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  1. #1
    mjh3ides's Avatar
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    Garmin customer service gets an A+

    I recently picked up a new GPSMAP640 that comes preloaded with both road maps & marine charts. They charge for map updates so before ordering I called to make sure I'd be able to update the unit to the most recent maps if the preloaded ones were out of date & the rep assured me that I would. I bought it in Jan & just got around to registering it on their site. As promised, I was able to download the updated road maps but it showed an update available for the marine charts & wanted me to pay $99 for it. I called & the rep explained there was a new update released about a month after I purchased it. He asked me to email proof of purchase & after clearing it with a supervisor he called back & told me they were going to ship the update on an SD card free of charge.

    Before the 640 I had a 76CSX that stopped reading the SD card. Even though the unit was 3 months out of warranty they still replaced it for free. With the horrible service from so many companies these days it's nice to find one that actually gives a shit about you AFTER you buy their product.


  2. #2
    YoYamma's Avatar
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    I love my Garmin.

  3. #3
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjh3ides View Post
    I recently picked up a new GPSMAP640 ...
    Have you had a chance to use and evaluate your GPS640?

    I have been considering one, but the online reviews I have read were mixed. I like the large screen size and the touch screen instead of buttons. Not sure how well the touch would work when the screen and my hands are wet.

    May I ask what price you paid, and where?

  4. #4
    mjh3ides's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K447 View Post
    Have you had a chance to use and evaluate your GPS640?

    I have been considering one, but the online reviews I have read were mixed. I like the large screen size and the touch screen instead of buttons. Not sure how well the touch would work when the screen and my hands are wet.

    May I ask what price you paid, and where?
    I had the same concern with the touch screen as you so before buying I went into my local Westmarine & played with a display model for awhile. I haven't used it wet yet but a friend of mine has an Oregon & told me it works fine with wet hands. I noticed that the touch function is much less sensitive than what you'd have on a device like a smart phone. You really have to press hard on the screen when panning a map.

    I haven't used it on the water yet because I'm doing some other mods to my SHO at the same time that will share wiring with the 640's marine mount & haven't had time to start that project yet. I have used it in automotive mode quite a bit & am still getting used to it. It's basically identical to the interface of a Nuvi but with a bigger screen. Overall it's very good compared to my 76CSX. It does route calculations in a fraction of the time of the 76 & has much better frame rates. My main gripe is the interface in automotive mode is a little dumbed down for my taste. You have to switch to marine mode to access many of the higher level settings which is a little annoying. Other than that, so far my biggest complaint is when you switch from the map screen to the turn by turn direction page it only shows one direction at a time that you have to scroll through. On my 76 I had it setup so I could click the page button once from the map screen & it would show a full page list of upcoming route directions, which was nice as a way to preview the guided route. It also lacks some of the customizable features that I was used to. For example, on the 76 I could display up to 4 fields on the map screen of my choosing. This would be great with the 640's big screen but it doesn't have the same flexibility with the settings. The POI database is pretty impressive though. Almost every business I've had it search for was in it. The first time I used it I had it find Riva & it quickly popped up with the location as well as the phone #.

    If you're a gadget geek like me the unit's marine mode is where it really comes to life with high end features. The little screen on my 76 was adequate for using in the car but was horrible to use on the water with marine charts unless I took the time to map out a route with the Mapsource software ahead of time. That's the main thing that sold me on the 640. The fact that it comes with preloaded maps of all North America somewhat justifies the price if you're like me & travel a lot with the skis. Paying to unlock every region cost me a fortune with the 76 & I didn't have much luck finding "free" Bluechart maps/keygens on the P2P sites like I did with the road maps. One thing I noticed was the preloaded marine charts on the Oregon & Colorado had sat imagery included, whereas you need the G2 Vision upgrade for that feature with the 640. I really liked the sat image overlay feature for enhancing navigation by helping you identify onshore landmarks so I went ahead & bought the vision map for my area...ridiculous expensive but way cool. I can't wait to try out the auto-guidance & fish eye view functions. We ride in the Keys a lot where you can quickly get into trouble without local knowledge because many areas aren't marked very well. I'm hoping the auto-guidance feature will be as good as advertised for rides like that. It will be real nice to just set a minimum depth & let the 640 plot the route. The embedded aerial photos on the vision maps is pretty neat too.

    Garmin kinda changed up how they handle maps from what I was used to. I tried copying the maps from the unit into Mapsource & it doesn't work. You'll need the Homeport software for plotting marine routes on your PC. Homeport also gives you route, track & waypoint management features like Mapsource. This was one of the biggest complaints I saw from early users since there wasn't originally software available to do this when the 640 first came out. Unlike Mapsource, you don't load the maps onto your computer. From Homeport you plug the unit or SD card into your computer & the software reads from there. Mapsource can still be used for your road maps though. When I copied my waypoints into the 640 I noticed that onshore waypoints don't show up in the marine mode waypoint list which I'm not sure I like, but I guess if you have tons of saved waypoints it will make it easier to find the one you want. Both my preloaded maps & vision map are not locked products like they did in the past. There is a feature to copy preloaded maps to the SD card, so that should take some of the hassle out of loading maps to other units or "loaning" them to a friend since you don't have to go through the unlock process.

    The 640 is pretty heavy, so if you plan to use it for offshore riding I wouldn't fully trust the marine mount cradle. 5001Craig recommended this mount that he uses on his snowmobile:
    http://www.touratech-usa.com/Store/1...ebar-Mount-MvG
    I bought it for mine & it's really high quality. The only concern I have is even though the Touratech mount will prevent the cradle from popping open, there is still just a plastic tab holding it in so it's still a good idea to tether it somehow.

    I paid $799/shipped from Amazon which was pretty much the best deal I found. If you buy one let me know & I'll send you the install file for the Homeport software & save you the $30. My biggest fear with the 640 is it's been on the market for 2+ years already & I'm hoping they don't discontinue it anytime soon. I called their tech support before putting my order in & the guy I spoke to said he wasn't aware of any new product in the pipeline to replace it. It would be nice to get at least 2 years out of it before it becomes obsolete.

  5. #5
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Excellent reply!

    It does seem like Garmin isn't happy with the sales level/volume of the GPS640, and are just letting it ride. That means it is unlikely there will be any firmware improvements or fixes.

    By the time it is installed on the PWC with a high quality mount and the Vision G2 upgrade, the total cost is well above $1,000. That isn't a deal breaker, but I wanted to know just how good/bad/mediocre the experience would be.

    Do let us know what you think after you have 'water tested' it.

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