Garmin Quest

Garmin Quest
  • Garmin Quest
  • Garmin Quest
  • Garmin Quest
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Input custom waypoint coordinates, internal memory, waterproof

Cons

  • Cumbersome interface

Bottom Line

This tiny handheld GPS receiver includes maps, intelligent routing algorithms, an intuitive display, and can be programmed with custom data sources or integrated into enterprise applications. Quest is a good alternative to more complex location-aware platforms.

Would you buy this?

Companies such as Microsoft (with its MapPoint Location Server) are at the forefront of location-aware enterprise applications, using location data to build a customized data display or to give telemetry back to a datacenter or reporting system.

Those technologies are complicated, however, requiring service licenses and custom applications. In contrast, the new generation of handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) units, typified by Garmin's Quest, can be integrated into a client/server environment, either by downloading information from a desktop or notebook PC, using a built-in database, or connecting to a mobile device.

The Garmin Quest includes detailed, street-level maps, dynamic route planning, turn-by-turn directions, and customisable internal database. It is an impressive system, designed for field staff and business travellers who need intelligent routing and directions to specific addresses. Unlike many GPS systems, it can be integrated into business applications and easily prepopulated with critical business locations and resources. The Quest is a better solution, both in terms of cost and complexity, than Internet-based, location-aware systems.

Although the Quest can't run custom applications directly - its software is burned into the ROM - the 6-ounce device is much simpler to deploy for mobile workers who simply need driving directions, without all the bells and whistles of a centrally managed, enterprise-oriented geographic application.

The Quest expands on modern automotive GPS systems from Garmin with 115MB of RAM, which can be synched with a PC via USB port. The Quest includes MapSource, a Windows application that controls communication with the device; units sold in Australia also include City Navigator Australia v6, which provides the mapping data for all Australian towns and cities.

Garmin says its GPS is accurate to 3 metres, but in our experience it's closer to 9 to 15 metres while driving. That's sufficiently accurate to tell you which street you're driving on, but sometimes it misses a turn if streets are too close together.

The Quest's software offers generally accurate route generation. On a recent trip, when the recommended highway was blocked by an accident, we took an early exit - and the Quest instantly generated a new route. Later, when we accidentally went east instead of west, the GPS recognized that within a few seconds and quickly got us heading in the right direction. In other cases, Quest didn't choose the best route, but it did get us to the destination.

Destinations can be predefined in the MapSource software by clicking on a map, typing in an address, or entering a latitude/longitude coordinate. All three options are also available directly on the handheld as well, although we found keying city names and street numbers and names on the screen-based keyboard using a rocker switch and an "OK" button to be rather cumbersome.

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