Review of my Garmin 376C GPS

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by MWM, Apr 26, 2006.

  1. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    Since it was a rainy day yesterday I thought I'd post a review of my Garmin 376C with some pictures. This was during a trip to Mississippi I made yesterday evening. I've logged over 9000 miles on it and it has been a good GPS so far. I had a Garmin 176C (screen SUCKED in sunlight) and then went to a 176 (because of the sucky color screen on the 176C). The 176 was a good unit, especially for a boat, but I wanted more features.
    The 376C has a built in antenna for all the GPS features, but it has a separate antenna for the XM Radio and satellite weather. I velcroed a spot on the front beak of the GS for the separate antenna in case I transfer the unit to a car, boat, etc.
    Pros:
    1) Really enjoy the satellite weather feature. It doesn't help much to get around the rain, but at least you know when to stop and put your rain gear on. :evil
    2) I like the fact that it's waterproof so you don't have to worry about the XM Radio feature.
    3) The screen is very bright and even easy to see in direct sunlight.
    4) Rechargeable battery has a good life span of around 6 hours, but it also comes with a 12 volt power supply and a 110 volt charger.
    Cons:
    1) Buttons are too small to use while wearing gloves.
    2) The satellite weather and XM Radio cost right under $40.00 a month, which I would rather be cheaper. :wink:
    3) The volume output for the radio could be a little louder. It's probably loud enough for most, but when you're listening to a talk channel i.e. Comedy Channel it's sometimes hard to understand the words at higher speeds.
    4) The built in base map is limited and it cost about $100 to upgrade to city street level information.
    5) The biggest con is that the XM Radio is very user friendly. You have to change from the GPS screen to change channels. When you do change channels you don't have a "previous" button to change back and forth from channels like on regular XM receivers (I know this probably just a man thing like flipping channels on a tv remote, but I am a man :D )
    The only true defect I've found is the 110 volt charger plug that plugs into the back of the receiver broke off. Fortunately Garmin sent me another one right away free of charge.
    All in all it's a very good GPS that I'm very pleased with and would recommend to anybody.

    GPS mounted using a RAM mount
    [​IMG]

    XM Radio/satellite antenna
    [​IMG]

    Hi tech velco mount
    [​IMG]

    Daytime screen shot of weather
    [​IMG]

    Nighttime screen shot of weather
    [​IMG]

    Nighttime screen shot of XM channels
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. jpalamar

    jpalamar Long timer

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    I have had the 376C since it has been out and I might just add something that you may have already discovered. You are using a good deal of your screen display to show the data on the right. You can display four (4) overlay data fields, out of approximately 50 (I didn't count) without giving up any screen real estate.
    The four I use are:
    Top Left: SPEED
    Top Right: TRACK (Marine for direction traveling)
    Bottom Left: OAT (Air Temperature)
    Bottom Right: XM Sat song/feature playing

    The list of availabLe DATA FIELDS is excellent. When on a route you can change any of the data fields e.g. who needs temperature, DISTANCE TO NEXT WAYPOINT LOT MORE IMPORTANT. Etc. I hope I didn't insult you with this I just noticed your screen and thought perhaps you have not yet discovered this yet. BTW, i have a BMW NAV II (Garmin 2610 with City Navigator) and find the CITY SELECT, with the 512Mb datacards is just as good.

    Regards,
    John
    #2
  3. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    No insult at all! I listen to anybody's suggestions. I'm just used to the fields set up like this from my old 176 days. You don't know of anyway in changing the radio station without leaving the main screen do you? I have a Garmin 330 with the City Select preloaded and love the software. I guess I'll have to save up for the City Select and data card for this one.

    Thanks again,
    Mike
    #3
  4. jpalamar

    jpalamar Long timer

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    Sorry Mike I don't know anyway (but haven't read the manual either), the 376C is neanderthal compared to my son's 2730 re: XM radio. I tend to leave it on a station without much changing so necessity wasn't the mother of invention in my case. You may want to check with Garmin re: City Select pre-loaded. I know that they will provide two (2) unlock codes for 2 serial numbered devices, but that's if you buy the software. I don't know if they give you download privileges on pre-loaded software.

    One other thought, if you have a buddy that bought any version of City Select or City Navigator, perhaps you could persuade him/her to let you have one of his unlock codes for your 376C. It's perfectly acceptable to Garmin if he has a paid version. PM me if any questions . . . heck, I would have given you one of my unlock codes but I have used them both. Good luck

    Good luck and regards,
    John
    #4
  5. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    :ear I'm all ears if anybody has an extra code they want to make a deal on.

    Mike
    #5
  6. Tugrik

    Tugrik Big Blue Adventurer

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    Cool! I've been waiting for just such a review. Let me inundate you with questions:

    How much did you pay for it? From where?
    Which RAM mount are you using (have a picture of the mount without the GPS on it?)
    What does the XM antenna cable look like where it attaches to the unit? (hope it's just Mini-USB!)

    Weather+Music is only $40? Last time I checked it was $100... but that was the full 'marine weather' package. They keep changing this line on me, which is why I've not gotten one yet.
    #6
  7. jpalamar

    jpalamar Long timer

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    Fisherman package all you need + XM radio. Combined pricing is 29.99 + 6.99 + appropriate taxes.
    I bought mine from TVNAV.COM; Darrel and Glenda authorized representatives . . . price about 800 bucks. But, to make it functional, get the Auto Nav package which includes City Select Database (maybe could share your unlock code with thread originator)+ get one 512 Mb datacard...125 bucks. The Auto Nav package I believe is 195 bucks. TVNAV sells the RAM Mount for the 376/276C. I put a Powerlet accessory outlet direct to battery and modified the cord to plug into the outlet. I have the shelf for the unit AND the XM smart antenna puck. Plugs into unit with min-USB Plug.

    Any questions, let me know.
    #7
  8. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    Sorry Mr./Mrs. Mod. I forgot about the GPS forum.
    #8
  9. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    I paid $660.00 new off EBay. Don't know how much you can buy one now for. I'm sure Garmin is updating to different models so these should be getting cheaper.

    It is mini-usb, but they give you an extension cable with the unit. I'm not using the extension cable yet, but I'm having a custom made back plate built and it's got a dedicated spot for the antenna, so I'll have to use the extension to reach that far back.

    Yes weather+music is cheaper. I'm hoping they'll drop the price some more.

    Actually I used an old RAM mount I had for a 76S I used to have. All I did is remove the 76S cradle and screwed it onto the back of the factory 376C cradle. It works fine, but I'll end up buying a lockable mount. I leave it on the bike to go into a convenience store, but take it off when I'm away from the bike for longer than a few minutes.
    #9
  10. Tugrik

    Tugrik Big Blue Adventurer

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    Cool, thanks for the info!

    My 'dream' setup for this would be to have some kind of locking mount (like I've seen for the 26xx series) so it could be left on the bike during short stops, and a quick-connect extension cable mounted creatively so the XM antenna could be removed for use in a car without having tons of wire draping around the bike haphazardly. Then wire it into the ol' autocomm and it's all set.

    How often is the NEXRAD info updated? Why is it hard to use to avoid storms?
    #10
  11. jpalamar

    jpalamar Long timer

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    Last first. It's not hard to use to avoid storms. But you do have to understand its limitations. NEXRAD, to the best of my knowledge is updated every 5 minutes (as shown on the 376C). Animation is a result of storing multiple frames, where you can actually see the latest to earliest frames 'play out'. It is superb for avoiding 'heavy' weather areas. Also, the size of the NEXRAD 'pixel' is I beileve 1 square mile. Additionally, the strength of the echo is denoted by color: Light green thru purple, etc. Light green being a light radar return, most likely light precipitation. Where NEXRAD can let you down is where there are 'showers'. For example, a small black cloud in a sunny sky can drench you in Florida. NEXRAD typically won't catch that. Go to AccuWeather.com/accuwx.com and look at NEXRAD.

    I haven't solved the quick disconnect yet. With regards to the unit, if you use a RAM mount, that's pretty quick as you just loosen the 'knob', pop it off the ball. The PITA factor is the power cord and mini-USB re-connect when you put it back on. Ingenuity and persistence will help you get it done, I am sure.

    It's value is great, but diminished if on trips you stay in motels/hotels and bring a laptop. With WI-FI you of course can log onto any of the weather sites and plan your trip around bad storm areas. If your route requires that you hit the fringe of these areas, well, the 376C is invaluable.

    Let's face it, and I speak for myself here, I have this because I like it and want it. Would I be able to live without it? Sure, but I could also live without HD TV, DirecTV, TivO, cell phone, and satellite phone. It's all 21st century junk that compiicates our lives when they don't work.

    And I will admit that my R12GS supports my Walter Mitty-ish "The Long Way Round" attitude . . . hell, I went off road the other day and rode across my lawn!:rofl
    #11
  12. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    Updated every 5 minutes.

    Because the rain storms are usually so large that it's not feasible to go all the way around them. Rain storms don't bother me anyway, so I guess I don't try to avoid as much as somebody else may. On a trip to Texas a few days ago I saw a heavy band moving across the interstate about 10 miles up the road. But, the band was narrow and the next band was probablly about 10 behind that one so I pulled over, got gas and drank an energy drink (it was very late at night). I then checked the GPS and the end of the first rain band was just over the interstate. I got back on the road and by the time I got to it the road was wet, but the first band had already passed and I was driving between the two bands. That was pretty cool.
    #12
  13. GaelicDog

    GaelicDog Lesser of Two Weasels

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    You listen to PINK :razor


    Other than that, my newly aquired 376C is filling it's suited purpose well.

    I wish it had a built in FM transmitter for XM. Makes for less cables when using it in the car.
    #13
  14. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    I was waiting for somebody to comment on that. I thought about it after I took the picture. I had walked inside the house from my ride and came back outside and took the pictures. I was paying attention to the clarity of the picture and now what was on the screen. When I reviewd the picture and saw "Pink", I told myself somebody was going to rag me for this, but I was too lazy and tired to go back out and take another picture. :D .

    I figure the built in transmitter will be on Garmin's 476C or 576C if/when they ever decide to make one. But, you're right about it being nice if there were less wires in the car!
    #14
  15. jpalamar

    jpalamar Long timer

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    I figure the built in transmitter will be on Garmin's 476C or 576C if/when they ever decide to make one. But, you're right about it being nice if there were less wires in the car![/quote]

    The cables are a royal PITA. I would even be pleased if you could get the smart antenna/XM Puck antenna with a short cable. (my understanding is do not under any circumstances cut the cable and put on any connectors . . . bumps in the signal, blah, blah) I have the 'shelf' BMR/RLM, whatever, and plenty of room for the puck but the damn cabling is a cluster!
    #15
  16. hgulledge

    hgulledge Adventurer-of-sorts

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    I haven't used the weather very much and tuning the XM is dangerous while riding. I think the answer is to get a "Roadie" for the XM and dispense with XM on the 376. And, when I do that, I'll probabaly pass on the weather and get rid of the hockey puck.
    #16
  17. Tugrik

    Tugrik Big Blue Adventurer

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    You're talking to someone who finds gadget-infrastructure to be a way of life if not a minor religion unto itself. No worries. Why else do you think I want a live NEXRAD display on my motorbike? :evil

    I work for a GPS company and my life is already littered with the things. There's one we're working on that will be a must-have for bikers but it's still 7 months out.

    Until then? Yeah, I'm after a 376 or 476, just so I can get live weathermap data... because it's just plain cool.
    #17
  18. jpalamar

    jpalamar Long timer

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    A true soul-mate! The 376C shortcomings are the proprietary 512Mb datacard, (26XX uses the compact flash), the puck antenna, lack of an FM xmitter/modulator, and neanderthal XM radio interface. Remember tho', it's primary function was marine; will be looking forward to your company's product. The wow factor of other bikers looking at your GPS, seeing surface map with isobars/lines of pressure, county warnings, fronts, Hight/Lows, and colored precipitation moving across the screen is worth it! I love it so much I have two 376C's, but only ONE subscription so have to switch pucks. FYI, the subscription is tied to the PUCK antenna, NOT the GPS.

    Regards,
    John
    #18
  19. MWM

    MWM Been here awhile

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    You're right. I forgot to add that as one of the Con's

    Mike
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  20. TomW

    TomW Long timer

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    That's because the XM receiver is in the puck. Upside is that when I get the '378, I can use the same puck on both of them ('378 doesn't come with the XM receiver -- must buy separately). That's not an issue since I can only see myself using one at a time.
    #20