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Customer Review

2,934 of 2,977 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars charging issues, July 25, 2009
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This review is from: Garmin nuvi 1350 Series 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Wireless Phone Accessory)
I've used this GPS for several weeks now and when it is fully charged it is absolutely great. The voice is loud and clear, the maps are accurate and detailed. It acquires satellites quickly, even in less than optimal circumstances with trees overhead or tall buildings nearby. It is easy to program and the onscreen menus are convenient. It is thin and reasonably light and portable and the screen is big. But it has one major problem: the cigarette-lighter charging system does not supply enough current to charge the GPS while it is turned on. It is unbelievable that Garmin would allow their unit to be sold under these conditions.

When I received the unit I completely charged the battery (by connecting it to my computer using a USB cable which Garmin does not supply, but I happened to have one anyway). Then I used it in my car, always plugged into the cigarette lighter. It turns on automatically whenever you start the car, and it turns off automatically when the ignition switch is turned off. However, over this two week period the battery slowly discharged (without my knowledge) until it reached a point where the unit would no longer turn on, even when plugged in to the car charger. Assuming the unit was defective, I called Garmin and (after 20 minutes on hold) learned that the car charger is not up to the task, and that the GPS will slowly lose its charge when it is turned on, even if you have it connected to the cigarette lighter adapter. I believe this means that if you have a long drive, perhaps 8 hours or more, then the unit may not even remain operational throughout the full trip. Other people have made similar complaints about some of the other Garmin GPS units.

The tech support people explained how to recover from the low battery situation: you do a "soft reset" which simply involves holding down the on/off button for 10 seconds. Then the unit will turn on, but the battery will need recharging. I was told to do this by connecting it to my computer using a USB cable, which Garmin does not supply with the GPS (fortunately I already had one), but I assume you could do the same by connecting it to the car charger and making certain that the unit is turned off while it is charging.

What a shame that Garmin has produced a superior product with a fatal behavior. I will keep mine for now, but I'm going to investigate other charging solutions. Perhaps after reading this review, the wizards at Garmin will redesign the charging system for this GPS.

Update (Aug 1/09): I discovered the reason for these charging issues: In the User's Manual, under "Troubleshooting", Garmin states that the Nuvi will not charge if it is in direct sunlight or if the temperature is more than 113 degrees F (45 deg C). Since I had my unit attached to the windshield, and since I only drive during midday, it is always in sunlight. This charging rule applies to many other models as well; for any given model you can download the manual from Garmin, turn to the Troubleshooting section, and see whether or not they describe a similar charging rule. (The rule is probably meant to avoid overheating the battery: lithium batteries can occasionally catch fire if they are severely overcharged or overheated.) I think this explains why some people have encountered charging problems and others have not: it depends on whether or not the unit is always in direct sunlight while you are driving. Some people use the friction mount and their Garmin sits on the console. Others drive later in the day or at night.
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Tracked by 18 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 73 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 29, 2009, 7:15:04 AM PDT
Mark what is the best way to maintain a strong battery level? If the car charger doesn't actually work, I would assume if I am on a 5 hour drive the GPS will stop functioning. That can't be good for business. I just got my 1350 and love it, but did notice just this morning that when I tried to use the unit without plugging it in to the car charger it died. When I plugged it in it did work. Maybe I need to not use it and charge it on the computer for about 8 hours to fully get it up and running (although I swear I checked the battery capacity at 87% two days ago and I rarely play with the device when it is not in the car, hmmm). Thanks for the heads up, we'll see what Garmin does to correct the problem.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2009, 8:00:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 29, 2009, 8:04:35 AM PDT
mark goresky says:
Hi Casey, I've sent email to Garmin tech support, inquiring about these issues, but they have not replied yet. When they reply, I will update my review. In the meantime I've done a few experiments. I had a 1 hour drive coming up, so the day before, I deliberately ran the battery halfway down by using the gps without connecting it to the charger. (This did not take very long. If it's not connected to a charger, the gps battery will probably run down in an hour or two.) On the day of my 1 hour drive, I connected the gps to the car charger, started the car and *turned the gps off* during the drive. At the end of the hour I checked, and the battery was fully charged, according to the onscreen battery display (which you can only see when the charger is not connected). So my conclusion (which could be wrong) is that the unit charges pretty quickly from the car charger, as long as the gps is turned off. Probably when it is turned on, the gps draws just a little bit more current than the charger supplies so the battery runs down very slowly. By turning it off, all the current from the car charger is dedicated to charging the battery: this seems to work and it's more convenient than connecting the unit to the computer for 8 hours. I haven't done any experiments with a long drive so I don't know how long it will take for a fully charged battery to run down during the drive, but I'll bet you can get at least 5 hours out of it (maybe 7 or 8 hours?), and I suspect that by lowering the screen intensity a bit, we might reduce the current draw enough for the car charger to keep up with the demand indefinitely. On most GPS units, a large fraction of the current draw goes in to lighting the LCD screen. (This is about to change since some newer LCD screens use LEDs for backlighting.) More info as it becomes available...

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2009, 8:14:27 AM PDT
Thanks for the advice, appreciate it!!

Posted on Jul 30, 2009, 7:04:16 PM PDT
S. Webster says:
Do you think this battery power loss problem is unique to the 1350? Have you had better luck with other Garmin models?

Posted on Jul 30, 2009, 7:05:11 PM PDT
S. Webster says:
Do you think this battery power loss problem is unique to the 1350? Have you had better luck with other Garmin models?

Posted on Jul 30, 2009, 7:05:28 PM PDT
S. Webster says:
Do you think this battery power loss problem is unique to the 1350? Have you had better luck with other Garmin models?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2009, 7:34:12 PM PDT
mark goresky says:
I don't have any direct personal experience with other Garmin models, but I have friends with Garmins and they are absolutely satisfied with them. The 1350 is a very new "thin" design with a wide screen and I can imagine that its power requirements might be different from that of previous models. There are various postings at various websites complaining about similar issues with other models, but they generally appear to have been resolved, or perhaps to have been traced to a defective charger or other component which was then replaced. I think the 1350 is in a new family that includes the 1350T and the 1370T and maybe the 1390T, so one might be suspicious of these models too but I do not have any firsthand knowledge. There is an Amazon reviewer for the 1370T who says that his car charger did not "work"; perhaps this was a symptom of the same issue? So from my limited experience, it seems that outside of this new "family" of very thin, widescreen units, there should not be any charging problems. But one might be suspicious of the 1350 "family" and it would be interesting to hear from someone who has a 1370 or a 1390.
I should add that since making my experiments (described above) I regularly drive with the unit off when I don't need it, which gives it time to charge, and although this is a bit inconvenient, it seems to work very well. Aside from this charging issue, the unit is incredible. I am still waiting to hear from Garmin tech support in answer to my questions concerning the charging issue, which I sent to them 1 week ago...

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2009, 8:03:22 PM PDT
Brainstorm says:
With the 1350's Public Transit Mode and Pedestrian Navigation Capability, this unit needs to perform BETTER than others regarding power. I was interested in getting one largely because of the Pedestrian Navigation, but I'd want to be able to use it while driving and then have it fully-charged when I took it with me for pedestrian use.

Thanks for your review and comments, Mark. I hope the problem gets resolved to your satisfaction.

Posted on Jul 31, 2009, 9:34:43 AM PDT
Gabby2010 says:

I am not sure if this applies to GPS, but when I used to charge my cell phone in my car charger and was having issues with the battery , a tech person told me that I should only have the phone plugged into the car when it actually needs charging and that if I just keep it plugged into the car charger it will ruin the battery. Has anyone heard of this before?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2009, 10:58:50 AM PDT
mark goresky says:
Hi BranchDesign, thanks for the suggestion.
Yes, I believe that can happen with the older (nicad and nimh) batteries and the "dumb" chargers that came with them -- those chargers would keep putting current into the cells even after they were charged, eventually destroying the battery. This is still a problem with many cordless telephones, dustbusters, rechargeable bicycle headlights, etc. For these devices it is important not to overcharge the battery. But most cell phone chargers are now "smart chargers" that monitor the state of the batteries and shut off when the battery is fully charged. With lithium batteries (such as in the gps and most modern cell phones) this is a necessity because a badly overcharged lithium battery can occasionally catch fire. So it is my impression that there are no "dumb" lithium battery chargers on the market any more, but perhaps I'm wrong about this. Anyway, I'm fairly confident that this is not the cause of the problem -- the lithium battery in my gps has not been destroyed and it charges very well by either of the methods I mentioned above (usb from the computer, or car charger with gps turned off). Incidentally, all rechargeable batteries eventually wear out after repeated charge/discharge cycles but most modern lithium batteries can handle 100 charges; some as many as 200 charges.
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