Garmin StreetPilot c550 (Traffic Performance) Review

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$499
Editors' rating:
Verdict

The Garmin StreetPilot c550 sports the simplest menu we've seen in our search for the best traffic-navigating GPS.

With its extremely simple menu structure, the Garmin StreetPilotc550 is a good choice for technophobes who worry that a GPS navigator will be too difficult. The main touchscreen presents large buttons for setting a destination or viewing the map, plus smaller buttons for listening to music tracks, setting options, or adjusting screen brightness. It offers 6 million points of interest (POIs) and Bluetooth for hands-free calling, but has only a 3.5-inch display.

FM Reception

The c550 comes with three months of free traffic information, which costs $59 per year afterward. We like that the FM antenna is neatly attached to the power cord: As long as the device is plugged in, it has reception. There's no messy wire antenna, as there is with the Mio and TomTom units.

Garmin StreetPilot c550 Traffic Information

The StreetPilot c550'straffic informationcomes from the Traffic Message Channel (TMC). TMC broadcasts over FM frequencies in major metro areas. Our c550 instantly began to pull in traffic data once we enabled the subscription. If you're navigating a route that has a traffic incident, the c550 gives you a verbal warning, and shows a traffic icon onscreen.

Rerouting

Rerouting is pretty much the same on all the devices: Click the icon to view the incident, and decide whether or not to detour around it. The c550 tells you what the incident is (slow traffic, construction, or something else) and what road the incident is on. Then you click to reroute and the device reroutes you. It doesn't give you rerouting choices. You can also view a list of all the incidents in your area.

Garmin StreetPilot c550 Verdict

The c550 receives the same traffic data as other devices, but does less with it. You can view maps of individual incidents, but you can't view a large map with all the trouble spots, as you can with the TomTom Go 720. You can, however, set the c550 to detour around traffic automatically. The c550 is a decent buy if you can find it at a sale price (we found it online for $279). If you're going to pay full price, we'd stick with the TomTom unit, which retails for about $50 less.


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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Wi-Fi No
Bluetooth Yes
Touch Screen Yes
USB No
Serial No
Size 4.4 x 3.2 x 2.3 inches
Weight 9 ounces
Company Website http://www.garmin.com