Product review: Garmin Zumo XT

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - I-90


Product Review

Garmin Zumo XT

Last year Garmin released its latest Zumo model, the XT. Originally priced at $499, the unit got a hefty 20% price drop in June selling for just $399. Even a better price when you consider Garmin's original large screen unit, the 660 sold for $650 m.s.r.p when it was released over a decade ago.

I've used a a handheld 60csx since 2005. After 16 years with the same GPS, I decided to take the plunge and buy one. If the new one lasts 16 years, that's an amortized cost of just $25 a year. A little more than $2 a month. Not a bad deal.

The move to a larger screen has been a change my eyes have been crying out for for about 10 years. Several Zumo models over the last decade proved to be rather anemic when it comes to brightness. Garmin has remedied that with the XT and makes it a selling point when marketing the unit. The screen is a high brightness HD color TFT with white backlight and is easy to read, even in direct sunlight. With so many riders attempting to use cell phones for navigation on the bike, this had to happen. It's also a fat 5.5 inches across.

The multi-touch glass used on the screen worked well when working my way through the various screens while wearing a set of Lee Parks' deer skin gloves.

Is it easy to use? The thing about Garmin firmware is that virtually every model they've ever made had firmware that varied from model to model. So getting up to speed with the current unit takes a little doing, but an hour in an armchair getting yourself acquainted is all it takes to make sense of it when you hit the road.

I do like the option to tell it a destination and how many hours you have to ride. It can create the lickity-split route or if you tell it a longer time it will provide a more scenic route.

Will you have to buy maps? Nope. If you buy it in the United States, Garmin loads it with both street and topo maps for North America that come with a lifetime update. If you want to load maps of other regions, you'll need to buy those, but it's nice to know you've got lifetime updates on this continent.

Like past Zumo units, the unit will link to your Bluetooth helmet and allow you to get turn-by-turn directions yapped at you and play music when you load your tunes into the SD micro slot. If you like to use online music streaming services like Applemusic or Spotify, you can pipe them across from your phone using the Music app.

Updates are a snap when you pair it with a local wi-fi connection. No cords required.

Additions to consider: If you plan to be in a lot of dust, a screen protector is advisable. We like the ones made by Armoursuit, available online. They're easy to put on if you follow the directions. Because I want to use this in the car, I purchased the Automotive Mount Kit direct from Garmin. The item was backordered, but that's okay since trying to get one tomorrow today will cost you an arm and a leg from a 3rd party.

Time to upgrade? We say do it!

TM/June 2021

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