lmt-traffic-ad

nuvi-2350lmt-traffic

Customizable data field display

There are a couple of options here. Tap the left data field on the map screen to bring up a range of choices. These vary depending upon whether you are actively navigating or not. And if you go to Tools > Settings > Navigation > Automobile > Map Data Layout and choose More Data, you can shift the data fields to the right, picking up two more that you can modify, as shown below.

Via-point-data

Lane Assist and Junction View

Lane Assist (see below) is a very useful feature, showing you which lane you should be in. Coverage seems to be fairly extensive for Interstates, with some surface street coverage in large metros.

2350lmt-lane-assist

Junction View coverage, on the other hand, still seems pretty sparse. Expect to see this only if you live in the very largest metropolitan areas.

NOTE: The unit I tested was a first-run engineering unit. It accidentally had the 49 state map loaded instead of all of North America. Unfortunately, junction view coverage isn’t included on those maps. I’ve been assured that this isn’t the case with consumer shipments, but I wanted to share this with my readers and explain that the junction view screenshot below actually comes from another unit.

nuvi-2460lt-jct-view

Speed limit display and warning

Back to something with good coverage, you’re likely to find speed limits displayed for even secondary roads. And your current speed field turns red if you’re over the limit. Unfortunately, there is still no way to customize this feature to have it change colors at 5 or 10 MPH  over the limit. And as noted earlier, you can correct speed limits where you see errors.

2350lmt-speed-warning

ecoRoute

This feature adds a “less fuel” option to your routing choices and gives you fuel and mileage reports, estimated fuel cost for trips, and even a “driving challenge” to improve your fuel efficiency.

nuvi-2350lmt-ecoroute

CityXplorer

CityXplorer add on maps offer advanced pedestrian routing options including mass transit, though don’t expect it to route you as well as someone who rides the subway every day.

Trip log

The trip log displays a thin blue line showing where you’ve been. This can be enabled/disabled, and the trip log cleared, by going to Tools > Settings > Navigation > Automobile > Trip Log. You can also access archived trip logs for a record of your travels.

nuvi-2350lmt-trip-log

Where Am I?

You access this feature by tapping the car icon at your current location on the screen.

2350lmt-where-am-i

Multi-destination routing

The 2350LMT allows you to add multiple via points from Where To?, without going into the Trip Planner, but there is no route optimization option if you do it this way. To get that, you’ll need to use the new multi-destination routing format first introduced on the 37xx. Access it by selecting Tools > Trip Planner to create a route. Once a route is created, you can access the menu for the options shown below.

2350lmt-multi-menu

You can tap a via point to select an item and specify an arrival time and/or duration of stop. This is quite the useful feature. I plugged in the duration of several stops, the time I wanted to arrive at my final destination, and was able to easily determine when I needed to start my trip.

2350lmt-multi

While you still cannot import routes from MapSource, improvements in the interface have made dragging destinations to change their order much easier.

Navigation performance

trafficTrends does result in some increased routing time though; a trip of 150 miles took 12 seconds to calculate. While I didn’t see any significant lag for local routes, I did see recalculation times of 7 to 8 seconds following a missed turn on a longer route. Once, the unit got hung at 99% route calculation for 20 seconds or so, when calculating a long route.

Other than those quibbles, the 2350LMT performed well throughout my testing. I noted no other routing abnormalities.

Garmin nuvi 2350LMT pros

  • Lifetime map updates
  • Lifetime traffic
  • Powered mount
  • trafficTrends historical road speed database generally results in improved routing
  • myTrends learns preferred routes for routine trips
  • Customization options
  • Lane Assist
  • Junction View
  • Speed limit display, warnings and adjustment
  • Multi-destination routing

Garmin nuvi 2350LMT cons

  • Traffic is ad-supported
  • trafficTrends historical road speed database results in increased route calculation times
  • Junction View coverage limited

Conclusion and recommendation

Garmin has rolled out another winner with the 23xx series, incorporating the best features from their top of the line units and providing additional features, while keeping the price tag reasonable. There is very little here not to like. Highly recommended.

More Garmin nuvi 2350LMT reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…

Other Garmin nuvi 2350LMT resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 2350LMT at these merchants:

 

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

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