Garmin zumo 550 -Auto Routing, Traffic, Bluetooth Phone and Headset
Specifically Designed for a Motor Bike Installation
For questions about this product, log onto the FORUM
Return to Home Page ° Text by jack yeazel
(14 Jan. 2007 -Add XM Radio Screens)
(2 March 2007 -Update Review with Latest Firmware)
(11 June 2007 -Add Creating a Route by Driving)
(9 Oct. 2012 -This review translated into the Serbo-Croatian language (HERE)

Four of the Five 'Squeeze Buttons' Designed for  Operating with Gloves are Shown on the Left Side.
In the Back of the zumo is an External Antenna Jack and the Battery Compartment.

Some of the changes upgrading from v. 2.50 to 3.10:
The moving map can now be panned.
The Tracklog can now be displayed.
Added a "Manage Trip Log" function.
Favorites waypoints can now be seen with zooms farther out than 300 ft.
More fields are added to the Trip Computer.
Added option to limit BT headset audio to phone only.
(The "Audio" selection provides "Navigation, MP3, Phone" -or, "Phone Only")
Corrected unit shutdown related to map drawing.
Corrected position of the traffic alert button on main map.
Enabled compass display full time with additional data fields.
Added support for SDHC cards and increased MP3 playlist limit to 1000 songs.
Disabled auto-zoom operation when off-road.
Updated US/Canada Daylight Saving time support.
Corrected shutdown when entering more than 4 vias.
Corrected issue preventing conversion of tracks to routes in southern hemisphere.

This unit closely resembles the Garmin StreetPilot c550.  It has the same screen, similar operating system, glove-friendly touch screen, shape, and size.  It's heavier due to a 'beefed-up' construction to endure a motor bike environment.  The unit comes with a simple cigarette-lighter power cord and not the GTM-20 FM TMC traffic receiver power cord supplied with the SP c550 and nüvi 660.  However, either FM or XM Traffic is supported.  It comes preloaded with City Navigator NT North America or Europe maps (full coverage).

A copy of the installed City Navigator map DVD is included, so that one can create waypoints and routes on a PC and upload then to the unit.  With this DVD one can unlock the map in a second GPS, if it supports NT maps.  The maps and OS take up 1.09 GB of the installed 1.20 GB mass storage leaving about 119 MB free for other data and maps (but much less than that in the SP c550 or nüvi 660).  However, SD and SDHD-card additional memory is supported.

The moving maps in the zumo are now panable as they are in the nüvi 660.  However, you can delete all waypoints at once and upload Routes from a PC, features not available in the 660.  This portable 10.6 oz (as compared to 9.2 for the SP c550) unit is about $800 (or about $200 more than the SP c550), check for latest discount prices (HERE).  The unit was tested with Software Ver. 2.50, 3.00, and 3.10.

Click photos for Larger Views

Box Contents
Lock Decals, Instructions, the Box
Adhesive Disk, Swivel, Ball Joint & Hardware, Security Wrench
CD Instruction Manual, C-Clamp, Fixed Ball Joint, Carrying Case, USB Cable, Bike Power Wiring
Suction Mount, City Navigator NT DVD, the Unit, Motor Bike Mount, Alternate Top & Bottom Covers
Power Cable, Mounting Instructions, USB Charging Module

It comes ready-to-go out of the box with preloaded maps and as many mounting nuts and bolts in a small hardware store!  This zumo has the new SIRF-III high-sensitivity GPS receiver -providing faster acquisition times and maintaining signal under heavy foliage and near city skyscrapers.   It supports USB 2.0 full speed, but does not display satellites as with the nüvi 660.

The zumo provides easy-to-use, navigation  with enhancements like Bluetooth wireless technology, hands-free cellphone calling, traffic receiver capability, and an MP3 player.  It has an internal, replaceable (for about $43), rechargeable Li-Ion battery which powered the receiver for 5 hours and 40 minutes with the backlight at 50%.

Comparing the zumo with the nuvi 660 under a bright sunlight condition.
Battery removed from the unit.

The screen is a very sharp, 3 1/2" diagonal, sunlight-readable TFT.  The screen is brighter than the c300 series, with one of the higher-resolution (320x240 pixel) color screens we have reviewed.  See comparisons to other units (HERE).

Configurable vehicle icons allow you to select a  customized bike-shaped icon showing your position on the map.  It's interesting that the unit is "Ready to Navigate" the instant it is turned on, as if the receiver is running in the background when the unit is turned off, but powered externally.

OPERATION:  One turns the unit ON (and OFF) by 'squeezing' the lower right-hand button.
The left-hand buttons (from top to bottom) are: "+", "-", "Page", and "Speak".  + and -  are used to zoom the maps.  The Page icon cycles between the Map, Trip Computer, MP3, and back to the Map.  The Speak icon requires a Bluetooth or hard-wired headset to hear the audio.

Icon Indications: Adequate Sats ° Bluetooth 'Headset' Connection ° Battery Fully Charged
The blue lines on the 3-D night map are the new tracklog display.

The "Speed" box brings up the Trip Computer, and the "Driving" box brings up the new Compass.
                          Trip-Computer Screens                  °                          New Compass Screen

GPS Navigator:
The zumo comes with preloaded maps of Europe or North America and includes automatic routing, 2D or 3D map perspective, and turn-by-turn voice directions that speak the  street names, making "heads-up" navigation easy.
NOTE:  If you change the voice in the "Locale" section, you need to select a voice labeled "TTS" (Text To Speech) if you wish to use this feature.

Look up an address: (1250 Northwest Highway, Garland, TX 75041, submitted by a reader)
Press: "Where to?", "Address", "Spell State" (TX), "Spell City" (GARL) -at this point the unit figures out that it's Garland TX, "Enter House Number" (1250), "Enter Street" (NORTHWEST), the address comes up with the proper zip code, now press "Go!" (or "Show Map").

Screen Shot of the Address

The "Tools" Menu
The splash page "Cars" icon shows that traffic information is being received and sats detected.
These icons allow you to set up the unit to your personal preferences.

Fifty pre-programmed routes with 200 vias can be uploaded to the zumo from a MapSource map.  The zumo 550 routes shown (HERE) were originally tracks stored in MapSource for a couple of years.  Once uploaded to the zumo, the individual tracks become individual Routes.

Creating a Route by Driving:
The procedure is to clear the track log, do the drive, and Save the Track as a Route.  This was confusing at first, because the track wasn't being saved.  Eventually we found you had to 'click' on the 'name' of the route, and then the unit 'calculated' the route.  It ends up in the Route list as Imported Route, Imported Route 1, Imported Route 2, etc.  You can then Change Name.  This route works very well, giving all the necessary driving instructions, but we don't see any way to reverse the route.  Supposedly at the end of the route you could go to some Favorite.  You can also store the routes on SD cards and share them.

Auto Routing
 Select "Where to?" then select a destination (Note that a "Routes" icon has been added).

3-D Map ° 2-D Map °  3-D Route (Streets Change to Yellow with an Active Route)

Waypoints (Favorites):
If you have MapSource, upgrade it to at least v. 6.11.5.  Then MapSource can recognize the zumo, and any waypoints loaded into a MapSource map can be uploaded to the unit directly without having to go through the .gpx routine.  These waypoints can be added to the waypoints in the unit.  Selected waypoints can be edited or deleted one at a time.

Unlike the SP c550, all waypoints can be deleted at once.  However, one has to determine THE waypoint at the the top of the list in alphabetical order.  Then by selecting THIS waypoint for Editing, Delete, you can see a "waypoint" just above that waypoint that says, "Select All".   After 'Selecting All', you can then Delete 'All'.

Use Spell to select the first Favorite in waypoint list ° Select Delete ° Select All and Delete.
NOTE: If you don't select the first waypoint in the list, "Select All" is not visible.

Some  Example Screen Shots
A close zoom level is required to display your Favorites.                   °              MP3 Player Control

Screen Shots can be Stored in the "Mass Media" as *.bmp files (by clicking on a camera icon)
Select Routing Options ° Setting the Brightness ° Screen Shots are enabled, but 'Camera' icon is not visible

The zumo kit includes two different (quick-release) mounts, a bike mount to clamp onto a handle bar and a suction car mount.

Click on Photographs
..... °..
The bike mount connects to a swivel and 1" C-clamp.  A power cable is shown attached
The car mount contains a speaker in the back, an FM-Radio-Traffic jack, and a USB XM Radio jack

In the bike mount is also a USB jack for an XM Radio receiver (there appears to be no provision for FM Radio Traffic).  At the top of the mount is a specially-designed security screw (circled in photo), which (with a corresponding mating tool supplied with the unit) can be screwed in to prevent the quick-disconnect lever from releasing the unit.

The mount structure of both mounts is such that you don't have to disconnect your XM or FM radio receiver when removing the unit as with the SP 7200 or the SP c550.

The new upgrade will allow the user to select if they want the phone audio to go to a bluetooth headset and the XM or mp3 audio to go to the hardwired headset.  Effectively this will send the mono phone signal to the mono headset and the stereo audio to the hardwired speaker or headset at the same time.

There are several sources to hear the spoken instructions and other audio:
Bike Mount, Hard-wired Audio:
By connecting a standard 1/8" audio plug to the side of the mount (above), one can use a normal head set.  The the mount must be powered to hear the audio.

Car mount, Speaker:
This mount has a built-in microphone and a speaker in the back of the mount (above).  This mount also must be powered to hear the speaker audio.

Bluetooth Audio:
With a Bluetooth handsfree cellphone headset, one can activate the Connect Headset feature in the Tools Menu.  We tested the unit with a Morotola H3 headset (about $65), and the audio range was about 30 feet.  After having selected the headset, reconnecting is about as simple as we've seen.  First turn on the unit, then turn on the headset.  The headset connects automatically.  The zumo does not need to be in the mount or powered to hear audio directions through the headset.


Bluetooth Wireless Phone:
The zumo lets you to make hands-free mobile phone calls on a compatible Bluetooth wireless phone. One can view incoming calls on the zumo, by tapping on the screen to answer.

Speak into the built-in (car) microphone or the Bluetooth headset.  In addition, one can retrieve and dial numbers from their personalized phone book or the phone's call history log.  You can also make calls from the zumo's points of interest database -which includes hotels, restaurants, stores, and more.  In tests with several cell phones, synching with the zumo was remarkably easy.

Integrated Traffic Display:
A unique feature to the zumo is its integrated traffic capabilities.  One must purchase either a GTM-20 FM TMC* traffic receiver installed in the 12vdc power plug (about $195 + $60 yearly subscription) or a GXM 30 XM Traffic receiver with a USB connection (about $230 + $205 yearly subscription).  This traffic reception will notify you of traffic, construction, weather delays, and automatically suggests alternative routes
*Traffic services available in select cities are noted (HERE).

FM Traffic Screens
(Not all Traffic Information is Created Equally)
  zumo 550 FM Traffic

StreetPilot c550 FM Traffic
Note that the zumo applies color to the traffic differently from the SP c550
Also the problem list is more informative in the SP c550 and lists more events.

FM and XM Traffic Screens
Select Traffic Source   °                         FM Traffic                °                      XM Traffic
Note that FM traffic uses "green" to show slow traffic and orange for slower traffic.
XM traffic appears to show "green" where there is coverage but no slow traffic.
Red indicates stopped traffic in both.

Optional Software (Extras):
Optional software available on plug-in SD cards lets you add new features to your zumo without connecting to your computer.  Travel Guide gives you helpful and thorough reviews and recommendations for restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife, sporting events and tourist attractions. Travel Guide for Europe available for purchase. Travel Guide for United States is coming soon.  Savers Guide is a geo-coded coupon book that notifies you of nearby discounts on restaurants, hotels, shopping, and more at thousands of participating Entertainment businesses throughout North America.

Joe's FAQs:
  1) Does it have a trip computer?  -Yes, by tapping the Map Page lower-left box.
  2) How many waypoints can a user put in?  -500.
  3) Can a user create a waypoint?  -Yes by touching the map, but only at Present Position. (However, see Panning above).
  4) Is there a MARK key or similar?  -No.
  5) Can the unit do the "traveling salesman problem" solution?  -No, but a 'Where to?' can contain several Vias.
  6) Does it have a GPS info screen?  -No.
  7) Can it display altitude?  -Yes.
  8) Are tracks displayed? -Yes, and they can be downloaded to a MapSource map.
  9) Are POIs displayed? -Not on the navigation map; however, they can be seen on a Favorites, Show Map.
10) Are street names pronounced? -Yes.
11) Does it have proximity waypoints to go with the POI loader?   All of the attributes of the POI appear to be supported, including proximity distance, speed, and icons for the POIs loaded.
12) Will it play music?  -The MP3 format for audio is supported.
13) Do you have to press screen buttons on the screen to get to the maps?  -You have to touch the screen at least once.
14) Is there a computer connection? -Yes, USB to upload additional maps, MP3, Custom POIs, Waypoints, and Extras.
15) How do you update the maps when the time comes?  -It appears that you can replace the existing map in Mass Storage.
16) Does it have a Security Code? -Yes.
17) Can you delete all the waypoints at once? -Yes. see (HERE) for procedure).
18) Can you change the waypoint symbol? -Yes.
19) Is it rainproof? -Yes.
20) Does it have NMEA out? -No
21) Does it have bluetooth? -Yes
22) Does it turn On/0ff when the power from the car goes On/off? -Yes
23) Can routes be stored? -Yes
24) Does it have a battery? -Yes, internal and rechargeable through the cigarette lighter plug, power module, or USB connection.*

*Procedure for charging the Battery from a USB Connection: Turn the unit off.  Plug in the USB. (That turns the unit on). Turn the unit off before the maps load and before you get the 'computer picture'.  Otherwise, you can't turn the unit off.

Things We Would Like to See Improved:

Now don't get lost out there -you all!
-jack yeazel