Garmin Zumo XT - Short Term Review - North East USA

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by _jonoz_, May 23, 2020.

  1. bozmotodual16

    bozmotodual16 GuttenTight Supporter

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    I just got the XT, partly based on the ability to share trails with 3rd party. I haven't actually used it yet, so TBD. Will watch this thread as users chime in.
    #41
  2. mda185

    mda185 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I am a long time Montana 650 user and do a fair amount of off road riding. I ride with other folks that have also invested a lot of time and money into learning how to use Basecamp and we regularly share tracks with each other. I decided to try the Zumo XT for the great sunlight readable screen. I will add that I am also very computer literate. 3 decades of experience with both Windows and Mac machines for engineering and leisure use. If you use a Mac, ride off road, and like to share tracks with other off road riders, this is not the GPS for you. I really wanted to like this unit but I just wasted a solid 5 hours trying to get this configured to work with my 2020 Macbook and get my existing collection of trips and tracks imported. The current generation of Macbooks with USB C ports will not reliably detect the Zumo XT in Basecamp. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. More often, it does not detect it. I have no problem with my Windows computer. I called Garmin tech support and I read all of their relevant online help. I tried everything they suggested. No joy. It still will not reliably detect the Zumo XT. This is a show stopper for me.

    One thing has not changed in 30 years. Garmin makes great devices but their computer software for managing the devices, mapping, and creating tracks is and always has been non-intuitive and buggy. My day job is analyzing software and working with software developers for spacecraft so I speak from some experience.

    If you use a Windows computer, this works much better. If you are going to use it out of the box with the installed maps and don't care much about things like 24K Topo maps then this might be for you. If off road riding and exploring is important to you, this is not for you. I really wanted to like this but mine is going back.
    #42
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  3. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Thanks for that report. I use an iMac and anticipate getting the XT having used up the life of my 600t. Inasmuch as I don't require most of the functions you address (importing and BC) I think it will be a good device. I mainly want to know where I am periodically, cross roads/intersections, point to point data and save a track to send via email. I use Garmin Connect for my cycling activities and that works well but have no need to use Basecamp as my rides are solo and somewhat spontaneous. Still can use the 600 for topo when the need arises. You have explained some of the limitations so I don't waste time trying to figure out something that ultimately will not work.
    #43
  4. sati8d

    sati8d REALLY?? Eh! Oh! ca va pas non??? Supporter

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    Outstanding comments and a very real reality check....a lot of varnish, shiny great screen, but you still have to deal with Garmin crap interface software, (I hate Basecamp on a Mac or Windows) added costs for maps, etc...
    I had high hopes for it too, same Trailtech Pro, which is quite quirky too.

    Nope KISS principle- best answer I've read &heard thus far is a ruggedized 5" cellphone, maybe the Kyocera, not connected but for GPS and use the other apps out there, OSMand, Rever, GpXpro to name a few. Plus its a 1/5th of the cost.
    #44
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  5. mda185

    mda185 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Follow up to my original post. I packed up my Zumo XT to return it and had 2nd thoughts. I still think Garmin software development is managed and performed by people whose training is from the last century - but my 63 year old eyes really struggle to see the map on my Montana 650 when riding in the woods with strong sunlight. The high glare when the sunlight is not blocked by leaves alternates with moments when I can see the screen but it's almost like looking at something with a strobe light flashing. Typically, if I adjust it so there is no glare while sitting, then I have strong glare while standing and vice-versa. If I try to adjust it on the move, at least 50% of the time I accidentally touch the screen and cause it to stop tracking because the Montana thinks I am trying to make a waypoint. This is not a situation a street rider will struggle with. It is really bad on my KTM 350EXCF.

    I need a better daylight readable screen and the Zumo XT has that. I revisited the issues with my MacBook and Basecamp and discovered a work around. The problem is that if Garmin Express or any other software connects with the Zumo XT, the computer resources used for the communication link never get released after Express or other software is shut down. I don't know if this is purely an OSX issue or a combination of OSX and the Android operating system Garmin uses on the XT. Either way, if another program was 'talking' to the XT prior to starting Basecamp on a Mac, then Basecamp will not detect the XT even if you shut down all other programs. (This does not happen with my Montana 650 on a Mac)

    I did the following. I set up preferences for Garmin Express so that it will not automatically start when I plug a Garmin device into the USB port. I also stopped it from running constantly in the background (that is the default Garmin sets when Express is installed.) If I used Garmin Express to update software or load maps, I unplug the Zumo XT when finished and plug it in again when I want to use Basecamp. This forces the Zumo XT to reboot. Sometimes, this does not work, and the solution is to reboot the computer and the Zumo XT. That seems to work every time.

    If the MacBook goes to sleep with the Zumo XT connected and Basecamp open, it will not detect it when the computer wakes up. Same deal - I have to reboot the XT and the Macbook.

    These are issues that were common and expected on 20-30 year old computers and operating systems. Sucks that we have to deal with this in 2020 with a new $500 GPS.

    Some other observations. The active topo map included with the Zumo XT sucks for real off road riding on trails and dirt roads like we have in the NJ Pine Barrens and places like Famous Reading Outdoors in central PA. I will have to spring for Garmin 24K topo maps like I had on my Montana. The motorcycle mount included with the Zumo XT may be fine for street use but the way it attaches to the back of the Zumo does not look like it will hold up in an off road environment on a small single cylinder bike like the KTM 350. Too much vibration. I will have to come up with some kind of tether just in case the mount breads or vibrates loose.
    #45
  6. Josh69

    Josh69 Been here awhile

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    Long term Zumo 660 user who has just come back from a year off the bike. I just bought a Tom Tom Rider 550 to replace the Zumo 660, but I've found the phone control features on the Tom Tom lacking, so considering changing it for a Zumo XT. OTOH the routing on the Tom Tom is really, really easy to manage. No computer required. Map updates etc are also no computer required.

    I'm using an iPhone. I don't really want to mess with my phone while riding, but I'd like to be able to switch music on and off and select music.

    Can anybody help with these:
    - Is there any way to control Amazon Music on the iPhone via the XT? Would I have to load music on the XT directly if I want to be able to control it while riding?
    - Are there any iPhone apps I can control from the XT?
    - Can I set up a multi-waypoint route without using a computer? On the XT or XT+phone only?
    - How good is the speed camera/safety camera database in Europe? Would the XT give me alerts about mobile speed cameras?
    #46
  7. scootertrog

    scootertrog Jedi Fart Master

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    Can't you guys just use Furkot or Mappite to build and export a route or track right into a folder on the XT? I had no problems doing that with a couple other Garmin units I used to have, never, ever fvcked with Basecrap.
    #47
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  8. mda185

    mda185 Been here awhile Supporter

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    If Furkot or Mappite worked on older Garmin units, it should work with the XT. That is not an option for off road riding on trails and dirt roads that may not show up in any maps used by those programs. I need Basecamp and 24K topo maps for most of my riding. I record tracks as I explore and export to Basecamp to edit and clean up the tracks and share them with friends. The 24K topo maps have better coverage of state forest roads and Class IV roads in New England.
    #48
  9. scootertrog

    scootertrog Jedi Fart Master

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    ^ Gotcha. It didn't sink in with me that you needed off-road routing, sorry.

    I have seen quite a few folks here complain about Basecamp (on -roaders) and it makes me wonder why they insist on using Basecamp/Explorer thingy if they could just use a second party program like Mappite or Furkot.
    #49
  10. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist Supporter

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    For the one or two that posted they'd rather use a cheap phone: How do you operate the phone? My phone doesn't respond to me when I have gloves on. Do you stop and take your gloves off? Use gloves that have something in the fingertips that lets you work a phone? Keep a stylus attached by the phone, so you can use that?

    My 660 was giving me problems last week. I rode in the rain all day and towards the end, the 660's screen treated all screen touches as if I touched the lower left corner - no matter where I really touched it. Basically, I could not do anything with it except to keep following the route it was already navigating me on.

    I thought, screw it, I'll just use my phone to navigate the last part. I have it mounted in a Perfect Squeeze on the bars anyway. But then a problem I've been having recently with my phone kicked in and the GPS on the phone didn't want to work in Google Maps. I re-started Maps once or twice and that finally started working.

    The next morning, my 660 was back to normal and worked fine the rest of my trip. But, the whole thing has me really leaning towards going ahead and springing for a Zumo XT. However, if I could reliably operate my phone with gloves on, I might try just using my phone for a while.
    #50
  11. TheLondonder

    TheLondonder Been here awhile

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    I would consider a rugged phone like the CAT, which are meant to work with gloves.
    The real problem is that, even if the screen works, apps will not be optimised for gloves so most buttons etc to press on screen might be too small for gloves.
    #51
  12. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist Supporter

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    If I were going to spend any money for a new device, then I would go for the full Monte and get the Zumo XT. As your last sentence notes, the XT is really the best solution.

    Even with an XT, I still wouldn't mind figuring out some way to operate my phone at least a little bit with gloves on. I still may work out some way to mount a stylus where I can use it. The BIGGEST annoyance to me is when I use my phone as a music source through my PackTalk. I'll start riding, then start some music. Then I'll realize that it's not loud enough and I need to turn up the music volume on the phone itself. I can work the phone's power button and volume buttons to do that... except that Android always pops up a message when I get to a certain volume that says "listening at too high volume can damage your hearing" and I have to tap OK or Accept or something before I can turn it up any higher. SOOOO annoying! I end up having to take off a glove just to tap Accept so I can turn it up all the way. Usually that means pulling over and stopping. It would be really nice to have a stylus or something even if I only ever used it just for that.
    #52
  13. scootertrog

    scootertrog Jedi Fart Master

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    I’ve seen several folks over on the Kyocera thread attach a stylus to one of those retractable reel thingies, then attach/clip the reel to their jacket. I have not tried that, but it makes perfect sense and would be a very simple, cheap solution. I use the Kyocera DFP myself, and it works 75% of the time with my gloves. Some gloves work better than others. I don’t have too much issue with just pulling off the road and taking a glove off it that’s what it takes.

    I’ve compared the XT side by side with my DFP. The ONLY thing the XT has over the DFP is the screen and touch operation. That’s all. The DFP hammers the shyt out of the Garmin as far as navigation, ease of use and route/track management/handling. And you can get a mint condition used one for under $100.
    #53
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  14. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist Supporter

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    I am willing to pay a decent amount extra for "screen and touch operation".

    I do not like to pull over in order to do basic operations. I do like a big, easy to read (in all conditions) screen.

    I've been using Garmin GPS for 20+ years, I guess. I have never really been unable to do something I wanted to do with it. Which, generally, is planning a route or routes ahead of time, using my laptop, then downloading the routes to my GPS and following them when I'm riding. All the extra stuff about playing music, planning routes on the device itself, using it for weather or live traffic data, having it figure out "fun" routes, etc.. That is all fluff, to me. I wouldn't mind having it. I might use any or all of it at times. But, the main thing is just doing a good job of navigating me along the route I want. Well, and doing a good job when I decide, "hey, what gas or food is coming up along my route?"
    #54
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  15. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    My iPhone 6s works perfect with the three touch sensitive gloves I have: a summer weight Klim glove, a leather Rev'it glove, and a cheap pair of Mechanix work gloves. No issues. I read these Garmin post for, I don't know, validation? Schadenfreude? I dunno, but I haven't seen anything here to make me want to leave my iPhone/Gaia combo and go back to Garmin.
    #55
  16. TheLondonder

    TheLondonder Been here awhile

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    The issue is that vibrations can damage a non-rugged phone, especially the camera and the sensors.
    #56
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  17. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    I agree that some cameras on some mounting systems cause problems. I haven’t had any issues with my 6s, probably because it has a low tech camera that isn’t susceptible to damage like the better cameras on the newer phones. The easy solution to that (and to other issues) is use a phone that is not an expensive, high tech, primary phone. A $60 used older phone off eBay is the answer.
    #57
  18. turtlespeed

    turtlespeed Been here awhile

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    The phones that have problem have cameras with Optical Image Stabilization. As the constant jerks and vibrations screw up the gyroscopes for OIS... and resultnatly the camera...
    #58
  19. VStromNC

    VStromNC DNS/DNF

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    I have the Zumo XT and it interfaces fine with Basecamp. One thing that I did learn is that after sending Routes or Tracks from BaseCamp to the XT, I have to restart my XT before it will see the Tracks or Routes. My old Zumo 590 was similar. I don't really care for Garmin Drive or Explore as that is the only way to delete multiple Routes or Tracks once it is on the Zumo. Yes, you can delete one track at a time from the Zumo but if you have lot of Tracks, the only way is to use the Explore app from your smartphone to delete.

    I connected the Garmin Drive app from my smartphone to the Zumo once and surprisingly enough it brought live weather and traffic from my smartphone. The only downside was now the Zumo's tiny speaker was the smartphone BT speakerphone which I did not want. I haven't tried the WiFi for sharing tracks or routes since majority of my riding buddies have the older Zumo 590's or 595's.

    Back in early August when I did Colorado TAT, I used my Zumo XT not only for the Colorado TAT tracks but also as a communication hub- MP3 music on SD card from my Zumo to my Cardo Headset, phone controls from my Zumo main screen as BT to my smartphone. The only missing feature that I had on my Zumo 590 was the Virb camera control which was quite handy to toggle video or photos from my Zumo 590 while riding. It looks like they deleted the Virb camera control but added In Reach controls.

    Not sure why they no longer include car cradle with the XT and now you have buy it separately for $45.00. I've been just using the usb cable since the XT will power and operate just fine off the USB cable.


    Jon
    #59
  20. Kshaw

    Kshaw Been here awhile

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    I don’t really want to hijack this thread but I don’t see in your post how you mounted the GPS. I have flex bars and there’s no room to use the included bar clamp.

    Does anyone know of a bolt replacement for the top clamp that has a ball already on it that is comparable? Or how did all you folks install the gps to your handlebars?
    #60