Add the Zagat guide to your Garmin GPS unit with Spot It Out – the Gadling review

Do you rely on the Zagat guide to find good places to dine? And do you use your GPS unit to get around? A new product from a company called “Spot It Out” may be the perfect product for you.

Spot It Out has produced an assortment of MicroSD based GPS guides that can be added to almost any Garmin navigation unit. The current lineup offers the 2010 Zagat Guide, the Golf Digest 2010 golf course of America guide and a road hazard and safety guide.

In this review, I took a quick look at their Zagat guide, and will explain how it is installed, and how to use it.

The Spot It Out content is stored on a MicroSD card, and comes in a neat looking package. To get the information on your unit, you simply pop the MicroSD card in your GPS unit. Devices with a regular SD slot can use the included SD adapter. Once inserted, the unit will ask whether you want to install the new data. Once copied, you can remove the card and put it back in its protective case.

To access the data, you simply hit the “extras” button on your GPS device, and select from the available Zagat cities.


Once you have selected a city, you can select from the available restaurants, sorted by distance to you. Alternatively, you can type a restaurant name to find its entry.

The “more” button displays the entire Zagat entry for that specific restaurant, listing the review, contact information, web site, the year they opened, payment methods accepted and more.

A fun way to find new Zagat rated restaurants is to enable the “alerts” feature found on most Garmin units – this will ping when you get close to a location included in the guide, making it easy to just drive around till you find somewhere decent to eat.

Final thoughts

The Spot It Out 2010 Zagat Guide retails for $29.99, and is available from Amazon. If you enjoy finding new Zagat rated restaurants, being able to add the guide to your GPS unit is really convenient.

My only minor complaint about the product is the way Garmin units pronounce the destination name – if you have a text-to-speech unit, it’ll read the entire restaurant name, along with the rating numbers, prices and more (as seen in the photo above). It isn’t a deal breaker, but still pretty annoying.

PROS: Entire Zagat guide in your GPS unit for under $30. Up to date information, easy to access
CONS: Text to speech GPS units will read the entire name, along with the rating numbers. Guides sometime suffer from poor layout/spacing

At the moment, the guides are only available through Amazon, in an ideal world, they’d also sell them as a download, removing the need to purchase the entire kit. Still, the content is well implemented, and by placing the entire Zagat guide in your GPS unit, you can leave the printed version at home.

Zagat Survey rates cruise lines – picks Cunard as “top overall”

After years of reviewing hotels, nightlife, bars and restaurants, the Zagat Survey has started publishing results of its first cruise line survey.

To generate reliable results, the survey asked cruise passengers for their opinion of cabins, service, facilities, activities and of course dining. The results were split into three categories – large ships, mid size ships and small ships (under 200 passengers). In total, over 22,700 cruise trips were used to reach a conclusion.

The winner of the “best overall” category was Cunard Line. Given the rich tradition of top class service on the Cunard ships, it should come as no surprise that they took the top spot. In the individual categories, Cunard won in the dining and facilities categories, and took the second spot in activities, right behind Disney.

Cunard Line has been crossing the Atlantic since 1840 and currently operates two ships – the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria. In October of next year, the brand new Queen Elizabeth will join the fleet.

More on the results of the Zagat cruise line survey can be found here, and a PDF with the complete results is here.

Average Meal in London now the Most Expensive in the World

Well, this is hardly a surprise: London has been awarded the honor of being the most expensive city in the world for dining out.

According to a recent article in the Guardian, a typical three-course meal and a glass of wine now costs an average of $79 per person in the British capital. Ouch!

Paris takes second place with $72. Tokyo averages $71 while New York comes in at a comparatively cheap $39.

The data is based upon the ubiquitous Zagat Guide. The most recent London edition has just been published and the 2.9% increase in the average cost of a meal from last year’s edition has concerned local foodies. As for myself, London just keeps dropping lower and lower on my list of places to visit. I’d rather just hang out in New York where the food is half the cost. And, of course, much tastier!