Noticeably missing from the Quest, however, is an expansion slot for carrying extra maps. Although the Quest's 115MB of internal memory is more than you'll find in most handheld systems, it suffers from the lack of a CompactFlash or SD memory card slot or a miniature hard drive for storing additional mapping data. For example, a street-level map for the state of California requires more than 122MB of memory; if you're planning a trip from Glendale to San Diego, you'll have to delete and reload maps along the way.The Garmin Quest uses a 12-channel, WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System)-enabled receiver and comes with built-in base maps of North America. The package includes Garmin's City Select North America street-level mapping software, a USB cable, an A/C power adapter, a 12-volt power adapter with speaker, reference manuals, and a mounting device. Unlike many of today's vehicle-navigation systems, such as the TomTom GO and the Garmin StreetPilot 2620, the Quest doesn't have a hard drive, so you'll have to load the mapping software on a PC before you can download street-level maps to the unit. However, you can preplan trips and save up to 50 routes before transferring them to the device, and City Select gives you more than 5 million points of interest, including campgrounds, movie theaters, schools, hotels, restaurants, and more. The Quest can store up to 500 waypoints with identifying icons and comments, and you can add up to 254 via points (extra stops along your route), and the Quest will calculate them to obtain the most efficient route, a particularly helpful feature for field-service personnel looking to minimize their driving time.
Voice-guided driving directions are available only when the 12-volt power/speaker adapter is used, but text-based directions are displayed whether you're driving or walking. The Quest also displays the usual GPS features, including speed, trip time, odometer, satellite status, direction heading, and battery power. By adding optional MapSource programs such as BlueChart marine and TOPO outdoor-mapping software, the Quest can become a highly portable hiking or boating navigation aid. We've come to expect pinpoint accuracy from Garmin GPS receivers, and the Quest delivered, tracking our progress in the car and on foot without skipping a beat. We tested the device in New York, and the first time we fired up the Quest, it took a little more than a minute to acquire a 3D satellite fix, but subsequent tries took around 20 seconds. Once we were locked in, we lost reception only once, for about 10 seconds, while driving through midtown Manhattan. We also took the Garmin Quest along on a hike through a heavily wooded park and were pleased with the results; our signal stayed strong through most of the hike, fading in only the densest part of the woods. The audible driving directions were clear and spot-on, as were the text-based directions.
Our only gripe is a minor one: the screen is on the small side, so be sure to mount the Quest in a place where it is easy to see if you want to view street names and addresses. The rechargeable internal lithium-ion battery is rated for approximately 20 hours under normal use. In our tests, we managed close to 15 hours of battery time with occasional use of backlighting, which is more than we expected since backlighting is a huge battery drain.