Garmin StreetPilot c550 -Auto Routing, Traffic Info, MP3, Hands-free Phone, GPS
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Return to Home Page ° Text by jack yeazel
(17 August 2006, Look up an address)  (21 Dec. 2006 add 'Missing DVD')
(23 August 2011, Update Waypoints Deletion)

Handset Icon Indicates a Cellphone is Locked On and Calling

This portable (only 9.2 oz as compared to the GPSmap 76C at 8.3 oz) StreetPilot c550 is about $760 (or about $190 less than the StreetPilot 7200), check for latest discount prices (HERE).

It comes ready-to-go right out of the box with preloaded maps and many options.  The unit has an internal rechargeable battery and provides the same, easy-to-use, navigation as the c300 series with enhancements like Bluetooth wireless technology hands-free cellphone calling, an integrated traffic receiver, and an MP3 player.  The unit was tested with Software Ver. 4.10.  It has only an ON/OFF button and a thumb wheel volume control on the right side.  The internal battery powered the unit for approximately eight hours with the backlight at 50%.

This unit has the new SIRF-III high-sensitivity GPS receiver -providing faster acquisition times and maintaining signal under heavy foliage and near city skyscrapers.  The screen is a very sharp, 3 1/2" diagonal, sunlight-readable TFT.  The screen is brighter than the c300 series, with one of the highest-resolution (320x240) color screens we have reviewed.  See comparisons to other units (HERE).  Configurable vehicle icons allow you to select a  customized car-shaped icon showing your position on the map.  The Mass Storage has 1.94 GB of internal memory with about 667 MB left for other data and maps.  It's interesting that the unit is "Ready to Navigate" the instant it is turned on, as if the receiver is running in the background when the unit is turned off.

The c550 appears to be designed for an audience that mainly wants Garmin to "Take you There" without having to do much computer work and not necessarily the "GPS Enthusiast".  (See Joe's FAQs).  However, for its intended purpose, it works very well.  A system based on the c550 is being installed in Avis and Budget rental cars.

The internal battery will power the receiver even though the unit is unplugged from the 12vdc.  Measurements of the battery drain from a car battery are shown (HERE).

Click on Thumbnails
Out-of-the-box parts: GPS back showing the snap-in ball socket and speakers, suction and permanent mounts, travel case
Power/FM radio plug, unlock code, and USB cable ° Hand-size unit

GPS Navigator:
The c550 comes with preloaded maps of Europe or North America and includes automatic routing, 2D or 3D map perspective, and turn-by-turn voice directions that speak street names, making "heads-up" navigation easy.
NOTE:  If you change the voice in the "Locale" section, you need to select a voice labeled "TTS" (Text To Speech) if you wish to use this feature.

Look up an address: (1250 Northwest Highway, Garland, TX 75041, submitted by a reader)
Press: "Where to?", "Address", "Spell State" (TX), "Spell City" (GARL) -at this point the unit figures out that it's Garland TX, "Enter House Number" (1250), "Enter Street" (NORTHWEST), the address comes up with the proper zip code, now press "Go!" (or "Show Map").

Screen Shot of the Address
Panning a Map:
In order to pan a street map, one must select: Where to?, select the down arrow, and then Browse Map.  From this map, one can select a GoTo or create a waypoint at other than Present Position. (The moving navigation maps can't be panned).

Waypoints (Favorites):
If you have MapSource, upgrade it to at least v. 6.11.5.  Then MapSource can recognize the c550, and any waypoints loaded into a MapSource map can be uploaded to the unit directly without having to go through the .gpx routine.  These Favorites will be ADDED to any favorites in the unit.

NOTES: Waypoints can't be deleted 'en mass' or by symbol as with all the Garmin hand-held units we have reviewed.  They must be deleted one at a time with the Favorites Edit function.   However, a reader has come up with a 'workaround' to delete all waypoints at once (HERE).

The c550 does not come with any MapSource capability.  One would have to purchase a MapSource map or Trip & Waypoint Manager in order to create, upload, or view waypoints in the unit on a PC map.

Missing DVD:
While the MapSource DVD is not included in the package, the American buyer (only) is entitled to the disk, and if they send an email to Garmin via their support web page:
including their unit serial number etc., Garmin will send you the DVD for free.  Then, using the unlock code included in the original package (on a yellow sheet), the user can install MapSource onto their PC.  With this DVD one can unlock the map in a second GPS, if it supports NT maps.  (Thanks to Paul Haring for this tip!)

Auto Routing
Splash Page "Cars" Icon Shows that Traffic Information is Being Received ° 2-D Map ° 3-D Map

From the "WhereTo", Select a Destination
 2-D Route ° 3-D Route (Streets Change to Yellow)

Some  Example Screen Shots
A close zoom level is required to display your Favorites.
Screen Shots can be Stored in the "Mass Media" (by clicking on a camera icon).

Select Routing Options °  Setting the Brightness is done Manually °  MP3 Player Control

In addition to the touch-screen display found in previous versions, the StreetPilot c550 along with its counterparts, the StreetPilot c530 and the StreetPilot c510, come equipped with new c500 series features.

"Garmin Lock" is an anti-theft feature that disables the unit from performing any functions until you type in a specific 4-digit PIN or take the unit to a predetermined location.  It is also an MP3 player and accepts customized points of interest (POIs) such as school zones and safety cameras.

Bluetooth Wireless:
Features exclusive to the StreetPilot c550 include Bluetooth technology integrated with a microphone and dual speakers that lets you to make hands-free mobile phone calls on a compatible Bluetooth wireless phone. One can view incoming calls on the c550, by tapping on the screen to answer.

Speak into the built-in microphone while staying focused on your driving!  In addition, one can retrieve and dial numbers from their personalized phone book or the phone's call history log.  You can also make calls from the StreetPilot c550's points of interest database -which includes hotels, restaurants, stores, and more.  In tests with several cell phones, synching with the c550 was remarkably easy, and the audio quality was good.

Integrated Traffic Receiver*:
A unique feature to the c550 is its integrated traffic capabilities. The unit includes a GTM-20 FM TMC traffic receiver installed in the 12vdc power plug (with lights for Power-on and Traffic reception) which notifies you of traffic, construction, weather delays, and automatically suggests alternative routes.  The traffic receiver comes with a free 3-month trial subscription (US).  To extend the initial service, visit (HERE).  Subscription cost is $60 per year.  One can pan the Traffic maps (only) by touching and sliding on the screen.
*Traffic services are available in select cities noted (HERE).

Traffic Screens
  StreetPilot c550 FM Traffic ° StreetPilot 7200 XM Radio Traffic
(Not all Traffic Information is Created Equal.  Apparently Slow and Heavy traffic are combined into Orange)

However, one can determine the severity of the traffic congestion from other screen pages.
Index of traffic events starting with the closest ° Details of the Index

Optional Software (Extras):
Optional software available on plug-in SD cards lets you add new features to your c550 without connecting to your computer.  Travel Guide gives you helpful and thorough reviews and recommendations for restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife, sporting events and tourist attractions. Travel Guide for Europe available for purchase. Travel Guide for United States is coming soon.  Savers Guide is a geo-coded coupon book that notifies you of nearby discounts on restaurants, hotels, shopping, and more at thousands of participating Entertainment businesses throughout North America.

Trip Computer

Joe's FAQs:
 1) Does it have a trip computer?  -Yes, by tapping the lower-left box on the Map Page, you get the above screen.
 2) How many waypoints can a user put in?  -Unknown but we have uploaded 500 with a .gpx file.
 3) Can a user create a waypoint?  -Yes by touching the map, but only at Present Position. (However, see Panning above).
 4) Is there a MARK key or similar?  -No.
 5) Can the unit do the "traveling salesman problem" solution?  -No, but the route can contain one Via.
 6) Does it have a GPS info screen?  -No.
 7) Can it display altitude?  -No.
 8) Are tracks displayed? -No.
 9) Are POIs displayed? -Not on the navigation map; however, they can be seen on a Favorites, Show Map, map.
 10) Are street names pronounced? -Yes.
 11) Does it have proximity waypoints to go with the POI loader?  How does this work for things like speed trap locations?
     -The c550 supports uploading Custom POIs with the POI loader in the normal fashion.  All of the attributes of the POI
     appear to be supported, including proximity distance, speed, and icons for the POIs loaded.
12) Will it play any music formats other than MP3?  MP4? other?  -The MP3 format for audio is supported.
13) Do you have to press screen buttons on the screen to get to the maps or does it eventually time out to the maps?
     -You have to touch the screen at least once.
14) Is there a computer connection? -Yes, USB to upload additional maps, MP3, Custom POIs, Waypoints, and Extras.
15) How do you update the maps when the time comes?  -It appears that you can replace the existing map in Mass Storage.
16) Does it have a Security Code? -Yes.
17) Can you delete all the waypoints at once? -No.  Waypoints must be deleted one-at-a-time.
18) Can you change the waypoint symbol? -Yes.
19) Does it have a battery? -Yes, internal and rechargeable through the cigarette lighter plug or USB connection.*
*Procedure for charging the Battery from a USB Connection: Turn the unit off.  Plug in the USB. (That turns the unit on). Turn the unit off before the maps load and before you get the 'computer picture'.  Otherwise, you can't turn the unit off.

Things We Would Like to See Improved:

Now don't get lost out there -you all!
-jack yeazel