So, I caved and picked one up before a recent trip to the Gap. I say caved, but really, I’m a gadget fiend, and I have used an eMap for the past few years for basic navigation – so it’s not a far stretch.

For me, the main drive for purchasing one is for its ability to find gas stations, hotel/motel accomodations, food, etc on the fly – we often ‘wing it’ when we travel, and give ourselves a rough idea of the area we want to end up in by the end of the day. Sometimes we go further, sometimes not, and often it becomes a ‘ok, we’ve gone far enough for the day, let’s see if we can find a place to stay’. Once while we were cutting across Wyoming, we found ourselves running pretty low on gas with no clue how far it would be before we ran into civilization again – it sure would have been nice to be able, with a few button presses, to find a gas station and how far we’d have to travel to get there.

I found a great deal on a Zumo 450 at Comp-U-Plus (currently selling for 519$). I’m a Sirius guy, so I didn’t need the added XM on the Zumo 550, nor the bluetooth. Both come with a ram mount and all the trimmings for wiring it up, City Navigator and a usb cable (which happens to be the same as my phone usb connector).

First impressions? Awesome. It did the ‘here’s gas and a warm bed’ job quite well (though I am sure most GPS devices work similarly). I was very impressed with how easy and intuitive the interface was. Very easy to navigate around the menus with gloves on, easy to upload routes and custom POIs (I will post a few POIs I’ve found for dealership lists, etc in its own section on the blog one of these days), and pretty good at coming up with routes on the fly (as long as you want highwayish routes). In addition, the waterproof case is sure nice – It rained a bit while we were on the road, and it was nice to not have to worry about pulling over to quickly pack the device up in my tankbag. Apparently, it’s bug-carcass-proof too, as it managed to repel junebug innerds without skipping a beat as well

As I don’t bother to RTFM, I need to go over the best methods of coming up with routes on the fly that allow me to map specific roads I want to travel – I’m sure its relatively simple, but I didn’t spend much time playing with it.

The Gas Tank feature is nice too, though it’s just an estimator which works against an arbitrary number you enter for your typical estimated MPG. About 25-30 miles before you hit the target number you entered, the device alerts you that you are approaching the threshold, then displays a small gas icon in the corner which shortcuts you to a list of the gas stations in the area – very nice!

Seriously, at 519$ you can’t beat it. Absolutely recommended by me.