Garmin Zumo 395LM

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by benlong100, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. benlong100

    benlong100 n00b

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    I recently tried upgrading from the Zumo 550 to the new 395LM. It didn't go very well. Garmin is such a sad company in so many ways. Here's the review I posted on Amazon.

    I've been an avid user of a Garmin Zumo 550 for years, and before that had the 450. I've ridden back and forth across the US with those units and found them invaluable, both for navigation, and for their built-in MP3 features. Still, I see Garmin announce new units and find myself jealous of features like Lane Assist, lifetime maps, and support for media cards larger than 8 GB. So when Garmin releases a new unit I buy it, check it out, and then invariably return it because I have yet to find a new model that works as well as the Zumo 550. As you might have guessed with my star rating for the 395LM that is – frustratingly – the case with this, their latest motorcycle GPS.

    There's much to like about the 395LM. The unit is thinner than my clunky old 550 and I love the new mount. It's lightweight, easy to disengage, and welll-protected from the elements. Also, Garmin has gone back to a single cable for power, which is a big improvement over the nest of cables that shipped with some previous models. Unfortunately, Garmin no longer offers a cable that goes from their proprietary power connector to PowerLet. I don't want to leave the mount on the bike all the time, so I like the option of plugging it into the PowerLet adapter on the dash of my bike. Since no option is available from Garmin, I cut up the supplied cable and added a PowerLet cable to the end. This works fine – just be sure you leave the big transformer box from the original cable in your new Frankenstein cable.

    The screen is incredibly bright and very easy to see, even in direct sunlight. I didn't think I'd care about the extra screen width, but it's nice because it allows for status panels to pop up without completely obscuring the map. This makes the interface far less modal than what I have on my 550. That said, we now come to my first deal-breaker with the 395LM – Garmin has made many critical interface elements so small that I can't see them while riding. Speed and distance to the next turn are significantly smaller than they were on the 550. What's more, indications of the next turn – say the number of an exit – are now displayed as cute little road sign icons. And I mean LITTLE. They're completely unreadable at highway speed. Before you write me off as some blind old fart I should say that, at 49, I'm only partly old. The unreadability isn't so much a case of bad eyes as it is vibration. Even the smoothest bike is still gonna have some shake in the bars at 80 mph and that vibration is just enough to rattle the small text on the 395LM into unreadability (I tested the unit on a 2015 Ducati Multistrada).

    Garmin has also made some strange choices with their map display. The 550 displayed many more street names than the 395LM does. In fact, the 395LM often only shows me the name of the road I'm currently on. Changing zoom levels does nothing to increase the number of names and this is all very curious given that the 395LM has a BIGGER screen than the 550. (See the attached photo for a comparison of map display, and note the difference in size of key interface elements.)

    It feels like the 395LM was designed by someone sitting in a cubicle, or design studio, who's main concern was to make a very pretty layout for the screen. They definitely achieved that – the layout and type choices are great and when you first take the thing out of the box and turn it on you'll be struck by how attractive the display is. Unfortunately, the design choices that make it pretty – empty space around key bits of data – also make it unusable at highway speed. If Garmin would offer options for text size this could be easily fixed.

    However, if that problem were fixed the 395LM would still be unusable for serious touring due to astonishingly bad support for GPX files. I do my route planning using the excellent site rever.com. Designed specifically for motorcycle travel, Rever lets you plan routes (using the excellent Butler Maps data) and then download a GPX of your final plan. I can simply plug the Zumo 550 into my computer, drag the downloaded GPX file into the Zumo's GPX folder, then restart and let the unit import the data. When I try the same thing on the 395LM I get a straight line from start to finish. In addition to not being the route that I wanted, since I live in San Francisco this often takes me through the Bay, which is deeper than the 395LM's stated water resistance rating.

    To keep things simple, I plotted a path around the block, and the 395LM still couldn't interpret it properly. Where it gets weird, though, is that I then went into Garmin's BaseCamp software and built a route. I had BaseCamp send the file directly to the 395LM. After unplugging the unit, it set about importing the file, and then said it was calculating the route. It shouldn't have to do any calculation for a route that's already spec'd out so I can only assume it was again ignoring my route and only paying attention to the start and end points. I can't say for sure because after 2 minutes of calculation the machine shut down. In other words, the 395LM's GPX support is currently so messed up that it can't even work with GPX files from Garmin's own software!

    As far as I'm concerned, this, alone, is reason enough to skip this model. If you can only do route planning within the unit, you're gonna have a miserable time defining your own path to where you want to go.

    Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I love the MP3 player in my 550. The interface is a little weak but having access to an MP3 player that can work with motorcycle gloves is great for those boring stretches of road. Unfortunately, the 395LM's MP3 player has some big problems. First, volume occasional suddenly cuts from time to time – not mutes, but just gets quieter. Then, just as suddenly it will come back. I keep all the voice prompt volume turned down so I wonder if what's going on is that it's muting the music when it wants to speak, even though I've told it not to talk.

    Though annoying, I could deal with that problem except that the Zumo 395LM's audio quality is TERRIBLE! I moved the same MP3 files that I listen to on the 550 into the 395LM and they sound tinny and hollow. I don't expect great fidelity while riding a motorcycle, that's not the problem. This is a fidelity loss that makes things hard to hear. Podcasts suffer especially. I use Bose noise cancelling ear buds in my helmet and with the Zumo 550 I can listen to NPR podcasts at highway speed with the volume at about 50% and can understand every word. With the 395LM cranked up to near 100% the tinny sound was so weak that I struggled to hear the content while traveling at highway speeds.

    At this point I find myself confused. In its current state, the unit is not usable for serious touring – the lack of reliable GPX support is a deal-breaker. Also, I want a good MP3 player. But these plainly seem to be software issues so if there's a chance that Garmin will fix them then I'd be inclined to hang on to the unit. But, my window for returning is closing so I'm not sure it's worth the risk. While I try to decide, though, the 395LM will be staying at home and the Zumo 550 will go back on my bike.
    #1
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  2. rider911

    rider911 Shortcut Navigator

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    Wait till you get really familiar with it
    I agree that Garmins programmers have never seen the outside of a office, never mind have any idea how a motorcyclist uses a GPS.
    It's a shame because they have the technology to build a perfect unit just not the competition to force it.
    I'm not familiar with the 395 but I have a 590 and it would be the perfect GPS if it only did what they claimed it can or what previous models did. Unfortunately updates are few and far between.
    #2
    sieg likes this.
  3. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    people like you are I love Amazons reviews. thanks
    #3
  4. AndyCBR

    AndyCBR Been here awhile

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    I'm bummed I just bought one of these turds. I might return it. I was going to snap up one of the 660's that are now reasonably priced but they have issues with Basecamp and I have a Mac so Mapsource is not an option for me.
    #4
  5. JR356

    JR356 Long timer

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    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/zumo-665-deal.1140170/

    Just to make matters worse,665LM with xm antenna for price of a 660 !

    You can use Furkot or other routing programs and avoid the whole Mapsourse/Basecamp issue.
    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/furkot-the-online-trip-planning-tool.1028148/

    JR356
    #5
  6. AndyCBR

    AndyCBR Been here awhile

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    I think you may have the headset and 395 paired as HFP and then the music is in mono. Pair them per 5.4.2 and you will get stereo music but the Zumo lady will cut off music/intercom when she talks in that mode.

    Good info here:
    http://support.sena.com/entries/55815280-Please-explain-Audio-Multitasking
    #6
  7. motoreiter

    motoreiter Long timer

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    Thanks for this very helpful review; was about to pick up one of these units but now think I will pass. Unfortunately I cannot find anything else to buy either... The only GPS I have which I like is my old Zumo 550, and I'm not sure how much longer it will last...
    #7
  8. mickshere

    mickshere Adventurer

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    Great review, I am now in the position to buy a new motorbike (ahem over the next 4 years) and thought i would upgrade my old 550 (cant find any map upgrades for it) and in my naivety thought upgrading to later Garmins would be the solution, mapsource is so useful
    #8
  9. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

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    I got one of these a year ago. Got a pair of the tire pressure monitors and linked them up as well.

    It's a decent unit, but yeah, text size still sucks compared to the 550.

    The 'adventurous routing' can be interesting. I'm prone to heading a general direction, moving the cursor thirty miles that way, and using that routing choice. Done that for years on older units, using shortest distance. Great way to find off the beaten path ways.

    Thing is, my 478 is still front and center high on my dash, and my prime nav unit. The 395 is on the left bar. Since the 395 has the latest POI's, I give it the nod for those things, but the 478 still rules for most everything else.

    And really, the 395 is not a bad unit, and on par with any current waterproof GPS unit out there.

    It's just that the current choices suck donkey turds. Just look at how they fucked up the new 276. :baldy
    #9
  10. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

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    Help Please : Hi I am afraid I am completely lost on this new Zumo. I bought the 395LM with North American default maps. I am taking the bike over to Europe so I bought the Garmin City Navigator Europe micro SD map. However when I slot the card into the 395 it tells me the card needs to be formatted and it will delete all existing data. This City Navigator Europe SD card was purchased directly from Garmin. What am I doing wrong? Can't find anything on the web.
    #10
  11. virgilus

    virgilus Been here awhile

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    I would give them a call and let them fix it. I recently purchase the same sd card for Europe trip but I inserted on a Navi V and it works perfectly. I had few problems in the past and they stood by their product.
    #11
  12. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

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    User error. You have to power off and on the Garmin once you insert the card. Works perfectly.
    #12
  13. motogon

    motogon Like wind

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    Hey guys! Can anybody tell me what size of black screw (marked on picture #3)? I need to find replacement for that screw, mine is missing.

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

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    #14
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  15. motogon

    motogon Like wind

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    Drif10, Thank you! So it is screw, not bolt as it shown on picture from manual.
    #15
  16. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

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    Yes, a screw thread.
    #16
  17. Xoliul

    Xoliul Been here awhile

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    While I fully agree with the idea that Garmin has so much potential with these things, yet weird design and UX choices hold them back a lot, I don't think any of your remarks about lack of GPX support hold water.
    First off you seem to be confusing GPX/track support with route support. Tracks are just breadcrumb trails, dumb with no turn by turn info. They've worked well on all Garmin units for years, the first Zumo 340 units needed a firmware update to get them, but they are flawless on a 395.
    Routes on the other hand can be tricky: garmin has several systems for these smart, turn-by-turn, and unfortunately the system used for Nuvi and Zumo units is the complicated one. You can build them on the unit, but it's a bit finnicky with a small screen and no peripheral input devices, or you can build them with Basecamp. Afaik there is not format that reliably tranfers turn-by turn routes between programs, as it is inherently so dependant on the map data. Like you can not just get google-maps turn-by-turn into Garmin turn-by-turn routing in a single step, it requires, converting, rebuilding and checking. It's just easier to build them in Basecamp. The recalculating on the unit is the shitty part: it seems like the Zumo and Nuvi units use another different format that the unit needs to convert/recalculate itself on import. Might have something to do with being to edit it on the device afterwards.

    Just make sure you don't confuse routes and tracks: try to learn building routes in Mapsource, and if you still don't want to (I switched since it's just easier and less hassle) learn how to convert tracks back to routes reliably with mapsource.
    But yes, it's pretty shit. Garmin could do so much to make the experience better; it all still feels very 1998...

    (don't want to sound like a know-it-all ass, I've owned and used many Garmin units for guiding large groups of motorcyclists several weeks a year)

    ps if anybody is thinking of upgrading to a 396 or 346, my 2c:
    -Much faster and smoother to use than predecessors.
    -Uses same cradle s 345-395 etc in landscape orientation, so you can keep that from older wrecked units. It's nice they don't force you to buy new cradles!
    -Overall better UI-wise.They got rid of silly dashboard presets and you have more customization options for the main screen.
    -Largely the same compared to units from the past 5 years other than above points
    #17
  18. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 300 Ft.

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    So true as to routes versus tracks.

    But Mapsource? As much of a PITA it was moving from Mapsource to Basecamp years ago, and the easier interface of Mapsource, I can't see going back to Mapsource. Still, with Garmin's lack of support for Basecamp these days, maybe a WayBack visit to Mapsource would be fun.
    #18
  19. Xoliul

    Xoliul Been here awhile

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    Haha sorry, I used both and still keep confusing the names!
    #19
  20. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    route support isn't a problem for the rest of the world.

    I routinely share maps, tracks, waypoints, and routes between devices, it's fine.
    #20
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