Garmin nuvi GPS Review and Accessories

by Michael on January 17, 2010 · 0 comments

Just over a year ago, we got our first GPS navigator. We’ve had various handheld GPS units over the years for geocaching, but we’ve never had a dedicated unit for in-car navigation. All I can say now is that I’m glad we took the plunge.

Selecting our new GPS

After a good bit of research and hand-wringing, we settled on the Garmin nuvi 260W. This is a great little unit that comes complete with a 4.3 inch widescreen display and text-to-speech directions. It also has a jpeg viewer, travel clock, etc. While other GPS units include things like mp3 functionality, we only use it for navigation, so we don’t really care about the ancillary features.

Garmin nuvi 260W first impressions

Shortly after firing up our Garmin nuvi 260W, we fell in love. On our first use, we found a new route to the airport that shaved about 10 minutes off the 1.5 hour trip. Since that time, it’s saved our bacon on numerous occasions.

In fact, I can honestly say that the only times I’ve gotten lost in the past year have been when I’ve forgotten to bring our GPS along. It definitely makes navigating in new areas much less stressful. The routing is fast and efficient, and the Garmin software does a fantastic job of re-routing you when you divert from the recommended course.

I’ve also been impressed by the number of “Points of Interest” (POIs) that come with the maps. Just about anything you’ll ever need to find is pre-loaded on the unit when it arrives, and you get a free map update in case your GPS pre-dates the most recent map update.

Text-to-speech directions

While pretty much all GPS units provide spoken directions, not all of them do true “text-to-speech.” In other words, many lower-end units will say something like “Turn left in 500 ft,” while the Garmin nuvi 260W (among others) will say “Turn left on Main Street.” It’s a subtle difference, but I definitely appreciate the additional detail.

260W vs. 255W

In the time since we picked up our Garmin nuvi 260W, the Garmin nuvi 255W has been released. The two are very similar, with the primary difference is that the Garmin nuvi 255W has an optional FM traffic receiver, though the battery life isn’t quite as good as on the Garmin nuvi 260W.

Garmin GPS accessories

Since we have two cars, we want to be able to easily move our GPS from one vehicle to another. While all Garmin GPS units ship with a suction cup mount, we opted for the portable friction mount, and have been very happy with it.

To protect our unit when it’s not in use, and to facilitate packing it in our luggage when we fly, we also picked up the Garmin 4.3 inch GPS carrying case and a Gilsson travel case.

The former is a nice leather sleeve that provides a snug fit and excellent screen protection. The latter is a nice little neoprene travel bag that’s big enough to hold the GPS, the friction mount, and the car power adapter. Very nice.

Garmin nuvi 260W conclusions

If you’re looking for a great GPS navigation unit, I highly recommend the Garmin nuvi 260W. While there are cheaper units on the market, the price on the 260W has come way down in recent months (into the $125-$130 range as of this writing), and the widescreen and text-to-speech functionality are well worth the added cost.

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