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GPS Navigation: Problems with the Garmin iQue 3600

I bought a slightly used Garmin iQue 3600 in October 2004.
Here a few comments:

  1. battery life
  2. map data expensive
  3. voice prompt files
  4. audio quality
  5. overall very useful

Battery Life:
After 6 months now, the batteries only last 3 minutes when the GPS is activated (antenna pulled out). This is rather useless. There is a gadget that allows a 'quick charge' from two AA batteries, I haven't tried it out personally since I now use the iQue only in my cars.

Expensive map data:
The iQue 3600 comes with City Select 5.01 mapping release for North America using map data from NavTech. I bought a used unit which I suspect may have been stolen from the previous owner. I did not get it with the map data - which would cost me more than another $100. Garmin has a pretty smart system that ties the registration of map data (or if so desired, software in general) to the iQue's serial number. You cannot simply use your friend's map data. The internet is full of ('pirated') downloadable maps and you can install them on your PC but they won't work on your iQue.

Voice prompt files:
My 'used' iQue did not come with the original CDROM either. I was able to download everything necessary from Garmin's web site including Palm desktop. However, the voice prompt files were missing. I found than in the event of a deep battery discharge, the voice prompt files (and address book and other personal data) may be lost as well. In this situation you simply do a restore from your recent backup (on the PC). However, by default your voice prompt files are not backed up. Make sure to get Garmin's voice prompt backup tool - available on their web site.
In my case, the unit didn't have the voice prompts at all and I had to copy them from a friend.

Audio quality:
The Garmin iQue 3600 comes with a sound recorder and I guess it's good for taking notes. I downloaded an MP3 player and the playback suffers from the inferior quality of my external speaker. The internal speaker actually sounds better but it is just too weak. I am using the car travel kit with the suction cup where the charger plugs in the cigarette lighter outlet and a little amplified speaker is integrated into the charger plug. The only good thing is that the speaker has a dial to adjust the noise level, errr.. volume. Definitely no replacement for an iPod or other mp3 player.

Overall very useful:
I would not leave my house without it, even when I don't expect to go in unknown territory. It's simply very useful to know your estimated time of arrival. The value on a roadtrip when you suddenly are about to run out of gas is fantastic.


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