Editor's Note: Portions of the Design and Features sections were taken from our review of the Garmin StreetPilot c550 as the two devices are nearly identical. Exceptions are noted.
There are a lot of new players in the world of the portable navigation systems, such as Averatec and Alpine, but one company that's been a constant in the industry is Garmin. With 18 years in the biz, Garmin has got the navigation basics down, but it's also looking for ways to build on top of those core functions. Enter the Garmin StreetPilot c580. The c580 is a high-end GPS device and is very much like its sibling, the Garmin StreetPilot c550, offering accurate directions, Bluetooth integration, text-to-speech functionality, and multimedia capabilities. However, the StreetPilot c580 also now can provide dynamic traffic and weather information as well as local gas prices and movie showtimes, thanks to its partnership with MSN Direct--the same service behind smart watches.
The service is easy to access, as the MSN Direct receiver is integrated right into the car charger, and you get a complimentary year-long subscription to the service. We found this added functionality to be very useful and helpful, though not without its faults. Also, the service isn't available in all areas, so make sure your city is covered before taking the plunge. The Garmin StreetPilot c580 will be available this month for $799.99. We should note that the StreetPilot c550 is only $50 cheaper, so if you can swing it, you might as well spring for the c580 and enjoy a free year of the MSN services.
Like the rest of the StreetPilot series, the Garmin StreetPilot c580 won't take up much room in your car. Measuring 4.4 inches wide by 3.2 inches high by 2.2 inches deep and weighing 9.0 ounces, it's easily transportable for multiple vehicle use and comes with an easy-to-install windshield mount. Garmin also keeps things simple, with minimal controls. There's a volume dial, a USB port, and a power button on the right. We especially like the external volume control since you don't have to fiddle with the menus to change this setting; we did notice, however, that it's a bit sensitive and jumps several volume levels if you're not careful. On the left side, you'll find an SD expansion slot and an external antenna port, while the power connector and the mic-in and audio-out ports are located on the back.
The rest of the functions are handled through the StreetPilot c580's 3.5-inch-diagonal responsive touch screen. The antiglare display is excellent, with a sharp 320x240-pixel resolution and bright colors, and it's even readable in bright sunlight. In addition, the c580's menus are easy to navigate, thanks to large icons and an intuitive interface. A new icon for the MSN Direct services, marked by the familiar MSN butterfly, has been added to the bottom of the home screen for easy access.
Aside from the aforementioned windshield mount, Garmin packages the c580 with a carrying pouch, a car charger with an integrated MSN Direct receiver, a USB cable, and an adhesive disk to attach the mount to your dash instead of your windshield. Optional accessories include a five-pack of changeable faceplates ($25) and SD cards preloaded with maps of Europe ($182.13 to $407.13).
The Garmin StreetPilot c580 offers many of the same great navigation tools found on the Garmin StreetPilot c550. It's powered by a WAAS-enabled 12-channel receiver, and all maps of North America with 2D and 3D map perspectives are preloaded onto the device. You get text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, as well as text-to-speech functionality, automatic recalculation, and a comprehensive points-of-interest (POI) database.