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Howdy all, Well my buds and I are heading up to Alaska next summer and I am in the middle of setting up the strom for the ride. I am down to the nice to haves and in the market for a GPS so I know which one to ask Santa for! After much debate I have settled on the Garmin 550 and have a few questions to folks out there that have one or know much about it.

1. Do you use the XM Radio and what additional stuff is required to use it besides the subscribtion fee?

2. How do you listen to the XM Radio?

3. How do you listen to the MP3 player? Headphones? BlueTooth? (Not sure how all that works)

4. I live in Montana, will XM work in Canada and Alaska?

5. What do you not like about the Garmin 550?

Thanks!
Bill
 

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I don't have XM radio myself. I do know an antenna and subscription are required for the 550. I use headphones for MP3. Volume was too low on the Bluetooth earphones I tried and Bluetooth is mono on the 550. Also, the batteries would run down on the earphones before I had a full day's ride in.
 

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I had a Zumo 550 and it worked well, but it is pretty dated in the GPS world for what they charge. The bluetooth is Mono, earbuds are needed for stereo. The mount is OK , the tourtech is $$ but better. They use SD cards most are using mini sd cards and the screens are better as well with much better resolution. The only thing I can really say was really good was it seldom had any glare.
 

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XM stops at the US/Canada border.
???

Doesn't it work anywhere the satellite covers? Canada, yes; Alaska, not much.
 

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Satellite beam coverage is distinct. Though the satellite is visible from both countries, the beam pattern is adjustable. I am familiar with how DirecTV beams cut off very near the border.
 

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I have the 550 and 665. Wouldn't buy a new 550 although it's a good unit.

And I wouldn't rush to purchase. Droid and other smart phones with GPS are kicking their ass and I bet they'll repackage/reprice after xmas. They are already starting to offer free map upgrades on some new models.
 

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Don't the phones have to be in a service area to display maps? Wouldn't waterproofing, screen size and mounting with a charging dock be issues?
 

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Don't the phones have to be in a service area to display maps? Wouldn't waterproofing, screen size and mounting with a charging dock be issues?
Yeah, the biggest problem for using a phone as a GPS is data coverage area. There are a lot of places in New England where the phone tells me I have 3G coverage, but it takes forever to do anything, even simple tasks like polling mail servers.

And like Dana, I wouldn't buy a 550 now. It was very good for its time, but is much slower than the 66x series and has inadequate internal map storage space for the latest maps. I sold both of my 550s.
 

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Howdy all, Well my buds and I are heading up to Alaska next summer and I am in the middle of setting up the strom for the ride. I am down to the nice to haves and in the market for a GPS so I know which one to ask Santa for! After much debate I have settled on the Garmin 550 and have a few questions to folks out there that have one or know much about it.

1. Do you use the XM Radio and what additional stuff is required to use it besides the subscribtion fee?

I also have WX weather

2. How do you listen to the XM Radio?

Yes

3. How do you listen to the MP3 player? Headphones? BlueTooth? (Not sure how all that works)

I use earbuds plugged directly into the gps unit, bluetooth is a pain in the ass, I want stereo and no batter worries

4. I live in Montana, will XM work in Canada and Alaska?

I live in Canada, it works to about 54 degrees north in my experience. It does not cut off at the border. They sell the service in Canada, and they are not going to have special satellites just for us. They cover the vast majority of the population of Canada

5. What do you not like about the Garmin 550?

It is no 478

Thanks!
Bill

I don't really have a 550, but wanted to answer the XM questions.
 

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Don't the phones have to be in a service area to display maps? Wouldn't waterproofing, screen size and mounting with a charging dock be issues?
It depends on the phone and the maps. I have local maps on my phone, and it has a GPS which can run without cell network assistance, which means I can use it where there is no cell service.

My tank bag has a powerlet connection, which powers the phone, which is mounted in the clear map pocket on the top. The map pocket is a bit of a pain in the ass to look at because you're looking straight down (not a good thing), so its really more for quick reference than detailed directions.

These are significant considerations if you are going to use a phone as a GPS, something I would only do if I was in a bit of a bind.
 

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I use a Zumo 550 with XM, stereo bluetooth, here's how.......

I have been using this for one year:

Communications Main Page (Master Acessories Build Sheet)

I get STEREO xm radio, STEREO I-Pod, STEREO Mp3s on SD card, cell phone, CB radio, FRS radio, weather, Nav, all of it, bluetoothed with no wires, in stereo, into my Nolan N-103 N-Com helmet.

I use the RKA "In-Charge" tank bag in the above link with a J&M Bluetooth headset in the Nolan. The tankbag has a J&M bluetooth "dongle" that converts the Zumo 550 audio to Stereo bluetooth for transmission to the helmet.

The battery issue is a non-issue. I get 30 plus hours of usage before I need to re-charge the headset or the dongle.

J&M has a new dongle that will launch this year that uses bike power instead of battery pack. If you buy this new one, you only need to charge your helmet headset.

I love this system, everything is on the tank bag. You just unhook and tak it inside the hotel and it's safe and secure. The bag also acts as a vibration buffer and there are no wacky mounting issues.

It is a super simple, elegant solution.

The only negative, is that a full boat system is pretty damn expensive. But, I took the plunge, and it is worth every penny. I wouldn't want to live without this system on my long distance bike. I LOVE it. Super easy.

Cheers.
 
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