Lowrance iWay 350c Reader Report
Reader Greg has provided his thoughts on the Lowrance iWay 350c GPS receiver. Lowrance is currently featuring the iWay 350c at CES this week. Greg’s review follows.
The 350c has much better screen than the 500 in my opinion, even though it is smaller. The 500 looks like an old fashion computer monitor (640×480) with refresh lines visible! The 350c looks like a new computer screen, very nice! Maybe because it has a 4GB hard drive? The competition doesn’t even come close to the storage space of the 350c.
The voice on the 350c is excellent in my opinion. She sounds like the AT&T lady I think. It has a setting for how much it will talk so you know it is alive (every 2 minutes for instance). It gives plenty of warning of a turn coming and is loud enough. Just turn down your car radio to listen. She can’t shout down your car stereo. She isn’t that loud. The nav screen also auto-moves with you very well to guide you.
You have several different screen options for navigation. Two 2D and one 3D view. One of the 2D views will always point North, the other 2D view will always show your street in front of you. The 3D view always shows the street you are on in front of you as well. There is also a night view with the same 2D/3Doptions.
The 350c has lots of options. Want to find a gas station? Just do a FIND, select the top one on list and click “Go To”. You are on your way. The same search can be done on multiple businesses and services, such as rest stops, attractions, medical, post office, etc.
Points of interest only show in zoomed-in 200ft view. You have to disable auto-zoom or drive real slow to see the 200ft view (and or cancel navigation). You won’t see POI if you are flying down the highway at 70mph because the zoom adjusts out for the speed of your car.
The 350c uses the NavTEQ mapping database. The best and most up-to-date GPS mapping database available. This one very important to me. Some other manufacturers use old map data from another vendor (don’t recall the name). I read too many bad reviews about that issue (TomTom units for instance), so I will stick with the NavTEQ data.
There are 3 map routing (preference) sliders that will help you avoid/prefer toll roads, avoid/prefer interstates, avoid/prefer right or left turns.
The map on the display allows you to drag it with your finger in cursor mode! So you can search around the map or preview your drive by dragging and zooming the map. This is very slick.
You also have control of how text displays on the screen. You can disable/enable various on-screen text info. You can also drag and drop the text boxes anywhere on the screen that you like! The onscreen text includes your ETA and distance to destination by the way, which is very nice.
Click on the little flag in the upper right to see your longitude/lat and you can add it to your address book to go there again.
The street search is a little funky but it works. I would like to see Lowrance add zip code to the street address search screen.
Other options include car trails, waypoints, customized POI, sound and voice adjust (there is only one nice sounding female voice for this device), redirect voice commands to a radio freq for your radio (has to be an empty station, may not work well in big cities with lots of stations), screen brightness, route simulator (the unit will simulate your entire route with voice instructions and all, see how the GPS unit works without even driving), master reset for all options, GPS status screen, gauge screen (looks like a cheap car dash mph, time, eta, max speed, avg speed).
The maps look very nice, very much like what you see on Mapquest or Yahoo maps. The detail at 200ft zoom is amazing. It actually shows one-way streets! Very impressive. You can see all water (rivers, ponds, lakes, waterways, oceans) and airports. You can not see hills.
Now for the stupid stuff. The 350c allows you to load MP3 and image files as well. If you need perfect MP3 this unit will probably not impress. You will spend all your time trying to find a clean FM freq to use. Why would you buy it for that anyway? Geeesh!
But for a GPS unit, this little toy is very impressive. I paid abt $500 at a local store, but you can get them for a little less online. I really like my iWay 350c. I would give it a 10 on a scale of 1-10.
The things I have found wrong so far is that it can not find two certain cities in my local area via the street address search. This appears to be a problem with the NavTEQ database and not the iWay. I have reported these errors to NavTEQ via the lowrance.com website.
Also, the unit shut itself off about 8 different times while I was driving over several days. I just turned it back on and all was well. Lowrance tech support said shutting off is not normal and offered to repair if it continues. Or I may instead take it back to the store where I purchased it for a new one if it continues. The tech support seemed decent and I was on hold for about 20-30 minutes.