Garmin has introduced the newest member of its Zumo family of motorcycle-oriented GPS navigators, the Zumo 220. Coming on the heels of the CES 2010 announcement of the top-of-line Zumo 665 with XM capability, the Zumo 220 rounds out the series offering key features at a more affordable price. The new unit sports a touchscreen interface in a rugged, waterproof, and fuel-proof housing. Navigation features include text-to-speech directions, “lane assist” guidance, and on-road/off-road modes. Although it is less fully-featured compared to the Zumo 550 or 665, the Zumo 220 does feature Bluetooth headset capability, a MicroSD memory card slot, and improved battery life.

The Zumo 220 is designed to withstand the indignities of life in a motorcycle cockpit, with a ruggedized, glove-friendly case that is both waterproof and fuel-spray resistant. Compared to the other units in the Zumo line, the Zumo 220 is physically the smallest and lightest. The Zumo 220 uses Garmin’s Nuvi hardware platform, so it looks more like the newer Zumo 660 and 665 models. The older Zumo 550 uses a unique form factor that was not based on either the Nuvi units, nor the older StreetPilot “c” design. The Zumo 220 does retain the display from the 550. Unlike the Zumo 660 and 665, which feature a 4.3in. (10.9cm) 16:9 wide aspect-ratio LCD display, the Zumo 220 has a 3.5in. (8.9cm) touchscreen display.

Garmin is positioning the Zumo 220 as the affordable member of the Zumo family. At US$599, you will have to use your own definition of “affordable”. The prices for the rest of the Zumos start climbing from there. The Zumo 660 is US$799, the Zumo 550 is US$899, and the top-of-the-line Zumo 665 has a list price of US$999.

So what do you get for those prices? The full-zoot Zumo 665 offers the rugged motorcycle-friendly design, a larger display, Garmin’s latest base maps and navigation features, plus XM satellite radio/traffic/weather with an included XM antenna. The Zumo 660 (which is also the basis for the BMW Navigator IV) offers the same features, but leaves out the XM capabilities (reports indicate that the 660 hardware does not support XM at all). Moving down the line, the original Zumo 550 now makes up the middle of the product line. The 550’s display is smaller than the 660 or 665, but it does support optional XM capabilities.

Taking its place at the low end of the Zumo range, the Zumo 220 was designed to keep the most popular motorcycle-specific features. The 220 does not support any XM capabilities, and it has the smaller screen of the 550. The Zumo 220 also lacks some of the built-in goodies found in the other models such as an MP3 player, an audio-out jack, and Bluetooth phone connectivity. In essence, the 220 is a replacement for the discontinued Zumo 450, which itself was basically a 550 without XM capabilities.

Without all those extra features, the Zumo 220 reportedly offers better battery life than any of the other models in the Zumo line. Garmin claims that the 220 will run up to eight hours on its user-replaceable rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, compared to three to five hours for the other Zumos.

On the road, the Zumo 220 offers a navigation map screen that includes a speed limit display for most major roads. On-screen and audible directions include spoken street names with instructions such as “turn left on Elm Street,” as well as Garmin’s new “lane assist” feature which provides advanced routing instructions to help guide you through complex intersections. You can play the audio through either the built-in speaker or through a Bluetooth headset or Bluetooth-capable helmet.

The Zumos also feature a motorcycle-specific console page that displays speed, heading, and for you superbike pilots, altitude. The Zumo motorcycle console also features a customizable fuel gauge that you can set to reflect your bike’s maximum fuel range. When the Zumo tracks that you are getting near the end of your range, it prompts you to start looking for a gas station.

If you’ve ever gotten lost while waiting for your GPS to achieve satellite lock, you will appreciate Garmin’s HotFix feature, which Garmin says automatically computes and stores key satellite data and then uses that information to more quickly calculate a position. All of the Zumos, except for the 550, also include Garmin’s “Where Am I?” feature. Where Am I? lets you find out where you are on one screen that includes your latitude and longitude coordinates, and the nearest address and intersection. There are also handy buttons to quickly find the nearest fuel, police, or hospital.

The Zumo 220 comes pre-loaded with a region-appropriate version of Garmin’s City Navigator base maps, such as North America (including United States, Canada and Puerto Rico), Europe, or Australia and New Zealand. The unit also includes more than six million POIs (points of interest) such as gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and other locations.

The Zumo 220 can store as many as 10 user-defined routes in its built-in memory. This is fewer than the Zumo 660 and 665 which can hold 20 routes, or the Zumo 550 which can store 50 routes. However, you can store additional routes using an optional MicroSD memory card. Route programming is done using Garmin’s MapSource software on your computer, and you then transfer the routes to your Zumo using USB.

The Zumo 220 is scheduled to hit the stores in March, 2010. The list price is US$599.99, which includes the Zumo 220, a motorcycle mount, and an automotive mount so you can easily switch your Zumo between your bike and your car or truck.

For details visit Garmin'swebsite.

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