Garmin Nüvi GPS - Review & Best Value Feature/Price Comparison

After a couple of years with the Garmin StreetPilot C320, we upgraded to a new Garmin Nüvi GPS, the Nüvi 270. Our upgrade was prompted primarily by the fact that the Nüvi 270 has European maps in addition to the US and Canada maps. This review focusing on Garmin's Nüvi GPS line is similar to the comparative review of the Garmin Streetpilot series GPS we did a while back.

Garmin GPS map upgrades costs $99.99 and $149.99 for the North American and European maps respectively, making Garmin Nüvi 27x GPS models a great deal.


Comparison:

Following are explanations of the most useful features of the Garmin Nüvi GPSs:
  1. Routing Options: Faster Time, Shorter Distance, Offroad, and multi-point functionality.
  2. Hands Free Calling (Blue Tooth) and Wireless Voice Prompts: Wireless technology along with built-in microphone, speaker, and software make it possible to use the GPS instead of your cell phone allowing for hands free calling.
  3. POI and Custom POI: Points of Interest database along with ability to add new ones.
  4. Multi-Mode: switches modes to drive, hike, bike or boat.
  5. Antitheft: Garmin Antilock allows a 4-digit pin or a pre-determined location as a prerequisite to unlock.
  6. Voice Recognition with Steering wheel mounted Remote Control.
  7. MSN Direct Content: A $49.95/year (or $129.99 one-time – no guarantees after Jan, 10 2014, not transferable to another device) FM radio based digital service from Microsoft that provides transfer of MSN content (Traffic Reports, Weather, Gas Prices, local events, news, etc) to your GPS device. Coverage is limited to metropolitan areas. MSN Direct for Windows Mobile that can also connect though cellular and Wi-Fi connections may be a better alternative, should you have another device (cellphone, PDA, etc.) with those capabilities.
  8. Where am I? – Allows finding the closest hospitals, police stations, fuel stations, nearest address/intersection, and your exact latitude and longitude coordinates.
  9. Where’s my car? - Marks your position when you remove it from the windshield mount and allows navigation with nüvi on foot back to your vehicle – ideal for crowded parking lots.
  10. Widescreen: 4.3” screen as compared to 3.5” standard.
  11. Internet integration: photo navigation using geo-coded photos from a photo-site, geo-coded camera, etc and sending addresses from google maps, mapquest, etc.
  12. Dead Reckoning (Assisted Satellite Navigation) – Estimates locations when it can’t receive signals from a satellite. Accuracy drops as time after GPS signal drop-off increases.
Miscellaneous features of Garmin Nüvi GPS models that can be useful to a subset of the customers follow:
  1. Geocaching: A worldwide game that involves hiding and seeking “treasures” called geocaches. Support for geocaching basically allows downloading exact location of geocaches and having the ability to then provide directions.
  2. Motorcycle Friendly: These features include waterproof design, motorcycle console that includes a fuel gauge indicator, motorcycle mount, and a glove-friendly touch-screen.
  3. Mp3 player, Audio Book Player, Picture Viewer, World Travel Clock, Currency and Converter, Calculator, etc.
  4. MicroSD card slot: store extra maps, travel guides, photos or MP3s.
  5. Vehicle Icon Customization: Personalize the vehicle in the map.
Features common to all Garmin Nüvi GPS models include:
  1. Display – 3.5” touch-sensitive QVGA color antiglare TFT with white backlight.
  2. Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery.
  3. Built-in solid-state memory with preloaded maps (options vary by model – see below) along with the ability to add maps.
  4. Waypoints/Favorites/Location – At least 500.
  5. SD or microSD card slot for additional storage.
  6. Base map and 3-D map view.
  7. Voice prompts.
  8. Routing options (faster time, shorter distance, off-road), Route Avoidance (avoid highways, tolls), and Rerouting (fast off-route and detour calculation).
  9. Custom POIs – ability to add new points of interest into the POI built-in database.
  10. Anti-theft (Garmin Lock).
  11. Miscellaneous features such as world travel clock, currency & unit converter, calculator, picture viewer, and car-icon selection (Garmin Garage).
Feature Release History:

The Garmin Garmin Nüvi 2x0 series was followed by a set of 2x5 Nüvi models in 2007 and included the following new features:
  1. Free real-time traffic updates from Navteq (for the life of the device on select models) - Receiver included on models 265T and above.
  2. Screen Lock Feature.
  3. Predictive technology that provides faster satellite lock,
  4. A redesigned screen with more information, terrain maps, and an exciting new photo navigation feature.
  5. USB interface to Google maps or Mapquest.
The Screen Lock Feature was targeted for pedestrian mode and as such the use was limited. Preventing accidental touches would be a great feature to add as the screen is very sensitive and it is easy for drivers to touch on unintended portions accidentally - a feature that avoids this is something GPS manufacturers are yet to provide.

The long-term success of the Nüvi line prompted Garmin to release a set of models in the 1xx0-series under the same Nüvi brand in 2009. These models included the following new features:
  1. Lower Form Factor (25% thinner than 2x5 models).
  2. Pedestrian Navigation through CityXplorer maps ($9.99 or up per city download required).
  3. ecoRoute suggests fuel-efficient routes.
  4. Public transit mode allows you to navigate using buses, tramway, metro, and suburban rail systems.
These features on aiding the company's attempt at projecting themselves as a "Green" company as opposed to features to enhance the customer experience. The pedestrian navigation feature can be useful but the cost is prohibitive. The public transit mode has limited use given the sad state of public transportation in most of the US cities.

Garmin released three new models in April 2010 - Nüvi 3750, 3760T, and 3790t. The major new feature introduced with this line is the nüRoute technology which offers trafficTrends (downloads trend data to do predictive analysis) and myTrends. They also have the newly designed glass capacitive multi-touchscreen with better brightness, clarity, and sensitiveness. The Nüvi 3760T adds Lifetime Traffic and Hands Free Calling to the base feature set in the Nüvi 3750 while the Nüvi 3790t also adds 3D terrain and buildings view.

Garmin released a set of models in the new Nüvi 2300 line, a new Nüvi 1695 model and a few other new models in the Nüvi 2200 line in the latter half of 2010. The LM, LT, and LMT in select models in this release feature Lifetime Maps, Lifetime Traffic, and Lifetime Maps & Traffic respectively. These features are quite useful and valuable - they used to be sold on subscription basis previously.

Garmin launched the Nuvi 2400 line with a 5-inch screen and ultra-slim design in January 2011.

Below is our Comparison Spreadsheet:


ProductThumbnailFeaturesList PriceBest PriceComments
Garmin Nüvi 205Speaker, Maps preloaded (US 48, Hawaii, Peurto Rico, NO Canada, or Alaska), 4.3" widescreen display, 1000 waypoints, microSD, Free lifetime Navteq traffic updates and MSN Direct Compatibility, Screen Lock, USB to Google/Navteq maps, Where am I?, and Photo Navigation, 4 hour battery.$189.99$90.54The pricing makes this a good deal.









































Garmin Nüvi 205WFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 205 PLUS widescreen display – 4.3”.$229.99$99.99
























































Garmin Nüvi 255Preloaded Maps (US 48, Hawaii, Peurto Rico, Canada, and Alaska), 1000 waypoints, microSD card slot, speaks street names, FM traffic and MSN Direct compatibility, Where am I?, Photo Navigation MINUS battery life is 4 hours.$249.99$92.60The pricing makes this a good deal.










































Garmin Nüvi 255WFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 255 PLUS widescreen display – 4.3”$279.99$119.99
























































Garmin Nüvi 265TGarmin Nüvi 255 PLUS Hands free calling (Bluetooth), FM Traffic Receiver Included.$299.99$99Excellent Value.
Garmin Nüvi 265WTGarmin Nüvi 265T PLUS 4.3 inch display, SD card slot instead of MicroSD card slot, keyboard selection$349.99$157.86


































Garmin Nüvi 275TGarmin Nüvi 265T PLUS European Maps$329.99$213.04Hands free calling (Bluetooth) and European maps for a slight premium over 270 makes this an excellent deal.
Garmin Nüvi 500Preloaded Maps (US, Canada) user-replaceable rechargeable lithium ion battery, up to 8 hours battery life, waterproof, maps (lower 48 states + topology maps), 1000 waypoints, 10 routes, microSD card slot, multi-route, FM traffic and MSN Direct compatibility, Multimode, Where am I?, photo navigation, motorcycle, and geo-cache friendly.$399.99$217.49The 500-series are specialized models suitable for multi-mode: drive, hike, bike or boat.
Garmin Nüvi 550Features of Garmin Nüvi 500 PLUS maps of the whole of US and Canada and NO topology maps.$399.99$259Discontinued.
Garmin Nüvi 755T1000 waypoints, 10 routes, SD, Speaks street names, lane assist, auto sort, 3D view, FM Traffic, Where am I?, Where is my car?, photo navigation, players, connectivity, NO hands free calling (Bluetooth).$499.99$349.99



















Garmin Nüvi 775TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 765T PLUS European maps.$799.99$225










































Garmin Nüvi 785TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 765T PLUS MSN Direct Receiver$699.99$289.95
























































Garmin Nüvi 855speaks street names, widescreen (4.3") display, 10 routes, multi-route sort, FM traffic and MSN Direct compatibility, Where am I?, Garmin Locate, MP3 and audio book player, keyboard layout selection, FM transmitter, audio jack, removable rechargeable lithium-ion battery, microSD card slot, dual speakers, speech recognition, photo navigation, remote control, 4-hour battery life, Voice activated navigation with lane assist.$499.99$132.30Excellent Value.
Garmin Nüvi 885TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 855 PLUS Hands free calling (Bluetooth), MSN Direct Receiver.$599.99$297.47






















Garmin Nüvi 1200Features of Garmin Nüvi 205 PLUS Speaks street names, Lower Form Factor, Pedestrian Navigation CityXplorer compatible, Fuel Efficient routes, Public Transit Mode.$199.99$112.07Good Value.
Garmin Nüvi 1250Features of Garmin Nüvi 1200 PLUS Speed Limits Display.$249.99$91.94















Garmin Nüvi 1260TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 1250 PLUS Hands Free Calling (Bluetooth) & FM Traffic Receiver Included.$299.99$139.74Excellent Value.
Garmin Nüvi 1300Features of Garmin Nüvi 1200 PLUS 4.3" display, keyboard layout flexibility.$249.99$120.33


















Garmin Nüvi 1350Features of Garmin Nüvi 1250 PLUS 4.3" display, keyboard layout flexibility, Lane Assist.$299.99$151.71




















Garmin Nüvi 1350TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 1350 PLUS FM Traffic Receiver Included.$349.99$161.94




















Garmin Nüvi 1370TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 1350T PLUS European Maps, Hands Free Calling (Bluetooth).$449.99$199




















Garmin Nüvi 1390TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 1350T PLUS Junction View (Lane Assist enhancement), Hands Free Calling (Bluetooth).$399.99$190.54




















Garmin Nüvi 1450Features of Garmin Nüvi 1350 PLUS 5.0" inch screen, multi-destination routing.$214.99$181.41




















Garmin Nüvi 1450TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 1450 PLUS Lifetime Traffic.$319.99$284.56




















Garmin Nüvi 1490TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 1450T PLUS Bluetooth Handsfree Calling.$279.99$217.37




















Garmin Nüvi 1690Features of Garmin Nüvi 1390T PLUS nuLink NAVTEQ Traffic (2 years free) Service.$449.99$187
Garmin Nüvi 1695Features of Garmin Nüvi 1690 PLUS 5-inch screen, Voice Prompts, Speaks street names, Lane Assist, trafficTrends, myTrends, Auto sort and re-route,Bluetooth, nuLink, Where am I?, Garming Locate,World Clock.$449.99$379.99
Garmin Nüvi 2200Features of Garmin Nüvi 1695 MINUS Lane Assist, traffic trends, auto sort multiple, Bluetooth, nuLink!, World clock. 3.5-inch screen.Maps are lower 49 plus Puerto Rico.$129.99$115
Garmin Nüvi 2250Features of Garmin Nüvi 2200 PLUS Lane Assist, US, Canada, Mexico Map.$139.99$131.46Garmin Nuvi 2250LT version has lifetime traffic for ~$20 more which is a great value!
Garmin Nüvi 2300Features of Garmin Nüvi 2200 PLUS 4.3-inch screen.$159.99$142.99Garmin Nuvi 2300LM has lifetime maps for around $40 more.
Garmin Nüvi 2350Features of Garmin Nüvi 2300 PLUS Lane Assist, Traffic Trends.$169.99$146.98Garmin Nuvi 2350LT has lifetime traffic for around $30 more and Garmin Nuvi 2350 LMT has both lifetime traffic and lifetime maps for $55 more.
Garmin Nüvi 2360LTFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 2350 PLUS Lifetime traffic, Handsfree calling, Voice Activated Navigation, 3D Terrain, Dual Orientation.$239.99$219.99Garmin Nuvi 2360LMT has lifetime maps for $40 more. Garmin Nuvi 2370LT has Europe maps for $40 more.
Garmin Nüvi 3750Features of Garmin Nüvi 1690 PLUS NO Hands Free Calling (Bluetooth), nuRoute trafficTrends & myTrends.$349.99$309.03




















Garmin Nüvi 3760TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 3750 PLUS Hands Free Calling (Bluetooth), Lifetime Traffic with nuRoute trafficTrends & myTrends.$419.99$389.99




















Garmin Nüvi 3790TFeatures of Garmin Nüvi 3760T PLUS 3D Terrain & Building View, Voice Command.$449.99$432.69




















Garmin Nüvi 5000Preloaded Maps (US, Canada), 10 routes, multi-route sort, FM traffic and MSN Direct compatibility, Where am I?, Garmin Locate, MP3 and audio book player, keyboard layout selection, FM transmitter, audio jack, speaks street names, super-widescreen – 5.3” and auto dimming, 3000 waypoints, dual speakers, photo navigation MINUS requires external power supply – no internal battery, Where’s my car? (Garmin Locate), World travel clock, currency & unit converter, calculator$499.99$199.97Specialized model designed for RV and truck drivers.

  • XM Navtraffic and Radio for US compatibility:
  • Garmin Nüvi 200, 200w, 250w, 260, 260w, 270, 350, 360, 370, 650, 660, 670, 680, 750, 760, 770, 780, and 850 are 2007 or prior models. Sites such as Walmart.com & Amazon.com sometimes have closeout deals on these. They are good deals if priced below $80.
  • *Better prices may be available through Internet deals periodically.
  • Garmin Nüvi GPS models 265 and up are compatible with MSN Direct subscription-based Service.
A note on pricing:

It is amazing how technology and competition can collectively condense cost of ownership over time. Merely five years ago, car manufacturers were touting GPS as a premium upgrade averaging around $3000 and there were instances when “GPS subscription” was marketed as a service. The detrimental side effect of this strategy was that a sizeable portion of the American consumers’ not technologically savvy implicitly assumed GPS devices required subscription. The perception of GPS “subscription” is marketing at its worst. National retailers recently recognizing this gap in reality among consumers have highlighted “No subscription” in their advertising materials. The average price of GPSs declined steadily over the years – two years back the Garmin C320 price was $280 – which was at the time, the low-end of the Garmin GPS line. In this day and age, a respectable budget GPS with 2009 maps for about $100 is a given. GPS manufacturers are spared infrastructure costs as they all share government satellite signals that enable them to identify the exact location and displays direction by using an algorithm employing map data.

Garmin Nüvi nuMaps Guarantee:

nuMaps guarantee introduced on August 2008 is a valuable benefit Garmin added to the Nuvi line. It allows for a free map update, if one exists within the initial 60 days of using the device – online registration is required to avail this benefit ($10 shipping applies if you opt for DVD instead of download). Anyone whose first use of Garmin Nüvi is on August 17th 2008 or later qualifies. The download is upwards of 2 GB, even with a DSL connection it takes a few hours to download. The guarantee is enforced as follows:
  • Registration is a pre-requisite and for a successful registration a USB connection from the device to your computer is required,
  • Garmin stores the date of first satellite acquisition in the device,
  • While registering, that information is used to determine how many days if any remain for nuMaps guarantee.
Registration also updates the OS. Checks are performed on the device based on the serial number and the map updates eligible under the nuMaps guarantee are automatically determined.

Garmin Nüvi nuMaps Lifetime:

Garmin introduced this lifetime (device) map-update program in January 2009. The introductory pricing for North American updates was $119.99. The pricing has since come down to $89.99. In September 2010, Garmin announced a set of new models (LM & LMT models in the new 2200 & 2300 series) with this feature built-in for a slight premium over the regular models. 

Summary & Recommendation:

The Garmin Nüvi line has several excellent models at good value if you are in the market for a GPS. Below are our recommendations:
  1. Best Overall Value: Garmin Nüvi 2250LT (US, Canada, and Mexico).
  2. Best Values Among Budget Models: Garmin Nüvi GPS model 265T (US and Canada maps) and Garmin Nüvi GPS model 275T (US, Canada, and European maps).
  3.  

      Related Posts:
      1. GPS Review - Garmin StreetPilot C series (C310, C320, C330, C340, C510, C530, C550, C580).
      2. Garmin Nüvi GPS - Review & Best Value (250, 270, 760, 770) Feature/Price Comparison.

       Last Updated: 02/2011.


      2 comments :

      Joenhre said...

      Can you tell me where I can find the full specs for all of the Garmin Receivers (including the # of channels) because Garmin's website seems to leave out some of this info.

      ks said...

      The Specs tab for the individual Nuvi models in Garmin's site is a good source. Example: https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=134&pID=63940

      Regards,

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