"Fantastic for a SmartPhone rookie who needed true GPS"4.5 starson by fixitnate
Pros: GPS works regardless of phone service availability. Garmin GPS software integrated nicely with Google Maps and Streetview. Android OS means lots of apps. Vibration feedback for touchscreen presses. SIM card friendly (I came from Sprint).
Cons: No multi-touch for Google Maps (but yes for Garmin maps). Specialized Garmin version of Android 1.6 (released Sep 2009 and I hear they added a few things from 2.0+ before June 2010 Garminfone release) means hoping Garmin keeps up with updates. T-Mo.
Summary: As a general disclaimer, I'm a multi-generational phone jumper, so I cannot compare this to another SmartPhone. This replaced a 5-year-old Samsung Blade, the best phone I've ever owned to this point. I've never had a data plan past any temporary promotional offers and my phone has always been used for phone and text-messaging only.After a 1200-mile road trip:
After less than a week, the Garminfone has already taken over as my favorite phone to date, matching the Blade's "Call, Luke Skywalker, Mobile" voice recognition functions (better in many ways, not quite there in others) and full QWERTY keyboard for texting. That's more or less the extent of what I used the Blade for but I did also have a Dell PocketPC that ran Garmin GPS software.
The Dell finally puked after many years of use and the Blade started failing. After considering an iSheep at one point and being curious about HTC offerings over at Sprint (was a 13-year veteran with them), the Garminfone showed up. What drew me in was the true GPS-separate-from-a-phone functionality of it, which is something I was in need of. I'm not too hot on getting out in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal and, therefore, no navigation. GPS satellites are omnipotent, cell service towers are not. As I mentioned in the Pros, the Garminfone will work as a GPS with zero phone signal, you can even pull the SIM card to prove it. There is not another phone on the market that I am aware of as of this writing that can function like this.
As a bonus, there's the Android OS. Having dealt with Window Mobile on the Dell, I was less than enthusiastic about a Windows Mobile smartphone in the first place. And Android has proven itself a pleasure to use to this newb. The interface is customized, so it is not your standard Android interface, but it provides everything I need. The main screen gives easy access to phone and navi functions plus a shortcut bar with links to whatever you put in it. Slide that over and you get everything else on the phone, though only on one, scrolling page. You can make folders to gather like items. There's also a set of 5 "Widget" screens (is this Garminfone only, I don't know) that can be customized with quick information about running apps and status updates and a wireless manager, etc.
I can only guess at what might be standard for any given Android device, but there are several things I've found that I really like about the Garminfone other than the GPS. Use Wi-Fi where available instead of the cell service. Plug in via USB to a computer and choose between "Sync" (haven't figure out what that's for yet), "File Transfer" (gives you access to both the internal 4GB (a gig or two of which is taken by map data) and the MicroSD card as if the phone was a flash card reader), and "Internet Sharing". That last one isn't enabled by default, I found it in some settings and it basically turns the Garminfone into a broadband cell modem. Way cool. Haven't looked into it but maybe there's even a way to set the Wi-Fi to be an access point. As for "It's only Android 1.6", I haven't run into an app yet that doesn't run on it. And, unlike the iSheep, I can switch over to another app without having to close out anything. Fun stuff includes downloading a few files so that my GPS car on the display can be switched between the Millenium Falcon, the A-Team Van, a P-51 Mustang or the Blues-mobile, just to name a few. And, while we're back on the GPS, it does have "Lane Assist", which gives you a graphic of what lane you should be in at the 5-way, 12-lane interstate junction up ahead... as well as traffic services and detouring and spoken street/destination names and a utility to record your own curse-yourself-out voice prompts and... and... yeah. Also, insane amount of included accessories, including a home charger-slash-computer cable, car charger, windshield mount-slash-charger, another type of car mount, headphone/mic adapter
I don't like the 1-day-if-you're-lucky battery life. Not a big fan of T-Mobile service availability yet. No headphone jack, though it does come with an adapter to give you one through the USB jack as well as a mic. I don't like clinging to the hope that Garmin will keep up with the specialized operating system as newer Android releases come out.
But I love this phone.
Updated on Jun 21, 2010
Traffic avoidance is pretty loopy. Through Chicago, it was trying to get me off the highway and onto surface streets to bypass what it was told was heavy traffic but that was actually moving along at the speed limit. Finally turned it off and it stopped flipping out and took me straight through.
Also, in my admittedly not so quiet vehicle or if you have the stereo at any middle to high volume, the built-in speaker won't cut it to get your attention or to be able to hear it well. I have an external battery-powered "pocket speaker" from my last GPS that I will get more use out of with the Garminfone.
Was able to stream Pandora in strong signal areas while driving, piped through the headphone jack to the stereo, and the navigation voice cuts out the music when it has something to say. Nice.
Still very happy with it!
Updated on Aug 2, 2010I've never noticed that you cannot search your saved locations. You can, however, put each location ever saved into a category of your choice, then filter the list by category. I agree a search function would be nice. And this is definitely on the Garmin end of the Garmin-Asus duo.