The Garmin StreetPilot 2820 is
currently Garmin's top of the line auto navigator. Similar in
features to its predecessors in the 2000 series, including the 2720 and 2730, the 2820 adds the
capability of bluetooth cell phone connection that allows for 'hands free' phone calls
through the unit. With the optional GXM 30 receiver, you can receive XM
satellite radio and XM traffic abilities, although the XM receiver is not included in the package and is an
additional $250 and requires a monthly subscription. The StreetPilot 2820 lists on the street for $999. Check discount
prices here. The
2820 is a full featured GPS auto navigator, and includes lat/long
abilities, the ability to create routes and you can even input numerous
destinations and the 2820 will automatically create a route of the
shortest distance for all the stops you want to make. It's a great feature
for deliveries, etc. Overall, the 2820 seems to be a superior unit
with a lot of flexibility and allows you to customize more features than in
any other new Garmin auto navigator. It is not as simple to use as the small StreetPilots,
however I would rather have the option of using more features and
spending a few more minutes learning how to use it, than not have the
features available at all. The 2820 also includes other features such as
an MP3 player, optional XM radio, and hands free cell phone which are convenient if you do a lot of traveling.
Included in the 2820 package,
is the StreetPilot 2820 GPS Receiver, pre-loaded with
Navteq mapping data for all of North America, (it is the latest version
released, City Navigator NT 8) 12V cigarette lighter cable, with
speaker built into the cable. An A/C adapter cable for use
cable for transferring data, handheld remote control, owner's manual and a hard protective cover for
the screen. There is also a DVD data disk of the preloaded City
Navigator Version 8, including MapSource for use of managing waypoints,
routes, tracks, etc. A non-skid bean bag dash mount, as well as a more permanent dash mount is also included.
2820 is in the same size case as the other Street Pilot 2000
series units. It weighs less than a pound (.93 pound.) The
screen size is 3.3 inches wide by 1.7 inches high. The
2820 has a built in antenna and there is an MCX connector for
an optional antenna, such as the Garmin GA-25. There is an on/off
switch on the right hand side of the unit, as well as four function
buttons on the right side of the screen. All
other controls are made through the touch screen. There is no SD
card slot for additional memory, although there is about 800 MB
available on the hard drive for MP3 files or additional mapping.
There is a USB port on the rear and on the left side a 1/8th
inch 'mini' jack for headphones or line out, if you
want a direct connection to a car stereo system. Next to it,
there is a bluetooth phone microphone input jack used for
Bluetooth 'hands free' operation. The clip on microphone for your visor is
included in the package. There is no
built in speaker on the 2820, however the speaker is part of the 12V
cigarette cable and works pretty good.
View of 2820 with dashboard
mount Cable on left side is audio out and cables on right side
include optional XM Smart Antenna and lower cable is power connector.
There are both external
controls as well as touchscreen controls in the 2820. On the
exterior there is the power button, a rocker switch on the right side
of the unit. On the right front there are the following buttons:
Find, Menu, Map and Speak. These buttons will get you to
the main areas, although in most cases use of the touch screen after
accessing these main pages is required. I did find the external
buttons helpful, instead of having to navigate through the touch screen
main menu page is where all of the controls are. Pressing the
signal meter in the upper left hand corner will bring up the satellite
page. The bluetooth icon is visible if the unit is connected to a
bluetooth phone and headset. The "Where To" is where
you select where to navigate to. The "View Map" brings up the map page in
Find Menu "Where to?"
The 2820's find menu gives you numerous categories to choose from.
This is accessible by pressing the 'find' button on the right side of the screen or 'Where To' on the main menu.
Most of the options are from the included six million Point of Interest database for
businesses, found under "Food, Hotel..." But there are some
important custom find options.
They are Address and My Locations. Pressing 'address' will
allow you to input a street address and be routed to it. You will
be prompted for the state, then the city and then the house number.
You then input the street name, however do not add North or
South, East or West to the street name. You will be prompted for
The other options include 'My Locations' which allows you to
navigate, edit or save favorites. You can
be routed to your home with a dedicated button in the lower right hand
corner, save your own favorites, view your recent
selections, see your current location (in latitude longitude format) as
well as your own created custom Points of Interest (POI's) which are
saved in the "Extras" category. Read
our article here on the Garmin POI Loader for more information on
creating your own Custom POI's.
page shows you what a 'favorite' or waypoint looks like when you select
it. Pressing 'Go To' will create an autoroute and give you
One feature I really like is that there is the ability to get a GPS
coordinate, mark one or navigate to one. Unfortunately Garmin has
cut this feature out of some of the StreetPilot c3xx and c5xx series,
but it is available in the 2820. There are sub categories in most of the options. You can
also try spelling a name of a POI in the 'Spell Name' category,
although searching can take a couple of minutes.
Example of "Browse Map" feature available in 'My Locations' under 'Coordinates' lat/long of cursor location is shown in box
You can also use
the "Browse Map" feature, which I really found helpful. You can
drag the screen and zoom in and out to find locations. And by
pressing "Near..." you are given the option of "Search Near..." 1-
Where I am Now, 2- A Different City, 3- My Current Route, 4- My
Destination. Here is a breakdown of the Find Options.
You are prompted to enter the city first, followed by the street name
and then the house number. You don't enter in N, S, E or W. If
you are selecting an address outside of the state you are currently in,
you can select the state before inputting the city.
Streets & Cities
You can select a City, Street Name, Intersection, as well as Freeway Exits.
This is where you access your saved Favorites. You can also enter
lat/long coordinates in 'Enter Position" or you can Browse Map and
see the lat/long on the screen.
Food, Hotel, Etc.
This is where you access all POIS, including Search All.
There are several categories and then sub-categories to help you
narrow down the search options. For example in food, there is
'All Food' followed by American, Chinese, Fast Food, Mexican, Seafood,
Steak and many more.
If you load Custom Points of Interest into your 2820, this is where you
access them to either navigate them or view them on the map.
However with Custom POI's, you cannot edit the information, this
can only be done on the computer before they are sent to your GPS
receiver through Garmin's POI Loader. You can save them as a favorite though in 'My Locations."
This will list your recent finds, to make it easier to navigate them
again. There are also categories you can save them or delete them
This allows you to browse the map and even save locations you see as a
favorite. However in this mode there is no lat/long shown, that is
only available in 'My Locations' under 'Coordinates.'
This will automatically route you to your home (or another location you
save in your favorites as 'home') with the single push of a button.
However I also discovered that two quick presses of the Find key
will also automatically route you to your pre-selected 'home' location.
Pressing the "View Map" option will bring up the map. The default
is the 3-D "bird's eye view." It is set for auto zoom, but you
can use the + and - symbols to zoom in/out to the perspective you want.
You can also browse the map in this mode. Touching the
map will automatically throw it into 2-D (flat screen) and allow
you to pan the map around with your finger. It is very easy to
pan the map in the 2820. Once you have selected a route and
then used another feature such as the MP3 player, you must get back to
the main menu and press "View Map" on the touch screen or the "Map"
the right of the screen to bring the map screen back up.
When you are navigating, if you press a navigation field on
the right hand side of the screen, it will bring up the pop up
list of future
turns. When you are not navigating, you can press the speed key
up the trip computer. One observation I did make is that when you
are in the 3-D mode, Custom POI's show up on the screen on the 2820.
I have not seen this in any other Garmin unit, Custom POI's in other Garmin's only
show up when in the 2-D mode.
View of 3-D map above with wide
navigation fields, which are user specific. The music note
MP3 player is operating, the yellow square signifies a traffic issue
ahead and a better route is available. Pressing this icon will
bring up the traffic page and allow you to take the better route.
The yellow underline indicates a traffic issue on this road. The blue line shows you the current route to take. In the
2820, you can customize the color of the active route.
View of 2-D flat view above. You can save favorites and also pan the map in this mode.
Stop and Detour
When you are
navigating, a stop and detour field will show up on the screen on the
bottom of the main menu. If you want to stop navigating, press
stop. If you are stuck in traffic or hear of an incident ahead
you want to avoid, press the detour key and the 2820 will give you
options of how you want to detour by distance and automatically
re-calculate a new route for you, taking you off your current route at
the next available option. You can also hit 'Detour By Roads' and
the unit will bring up road options and you can choose which road you
want to take.
The 2820 has easy to use settings. These are accessible
from the main menu by pressing 'settings.'
There are six options and they include: General, Navigation, Screen, Map, Traffic, Bluetooth. Pressing "About" will allow you to see which software and audio version
your 2820 is running on.
This is where the main basic settings are and there are several
categories. GPS allows you to select WAAS on or off as well
as to set your simulated position if you are indoors and set the GPS
function to off. Language lets you select both text language as
well as voice. Audio has several options, such as if you want
spoken directions, the attention tone, touch screen tone and key press
tones to sound, as well as a feature known as speed adjusted volume.
This is a good feature that will automatically increase the sound of the unit,
when you are at highway speed and reduce it when you are going slower.
Audio is also where you specify if you want the audio jack to
send out headphone level or "Line Out" if you are plugging it directly
into a stereo system. Other features available include, Proximity Alerts, Tour Guide, Time, Units of
Measure, and Safe Mode. When the 2820 detects you are driving, it
from making adjustments to the 2820 as a precaution to keep you from
being distracted while driving. You can also set the 'safe mode'
to off. The
default voice for navigation is "American English Jill." There is also a
male voice known as Jack. The 2820 will give you 'text to speech
directions' (TTS), meaning it will speak whatever is on the screen. This
includes built in Points of Interest as well as your own favorites
(waypoints) you can save. And in our experience, the unit does a
great job of speaking even your own custom named favorites. If
you do not prefer to have the speech directions giving the names of
streets, etc, you can select "American English." It's
vocabulary is very limited, but will still give you basic
navigation directions. It's the same voice in the StreetPilot
There are several options in Navigation. You can also select the type of vehicle,
including Car/Motorcycle, Pedestrian, Bicycle, Truck (delivery) or Bus.
I did some experimenting while in the Demo Mode and the unit does
calculate different routes for different vehicles. For example,
in the bicycle mode it would not route me on interstate freeways, only
medium sized highways. You
can also decide if you want a route calculated for a faster
time, shorter distance or even off road. You can also set up
the next turn pop up,
and if off route
recalculation is automatic or prompted first. You can also select which 'avoidances' you
want to avoid, including traffic (if you are using the optional traffic
receiver, discussed below), U-turns, Highways, Unpaved Roads, Toll
Roads and Car Pool lanes.
This is where you switch the brightness control to Automatic or
Manual. Automatic uses the built in sensor to adjust the
brightness levels. This is helpful at night as it will dim the
also calibrate the touch screen here, however once we calibrated it, we
had no reason to re-calibrate it again in our month of testing.
Overall the screen brightness of the 2820 during the day is very good
and I have never had any trouble reading the screen.
The map options include choosing the map detail, ranging from 'most' to
'least.' You can also select a 3-D bird's eye view or the more
traditional 2-D flat look. The map options is also where you can
select if you want the screen to be 'day' which is light or 'night'
which is a dark or negative style screen. The default is for
'Auto' which means the unit will automatically switch when the GPS
senses it is either sunrise or sunset. You can customize
the Route Color as it appears on the screen, options include: Magenta, Red,
Blue, Orange. You can also select if you want
all other roads except for the one you are navigating dimmed out.
You can also customize text size, geographic areas, streets,
favorites, and map zoom level in this section. The map area is also where you can select from other Garmin map
products, although it is not recommended to use others such as TOPO.
However you can add the maps and use the 2820 as more of a map
viewer, rather than using other mapping products for navigation.
Traffic/ Weather Capability
The 2820 has the ability to get real time traffic, if you buy
an optional traffic receiver. You can use either the
GXM 30 which uses XM satellite signals and also allows you to receive
and news stations. Or you can use the GTM 12, which uses the
subcarrier from FM broadcast stations to deliver the traffic data
provided by Clear Channel, which currently services more cities
than the XMNav Traffic service does.
these units also require a subscription. (The GTM 12 includes a 15 month
subscription included in the price of the receiver) Note:
You cannot choose to connect the GXM 30 for XM satellite radio and
also connect the GTM 12 for traffic, if XMNav Traffic does not service
your metro area. Both receivers will provide updates of accidents,
incidents, congestion, road construction and other issues occurring on
interstate freeways and in some cases major highways. Problems on surface roads
are usually NOT included in the data. The data is updated during the day,
typically more often during heavy traffic times in the morning and
evening. Exactly just how often and timely seems to depend on each
city and the data provider.
In both traffic receivers, the screen images and the way it works with
the 2820 are identical. Here are some screen examples of what
alerts and displays you get with a traffic receiver. The traffic receiver will add a yellow line if there is a slowdown ahead and
provide a red line if it is a major incident.
The 2820 will also bring up a red or a yellow line underneath the roads that are impacted by traffic problems.
It will also offer to detour you in cases of severe traffic
This screen shows you the incident, giving you the option to detour around it.
XM Nav Traffic
The XM Traffic network currently provides traffic data
for 44 major cities in the U.S. XM traffic is
delivered via satellite, so you can receive the data anywhere in the U-S,
although the data is only for specific metro areas. This can
help if you are a couple of hours out of a big city and want to know of
any major issues ahead.
When you subscribe to XM traffic, you also get general weather data
included. This gives you basic current conditions from the
nearest airports, typically medium to major size airfields. You
can select which airport and can even check out the current conditions in
more than 2,000 locations across the country. You will get temperature, wind,
humidity, visibility, barometer, etc. This is updated generally
about once an hour.
I also found that when there is a storm
warning such as a severe thunderstorm watch or a flash flood warning,
you will get on screen alerts notifying you, when you are in the county
that the alert is issued for. There is also a 5 day forecast
available as well for 162 cities, which is a nice feature to have when you are taking a multi-state trip.
unlike Garmin's marine and aviation units which also provide radar images,
etc over your map, this detailed data is NOT included in the weather
data available in the 2820. But as you can see below, you will
get clouds, sunshine, rain icons, etc. to give you a general idea of
what the current conditions are.
You can learn more and see which
cities are included in the XM traffic service by following this link. Note: Even if XM Nav Traffic does not provide service in your area, you will still receive the nearby weather data.
The 2820 is also compatible with the GTM 12, the newest FM
traffic receiver made by Garmin, which you can buy for about $150 which
includes a 15 month data subscription. The GTM 12 is self
contained and receives data signals from nearby FM broadcast stations,
so coverage is linked to the range of the particular broadcast station
sending the data. Unlike other Garmin FM traffic receivers such as the GTM-10, it
being physically connected to a built in car radio. In
fact, it is basically nothing more than a short USB cable. The
receiver is powered
by the 2820 itself when you plug it in to the USB port. As far as
the GTM 12, it seemed to work very good,
however at times the actual traffic data including accidents,
other road hazards, seemed to be updated slower than 'real time' but in
most cases it was still acceptable. Renewing the data
subscription is only 60 dollars
year, so it averages out to be a five dollars a month for the traffic
information which seems to be reasonable. Note: In Europe,
this data is provided free and the only cost is to purchase the traffic
receiver. Click here to see the current coverage areas available with the GTM 12.
2820 is the first in Garmin's 2000 StreetPilot series to feature
phone capability. (The bluetooth is only for cell phone use and
does not allow you to transfer data, etc. This must all be done
through the USB port.) We found it
to work very well with bluetooth capable cell phones. You must
first "link" your phone to the 2820. Once the 2820 'learns' your
phone, the two will automatically connect thereafter. A
will appear on the right hand side of the main menu. When you
press this icon, it will bring up the Bluetooth options, where you can
set it up. You must either use the included clip on microphone
and the 2820's speaker or you can also link a bluetooth headset.
When you do this, you will hear the GPS navigation directions in the
bluetooth headset and not the 2820's speaker. You will also hear
the MP3 player through the headset (although it sounds like when you
are the phone and there is music playing while you are on hold)
but you will not hear the XM radio through your bluetooth
This screen shows you the bluetooth
options. It will automatically call your home (if you set your
phone number in your 'home' location in the 2820) with the single press
of the 'call home' option. It will also bring up your call
history from your phone, including all recent calls made on your phone,
not just those that go through the 2820.
When you place a call, the 2820 continues to navigate for you and there
is the blue phone icon on the screen. Pressing the bluephone icon will allow you to bring up the in-call
options. This screen shows the navigation fields in the 'Normal ' mode.
This screen will show up during your call. It will show a call
timer and to end or hang up the call, simply press. "Hang Up." The "Transfer Audio to Phone"
option allows you to switch the audio (both the microphone and speaker)
back to the phone. This is handy if you want to switch your
conversation back to the phone itself.
Pressing "Use Keyboard" brings up this screen. It allows you to
use touch tones, handy if you are checking messages and need to enter a passcode or have to press a
particular number for an extension.
The main menu page, with bluetooth and bluetooth headset enabled (top
line), while you are routing (stop and detour visible) and have
an active phone call (blue telephone icon).
Some phones support "voice
dialing" where you can speak in a name from your phone book or speak
a number and your phone will automatically do the dialing through voice
recognition. This screen shows what you will see.
You can dial directly from the included Point of Interest (POI)
database which lists addresses and phone numbers. This applies
to restaurants, hotels, businesses, etc. You just press
the dial option and the 2820 will automatically dial the call for
you. You can also hit 'Go To' and be routed to the location.
Overall we found the bluetooth hands free feature to work very
well and be handy for travel. Sometimes people on the other end
would say it sounded like there was a lot of background noise.
This likely depends on the noise of your vehicle. It did
not seem to be any worse than any other hands free type headset .
It worked well to dial from the screen and it is handy to be able
to actually access your phone's saved phone book through the 2820 to
make calls. I would typically transfer the call back to my phone,
after it started to ring on the other end.
I also like receiving
calls through the 2820. The number of the person calling shows up
on the screen and you can select "Ignore" or "Answer" If the
person calling you is in your phone's phone book, it will actually list
the name of the caller on the screen.
This screen shows you that a call is
active with the blue phone icon. It also shows the map in 'night'
mode with custom 'wide' navigation fields. Note in the top field
it shows my speed, direction of travel, the time of day as well as the
current address. This address keeps updating as I move, a very
nice feature that I think is very helpful in the 2820.
The 2820 supports Custom POI's. In this area of the options, you
can enable whether you can an audio alert for only POI's that are speed
cameras or for all of your custom POI's. You can also select the
type of alert you want. You can also set proximity radius in your
waypoints stored in your "My Favorites.' For example if you want
to be alerted if you get within one mile of your favorite restaurant or
want to stay away from something else and be alerted if you get too
close, use a proximity alert.
The Speak Button will always give you your next navigation point.
For instance, pressing it will give you a verbal direction for
example of "turn left in X miles" and also bring up the next pop-up
screen. This is helpful when you are wondering how much longer
you need to stay on the road or when your next turn or maneuver is
approaching. When you are not navigating somewhere it will give
you a "Ready To Navigate" message. Holding in the 'Speak' button
will also bring up the adjust volume level page. This is a quick
way adjust or mute the volume, especially
if you are getting navigation directions from the 2820 and you need it
to be quiet.
Navigation & Routing
The 2820 does an outstanding job in our opinion in calculating routes
and getting you to your destination with voice directions including
text to speech when the 2820 will actually speak the street names.
testing, the 2820 always seemed to calculate the best possible routes
and we never were led on an out of the way route. Of course with
auto navigators, they may not lead you on the same route you would take
if you know all the local roads and have favorite streets to drive on,
but in all cases the 2820 will get you to your destination. The
processor in the 2820 is fast and typically will calculate an average
less than ten seconds. The 2820 will also automatically
route for you if you miss the turn you were suppose to take. It
typically would re-calculate the new route, giving you enough time to
make the next turn, even if it is only a block a way. Finding an address and
navigating went quickly, and the 2820 typically searched less than ten
seconds. Overall we can give the 2820 a superior rating when it
to calculating a route and navigating you to the destination.
Screen example of Active Turn List.
Shows data about current route on the top line, such as distance,
ETA and a countdown to your arrival.
Screen example of 'View All' in Active
Route list, you can also scroll down and see every planned maneuver.
Pressing a specific maneuver will bring up a map page, showing you
what the turn looks like. A helpful feature when you are in an
area you are not familiar with.
This is an avoidance page. The dotted line indicates a custom area I don't want to travel on.
This is one of my favorite features in the 2820. You can select
certain streets and set up an avoidance area. What it does is
help you modify the way the 2820 creates a route for you, if the unit
typically wants to route you on a street or road that is
under construction, always congested or a street you'd rather not drive
on. The 2820 from then on will not
allow a route to be created over this 'avoidance' area. I use it
my way home from work, the unit always wants me to get off at the exit
before. I prefer to get off at the exit a mile down the road and
with this avoidance selected, the 2820 automatically skips this exit.
Another helpful use for me involves a freeway overpass that
was recently demolished, but has not been updated on the preloaded map
yet. So now that I have created this area as an
avoidance, the 2820 does not try to get me to take this
The 2820 in our testing does give good voice directions. TTS or
text to speech directions are available, meaning the 2820 will give you
the street names or exit numbers vocally, as well as on the screen.
The unit will prompt you before a turn to give you advance
warning. For example, it will say: "In one mile, exit right
on Exit 272, then turn right onto Washington Avenue." You can always hit the 'speak' button to be reminded of
your next turn both on screen and through a voice prompt.
The 2820 features several GPS related options as well as other
features. They are listed in the "Tools" on the main menu and include the
This is where you can access the satellite page for current GPS
Information, including lat/long and altitude. You can also get to
the Trip Computer, and the Turn List, which will feature the
current active route and turn by turn directions.
Pressing weather will bring up several options including a list of
nearby airports for current conditions, a five day forecast, a listing
of current County warnings such as severe weather alerts and an option
where you can view it on the map. Remember you must have both the
GXM 30 XM receiver as well as a subscription to XM NavTraffic to get
the weather data.
Through XM, you can also get updated information on stock quotes.
To do this, you add the stock symbol and it will give you the
latest quote. This is updated several times during the day.
This is where most of the GPS functions are accessed See all the options below.
The Routes page will allow you to
create, edit and also navigate a pre-determined route. 'Favorites'
is the same favorites as in the find button. Custom POI's in this area only allows
you to completely delete all of the loaded Custom POI's. The track log
is where you can turn the log on or off, reset the log, specify at what
zoom level on the map you see the track points and see what percentage
of the track log is already full. The tracklog capability is one of my favorite features in
a GPS, which will log your location (lat/long) speed, heading,
elevation, time of your trip. You can then download the tracklog
from your 2820 into MapSource and save it. This is nice if you
wonder where you were at a specific time, your average speed, the route
you took, how fast your teenager was driving your car, and where they
really went, etc. There are a lot of things you can do with this
data. And in the 2820, the tracklog has been expanded to up to
ten thousand points, which will easily log more than 1,000 miles.
The other 2000 series StreetPilots only has 2,000 tracklog points.
However there is no way to save a tracklog in the extra memory,
as you can in some of the newer Garmin handheld units (LegendCx,
VistaCx, 60C/Sx, 76C/Sx) Unfortunately Garmin has not included a
tracklog in 3x0 & 550 series and nuvi units. Home location allows you to review
your home location and edit the information such as find from the find
menu, find on the map or use your current location. The mileage log is
a nice feature if you have several people driving the same vehicle,
such as a delivery truck and each driver wants to keep track of their
mileage. There are up to four different mileage logs that can be used. (See Below)
The Music Player allows you to toggle between XM Satellite Radio, the built in MP3 player and the Audible Book Player.
XM Satellite Radio
Having used XM radio for the last couple of years, I really like this
feature. Having it built in your GPS first of all eliminates
another electronic device around your dash. It also makes it easy
to hear the navigation directions because the 2820 will 'interrupt' XM
programming to give the directions. To get XM Satellite Radio you
must both purchase the GXM 30 XM antenna and then a monthly
subscription. This is in addition to the XM Nav Traffic
subscription, however there is a combo package available if you want
both services. With the subscription, you get the option of more
than 150 channels of music as well as 30 channels of news, sports and other
programming. When you mute the music/radio
programming, this does NOT mute navigation directions, only what is on
XM. For more information on the optional XM radio service, follow this link.
The 2820 has a built in MP3 player and about 800 MB of memory to store
music directly in the unit. To get to the MP3 player, you toggle
between the XM Radio and Audible Book Player by pressing the "Source"
key on the right hand side of the screen. Each press of the
button brings up the next tool in rotation. The 2820 also has a
mini headphone jack to listen to the music or book on tape.
Overall we found the MP3 player to work very well. You can
play music at the same time you are navigating and it will pause the
song and announce the directions, before resuming the music (unlike
with XM Radio where the music is interrupted while directions are
given.) There is a mini jack
1/8th inch on the left side of the unit to allow you to directly
plug in an FM modulator
or direct connection to your car's stereo. You can play music
through the 2820's power cable speaker, but it is not in stereo.
for a book on tape, this works okay.
Audible Book Player
Allows you to download 'books on tape' and then play them on the StreetPilot. There are a few sample files included.
The volume control allows you to customize the levels of voice
navigation, XM Radio, the MP3 player and book player as well as the
cell phone calls. These are found in the advanced area of the
control. Again, if your mute the music player, it will NOT mute
the voice navigation directions. I found that I had to vary the
output percentages to make it sound the best. Here is what I
found, typically going through the car stereo: I had music
set at 80 percent, but the voice directions worked best at 40 percent.
The overall volume level I found to be the best at 80 percent.
You can experiment to see what works the best for you, but it did not
seem that running all audio levels at the same level worked as good.
Also remember the speed volume feature, which if enabled, will
allow the unit to increase voice direction levels when your speed
increases to make it easier to hear.
The 2820 does a pretty job
in satellites with its built in antenna. The unit does NOT
have the Sirfstar III gps chip available in other Garmin units such as
the c550 and the nuvi series. In most cases the 2820 did just
however I have lost satellite reception from time to time while
downtown area with tall buildings. This can be a problem if you
are in unfamiliar areas. Another issue is that for some reason
the 2820 does not have a "New Location" option in the GPS Settings as
does most other Garmin units. This allows the unit to get a
fresh satellite update. I found this was a problem because
satellitelso, when I did lose satellite
reception the 2820 did not automatically get a re-lock of the
satellites. Finally in every case, I would turn the unit off
and then back on and then it would re-acquire a satellite lock
very quickly. The fact the 2820 won't re-acquire satellites on its own,
until re-started is a serious
issue in our opinion, however I expect that Garmin can and will correct
this problem in a future software update.
The 2820 has a built in trip computer. You can log your current
trip and averages. You cannot change the data fields
however. This is handy if you are tracking gas mileage or how
long you are really stuck in traffic. And you can see just how
much of a delay those restroom stops add to your trip as well. You can
access the trip computer by pressing the speed in the data fields of
the map page, or pressing "Navigation" in the "Tools" section.
The 2820 allows you to load in Custom points of interest, speed and
redlight cameras and school zone warnings.
This screen shows you some of the POI's I have loaded in. They
include all airfields in the U.S., as well as the Major League Baseball
ball parks and the arenas for every NBA team.
This shows you the nearest MLB ballparks. Pressing one would allow me to navigate to it.
This screen shows Target Stores I have loaded in for the U.S. I
also created a bullseye custom icon. I have loaded in more than
23- thousand Custom POI's into the 2820. Again if you want to
more about Custom POI's, visit our article on the POI Loader by
visiting this link on gpsinformation.net.
The 2820 is compatible with Garmin's new Tour Guide. It
works as a Custom POI file, and uses audio files to announce
areas of interest. Basically when you get within a certain radius
of a location, it will trigger the audio file to play through the 2820
and for example offer information on a historical area. While the
2820 is compatible with this new
feature, so far there is little information from Garmin to actually use
it, but at
some future date, there should be third party MP3 files to download
into your 2820,
which will alert you to points of interest as you get within a certain
distance of the location. You can read more about TourGuide in our POI Loader article here.
There is a remote control included in
the 2820 package which can be helpful if you have the unit mounted out
of your reach, such is an RV or semi. It allows for several basic
functions. There is a small infrared window on the left side of the
screen which receives the signals from the remote. Pointing it in that
direction works the best.
connect the 2820 to transfer data, connect it to the USB port
the rear of the unit. The 2820
acts as a "Mass Storage Device" and this means that the first time you
connect it to your computer, it will have to recognize the 2820 and
install it. From then on, you will be prompted everytime you
connect the 2820 to a computer if you want it to be a Garmin unit, for
using MapSource or if you want it to be a USB device to load music, MP3
files, books on tape, etc. If you use it in USB mode, you must
disconnect it ("Safely Remove Hardware") from your computer. However if you use it in Garmin
mode, this is not necessary.
is a backlight available. The unit also has an automatic sensor
on the back of it, which will dim or brighten the screen depending on
night conditions. You can also set this setting to manual.
The 2820 is compatible with
which allows you to grab screen images and make modifications and
customize your splash screen. You CANNOT create
custom waypoints symbols and send them to the 2820, as you can with
other Garmin handheld units. For a link to xImage from
garmin.com, click here.
External Antenna Jack
There is an MCX connector for
an optional antenna, such as the Garmin GA-25. It is on the back
of the unit above the USB connection and includes a rubber weather
Garmin has made some improvements to the 2820 during our testing.
We suggest you make sure you have the latest unit software,
available for free from garmin.com.
Use Garmin's WebUpdater or follow this link.
Comparison with nuvi 360
Having reviewed the nuvi 360 just before the 2820, there are some
similarities of both units and I found some pros and cons to each one.
I was very
impressed with the nuvi 360 and would have thought that was the unit
for me, until using the 2820. From
my experience, it comes down to this: If you frequently travel to
other states and use rental cars, I like the nuvi because it is small
and very portable and also includes the travel kit features. If
you are in the same vehicle to do your traveling, I like the 2820.
Features in the nuvi that are not present in the 2820 include no
Sirfstar receiver, no Garmin Lock and no custom vehicle icons.
While the 2820 has XM capability as well as much more versatility
in setting up the unit and many more GPS functions. You can check out
our review of the nuvi 360 to compare the two units for yourself by
following this link.
There is also the new nuvi 660 with a wider screen. You can
read more about it by reading Jack's review by following this link.
Can I use the 2820 for hiking or geocaching?
No. The unit is best suited for semi-permanent installation in a vehicle.
Can you listen to the MP3 player without headphones?
If you connect the StreetPilot
directly to car stereo system. There is no built in FM Modulator
like in the 2730. You can hear audio through the speaker on the
power cable, however it is not really suitable for music (no stereo)
however it could work for a book on tape file.
Can I get a latitude / longitude reading and altitude information.
Yes, by accessing the
satellite page, by pressing the signal meter on the main menu.
Is the StreetPilot 2820 waterproof?
Yes, the StreetPilot is
waterproof to IPX7 standards, which means in one meter of water for up
to 30 minutes. However the remote control is not waterproof.
Is there NMEA in/out data capability?
Is there a card slot for additional memory?
No, there is not card slot for
additional memory. The 2820 comes preprogrammed with the mapping.
There is room for 800 MB worth of music or audio book files.
Is there a built in battery to keep the unit on?
No, there is no internal
battery. In most cases this is not a problem, but in some
vehicles if you have the unit plugged into a cigarette lighter
controlled by the key ignition, it will restart the 2820 when you start
the engine. However, you will not lose any saved waypoints, custom POI's etc, as they remain on the internal memory.
Is the unit powered when connected to the computer via the USB connection?
No, the 2820 does not get any power from being connected to the USB port, it is for data and the traffic receivers only.
Are there Custom Vehicle Icons, such as with the nuvi and StreetPilot c550?
No, the 2820 does not support this feature.
Areas for Improvement
1- The lack of a 'new location' option in the GPS settings to throw the
'Locating Satellites' would be helpful. I had trouble with the unit at first, because
as I later found out, it needed to update through a 'Locating Satellite'
reset. A symptom of this problem was that when the unit would lose
satellite reception, either in a canyon or downtown area, it would not
automatically re-acquire a satellite lock and I would have to turn it
off and then back on. To do a reset, you need to take the unit inside
where you can't receive any satellite signals. (I put some
aluminum foil on top of it.) Eventually I was prompted about
where is was in the United States. I told the unit it was wrong,
and it automatically went into 'Locating Satellite' mode and after that, I have had
much better reception and no problems re-acquiring when I lose a
satellite fix. Hopefully this issue will be fixed in an upcoming
software update. There is also no 'track up' option in the GPS
settings to see you direction of travel on the satellite page.
One other issue is that when you route 'Off Road' the 2820 for
some reason gives you only a 'course' heading and not a 'bearing'
heading. That means it shows a colored line from where you began
navigating to your destination. If it gave a 'bearing' reading,
it would give a line from your current location to your
destination, which would be much more helpful.
2- For some reason, the 2820 does not have the built-in FM
modulator, like in the 2730. While some users of the 2730 have
said the built-in modulator is not very good, this could be a
why Garmin left it out of the 2820. Another possible reason could be because of the
bluetooth features it was not possible to include it. It is hard to say if that
is why, but
it is a feature I would like to see in a car unit, especially for the
MP3 and XM radio features.
3- I prefer to have a built in speaker and microphone for the bluetooth phone option. However the power
cable speaker did much better than I thought it would, but you can't
route the power cord out of sight. The main reason there is not built
in speaker is likely to keep the 2820 waterproof, especially for
4- The manual is briefer than I would prefer. Obviously no
one wants to buy an electronic item and then have to read a manual the
size of the phone book to learn how to use it. The key is for
balance, but there are some details, especially about GPS functions that I
think could and should have been included. You can download the
2820 manual from garmin.com to look it over for yourself by following
The 2820 is by far my favorite GPS unit that I have tried yet. It
allows every possible navigation option available in Garmin's line of
auto navigators. And the
best possible feature also available in any Garmin auto
is that you can always answer down to the minute, the question of "when
going to get there?" with the help of the ETA feature. Having
tried out the Garmin POI Loader with several Garmin units, such as the
Vista Cx, 60CSx, c320 and nuvi 360, as well as the 2820, I have noticed
the 2820 does the best at sensing proximity points and speed alerts
within the specified distance you can customize in the POI Loader.
The other units sometimes miss the alert until you are almost
there, but the 2820 does a great job giving the alerts when it should.
As far as the unit itself, the default settings appear to
be set up pretty good, so if you are
not interested in customizing everything, the default settings will
easily get you started. Physically, you can adjust the unit's
angle to your eye level, by tilting it up or down when it is in the
The 2820 seems to be a very
good GPS unit, with other features such as bluetooth phone
capability and an MP3
player all in one unit. In our testing of more than 1,000
miles, we found almost
there is a negative
with the 2820, you might say it is the price, because of the
additional $250 required to purchase the optional XM
antenna/receiver. What it comes down to in our opinion with the
2820, is just what features you want and are willing to pay for. The 2820 is certainly the
full service model, especially if you enjoy GPS functions, such as
multiple destination routes, tracklogs and having access to a lat/long.
There is also the bigger screen size and remote control.
However, If you are just interested in inputting a street
address and getting routed there without any real GPS abilities, then the 2820 may be more than you
need and you can look at the lower cost StreetPilot c320 or c550 models. The 2820 is similar
to the 2730 except there are no bluetooth features in the 2730 and
the XM antenna is not included in the 2820 package. It is also similar in
features to the 2720 and the 7200, which has a much larger screen. You can
read Joe's review of the 2720 here and Jack's review of the 7200 here.