Garmin Streetpilot i3

I picked this unit up today. Halfords and Woolworths had the unit priced cheapest on their web sites, but neither would actually allow an order. When I rang Halfords, I was told the i3 was being discontinued, which would explain the price discounting I’d seen.

Garmin i3 and Nokia 6230i Lawks! It’s tiny: see the photo of it next to my Nokia 6230i for comparison.

It comes with the UK maps preloaded onto a teeny 128MB Transflash data card, a cigarette lighter 24V/12V power lead (it runs on 2x AA batteries otherwise), a USB cable and drivers CD, suction mount, dashboard mount (for the suction mount to fix to) and instruction booklet.

I had it working in under five minutes in my Ford Mondeo ST200 despite the heated windscreen elements (which can make things more difficult for the GPS, making it want an external antenna in some cases).

It took just a few seconds to set my home address and calculate a route home which it then reclaculated every time I deviated from it. The unit gives quite loud instructions and turn information and the volume can be altered or turned off. I used the “3D” view but there are two top-down views of the routing too and brightness, etc. can also be altered.

When I got home, I updated it for speed cameras, etc. The USB cable is used for modifying the maps and adding points of interest, such as speed camera locations which I downloaded from PocketGPSWorld and added to the unit in a few seconds using the downloadable Garmin POI Loader software.

Garmin i3 'fitted' to a Kawasaki ZRX1200R As for on-bike use, the i3 is not marketed as a bike unit – it’s not rugged or waterproof but is claimed to be sunlight-readable which is handy. It fits in neatly-ish between and in front of the clocks using the sucker mount, but I’ll have to see if I can get a sturdier bar mount or something similar.

For an on-bike test, I wired up an accessory socket to the Kawasaki ZRX1200R and used the supplied cigarette lighter adaptor, running the cable from the accessory socket under the seat, under the tank and behind the clocks to the i3.

I then went for a ‘spirited’ ride to test it properly. In Map View mode, the i3 displayed the location map (with different levels of detail dependent apparently upon speed), the next junction at the top of the unit, the direction in the small box to the bottom right and – usefully – the current speed in the bottom left hand box. Even in direct sunlight, the screen was readable: I have a black visor too. I didn’t try it with the voice prompts (although there are two web sites with instructions on how to wire up a headphone socket and headphone) but found it easy enough to see the screen and the speed camera warnings.

The unit can show the planned route on a turn-by-turn basis, but on the downside, you can’t program any stops into your route or make it route via a certain road or town.

So, would I recommend it? Yes. Where can you buy one? That depends: there are a lot on eBay although prices of new ones remain high. Comet sell them too – I got mine there thanks to a discount I get – or you can buy one through my Amazon shop.