Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin StreetPilot 2820 review

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

Hot on the heels of the announcement of the newest StreetPilot, comes a full Garmin 2820 review from a motorcyclist’s perspective:

"The easiest way to describe this GPSR would be to say that it is the most competent motorcycle navigator I have ever used.

It is the same form factor as the previous 2xxx series Garmin GPSRs, which means it fits right into the Garmin Motorcycle Bracket, and uses the same power cable and other accessories as all the other 2xxx GPSRs. There are two slight differences with the accessories – the remote control is the newer version (same as the 27xx series), and the 12 volt adapter with the built-in speaker – the one you would use in a car, not on a moto – is also the same newer one with the more sophisticated speaker that was first introduced with the 27xx series. The 27xx and 28xx both feature true ‘text to speech’ – meaning, they pronounce the full street names – and that requires a higher fidelity speaker. The older remote from the 25xx series will work with the newer 27xx and 28xx products, but it doesn’t give you all the control that the new remote does.

The big improvement: A fully integrated Bluetooth system. You can pair your cell phone up to it, and also pair a Bluetooth headset (for example, a BMW System V helmet with the WCS 1 Bluetooth system – see the write-up about it here: BMW System V Helmet with WCS-1 Bluetooth Communication System), and voila, you have directional guidance in your helmet, radar camera audible warning in your helmet, phone audio in your helmet, and full control of your phone, including your phone directory, caller ID, even a reminder of phone battery life remaining on the screen of the GPSR.

If you get bored with all that, you can listen to music using the built in MP3 player, although the quality of the music is not the greatest when you are listening to it via the BMW helmet system. But… the 2820 comes with an audio in connector (and a tiny little clip-on microphone, for use in a car) and an audio out connector. I connected the audio out from 2820 to the 12 channel, 270 watt sound system in my Volkswagen Phaeton, and I was pretty happy with the music quality. Installing a 12 channel sound system in a helmet might take a bit of work, though…

Pairing up phones and headsets with the GPSR is very simple. You put the external device into ‘discoverable’ mode, then tell the GPSR to start looking. Once you have paired a device up, the GPSR automatically recognizes it and hooks up to it every time you go riding in the future – no further actions, button pressing, or attention is needed – it’s that simple. I could talk on the phone via my helmet in a parking lot, as long as I stayed within about 25 feet of the motorcycle. However – this is thoughtful – there is a touchscreen control that allows you to transfer the call from your helmet (or other headset) back to your phone, just in case you get off the moto and want to keep talking as you walk into the office, your home, a restaurant, etc.

Satellite acquisition is very fast, and the GPSR appears to keep a lock on the satellite constellation much better than previous models did. I have done about 1,800 kilometers of riding in the past week – Zurich to Dresden to Wolfsburg and back – and I never saw the ‘Lost Satellite Reception’ message, except for when I was in tunnels."

Compare prices on the Garmin StreetPilot 2820

I find that last comment particularly interesting, since the StreetPilot 2820 does not include the SiRFstar III chipset.

The 2820
is an update of the StreetPilot 2730, with the addition of Bluetooth for hands free cell phone use. It also gives you a choice in traffic information options — both TMC and XMNavTraffic are available.

Read the full Garmin StreetPilot 2820 review quoted above (complete with 14 photos). The full thread is here.

I’ve never seen a review of a newly announced GPS posted quite so fast. I’m not sure how this fellow got his hands on one this quickly, but my hat helmet is off to him for a great review.

Here’s what others are saying about the Garmin StreetPilot 2820:

I’ll be posting more hands on reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some other helpful resources:

Compare prices on the Garmin StreetPilot 2820 at these merchants:

From the official Garmin StreetPilot 2820 web page:

With preloaded street maps and built-in Bluetooth® wireless capability, Garmin’s StreetPilot® 2820 is the ideal road companion for your car or motorcycle.  Featuring hands-free calling, real-time traffic capabilities, MP3 player, audio book player, and an extensive points-of-interest database — this deluxe navigator has it all. 

Place hands-free calls with Bluetooth wireless technology

The StreetPilot 2820 integrates wireless technology with a microphone and speaker that lets you make hands-free calls on a compatible Bluetooth phone. Motorcyclists can connect a Bluetooth-enabled headset or helmet* simultaneously with a Bluetooth phone to the StreetPilot 2820 to talk hands-free on the road or receive wireless navigation audio prompts to their destination.

In addition, easily look-up and dial numbers from your personalized phone book or from your phone’s call history log. Don’t know the phone number for your destination? Simply find and dial it from the StreetPilot 2820’s extensive points of interest database — including hotels, restaurants, stores, and attractions.

Navigate with Ease

The StreetPilot 2820 comes ready to use out of the box with preloaded maps of Europe or North America. Simply enter a destination, and you’re automatically routed with turn-by-turn voice directions that speak street names. A fingertip touch screen interface, remote control, and 2D or 3D map perspective combined with the ability to arrange destinations to minimize trip distance make navigation easy. It also accepts customized points of interest (POIs) such as school zones, safety cameras, and LPG filling stations and includes proximity alerts to warn of upcoming POIs.

Avoid Traffic Tie-ups

Monitor traffic tie-ups with the addition of an optional traffic receiver. In select metro areas, with the addition of the GTM™ 10 or GTM 12 FM TMC traffic sensors** or GXM 30™ XM smart antenna***, the SteetPilot 2820 notifies you of accidents, road construction, and weather-related traffic delays before they are encountered, and then offers an alternate route. Simply touch the screen icon to calculate a new route. In addition to valuable traffic information, the GXM 30 and subscription to XM NavTraffic also provide basic weather information such as current conditions, forecasts, and Severe Weather Alerts.

Enjoy MP3, Audio Book Player and optional XM Radio

The StreetPilot 2820’s MP3 player, audio book player and optional XM Radio keep you entertained on the road. The MP3 player allows you to browse music by artist, album, and/or song.  Optional audio books may be purchased from which features over 70,000 hours of audio programs. A subscription to XM Radio along with the GXM 30 smart antenna provide over 150 plus channels of commercial-free music, sports, news, talk and entertainment programming.

StreetPilot 2820: Garmin’s full-featured GPS navigator for your car or motorcycle

* Feature compatibility dependent on helmet or headset support.

** Traffic services available in select cities throughout the U.S. and Europe. Subscription required in the U.S. and Great Britain. Free public service in Continental Europe.

***Traffic information available only in select cities in the Continental U.S. where coverage exists and requires an XM NavTraffic subscription fee.

Related posts:

About Rich Owings

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


  1. Shane Allen says:

    How can I hook my 2820 line out to my car stereo speakers. I am waiting for my GXM 30 antenna to come in but can’t figure out how to line out to my radio… I would thing the dinky little cigarette lighter 12v adapter speaker would not sound very good at all?

  2. Hi Shane-
    Sorry but I don’t know. Have you checked with Garmin tech support?

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