Review: Garmin Quest2 GPS

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 14th, 2005, 07:00
Category: Review

garmin-quest2.jpg

Imagine a gadget that’s so supremely cool in its ingenuity and usefulness that your wife dubs it, “damn near as good as TiVo.” In my home that’s quite a revelation. Such was my experience last Saturday night as we drove home from a party at the home of an old friend. A friend who moved some 130 miles away into the deep woods of south-central Pennsylvania. We had never been to their new place, but we were guided all the way there and all the way home by a sultry, British voice I’ve affectionately named Irene. Irene isn’t real. She’s a product of my robust little Garmin Quest2 GPS, and Irene is fast becoming the second most important woman in my life. How did I live without a GPS?

Read More…


garmin-quest2.jpg

Imagine a gadget that’s so supremely cool in its ingenuity and usefulness that your wife dubs it, “damn near as good as TiVo.” In my home that’s quite a revelation. Such was my experience last Saturday night as we drove home from a party at the home of an old friend. A friend who moved some 130 miles away into the deep woods of south-central Pennsylvania. We had never been to their new place, but we were guided all the way there and all the way home by a sultry, British voice I’ve affectionately named Irene. Irene isn’t real. She’s a product of my robust little Garmin Quest2 GPS, and Irene is fast becoming the second most important woman in my life. How did I live without a GPS?

If you’re new to the Global Positioning System thing, there are some really good places to find more information. I’d suggest starting at http://www.gpsy.com/gpsinfo/. I’ll offer a brief set-up.

GPS was developed by the US military as a system of satellites that can be used by someone on Earth to read his own exact position on the planet. Armed with that information, the GPS receiver can guide the user (either human or weapon) precisely to other points on the globe. In the 1980s the military approved GPS for civilian use and a large consumer satellite navigation market was born.

Over the last two decades, GPS receivers have gotten smaller, less expensive, more efficient, more accurate and easier to use. These days they may come loaded with maps of entire continents, topographic maps, school safety zones and even traffic ticket camera locations.

Garmin, a global leader in the GPS market, has recently released an update to their popular Quest GPS. The Quest2 enjoys the same form factor as its older brother but comes with its maps completely pre-loaded into memory (the original Quest shipped empty and required the user to load maps via USB from their PC) and it has a bit more memory.



With an MSRP of $750 the Quest2 is not a toy. It’s a serious piece of technological innovation packed into a really small, easy to use, almost uncompromising form factor. There are certainly less expensive models out there, but not with these features and a color display in a design that’s this small. It’s roughly the size of a bar of soap.

The Quest2 sports a color screen that looks amazing even in bright sunlight. It’s coated with an anti-glare treatment and is completely compatible with polarized sun glasses.



On a recent business trip from Philadelphia to Denver (a city I hadn’t visited in 10 years) the Quest2 safely and efficiently guided me from the rental car location to my hotel, then to Invesco Field (home of the Broncos), back to the hotel and back to the rental car location. I never had to ask directions or look at a map! Tremendous.



The success of a good GPS hinges on what the unit knows and the Quest2 seems to know just about everything. It can find and guide you to the nearest Baja Fresh, Borders Books, public library, airport, school, police station, hospital or Apple Store. It can take you to the intersection of your choice or to any address on the continent. You simply key in the data and the Quest2 does the rest.

If you’re a statistics junkie then you’ll appreciate the Quest2′s trip information screen which can show (among other things) your current velocity, compass heading, altitude, top speed, average time moving, average time stopped, total miles traveled and estimated time of arrival.

The life of the rechargeable lithium battery is rated at “up to” 14 hours. You charge the unit by snapping it into the windshield suction mount cradle and plugging the cradle into your vehicle’s 12v outlet. This also enables voice guidance via a small speaker (with a volume wheel) on the 12v plug.

In my battery testing, I was able to use the unit for more than 5 hours with the back light on the color display set on high. Plenty of power for day trips or short business jaunts. As with all devices of this ilk, keeping the back light turned off results in massively longer run times between charges.

The unit has a small antenna that flips up, helping it quickly achieve triangulation – a state whereby all potential satellite beacons are recognized, allowing the GPS receiver to calculate and display its full set of data. I’ve found that the antenna can be used to prop up the unit on a dashboard in the event that you don’t want to use the suction mount. While traveling I want to be as compact and light as possible so I use one of those tacky rubber gripper pads (available in most electronic stores) to keep the device from sliding around the dash. Some careful experimentation is sometimes required but with a tiny bit of persistence, I’ve been able to make the Quest stick to every vehicle in which I’ve used it.



The Quest has never tried to send me the wrong way down a one way street and it has certainly routed me efficiently to every location that I’ve asked of it, however there are times when it wants to take you on a route that you’re sure you don’t want to take. In that case, you just ignore the directions and the Quest will promptly recalculate a new route based on your current location. In unfamiliar areas, I sometimes find it difficult to believe the advice of the Quest. I liken this to the aviator who wanders off course because he doesn’t trust his instruments. While not exposed to the potentially dangerous consequences of the befuddled flyer, the disoriented driver can easily get distracted and lost should he choose to disobey the GPS in unfamiliar territory. And we all know that men have a problem stopping to ask directions from another human. I imagine my wife thinking, “Best to listen to Irene, luv. She’s smarter than you are.”

Recent Posts