The latest Garmin product line up consists of its nüvi SatNav devices categorised as Essential, Advanced and Premium models. This review is based on the Advanced range of which there are three distinct models. My review sample is the 5-inch version rather than the 4.3-inch or 7-inch units.
Predominately black in colour apart from a matte silver strip, bearing the Garmin name, running across the bottom of the 5-inch screen, this SatNav device is mainly designed for in-car use although you could easily slip it into a pocket if you do not fancy leaving it in the car while it is parked. A power on/off button sits in the top left of the unit while a microSD card slot can be found positioned on the bottom left of the SatNav device. Located on the rear of the unit are a mini USB port, loudspeaker grill and the circular docking connection compartment for when the unit is attached to the supplied cigarette lighter adapter plug. The mini USB port is used for charging the unit’s internal battery when not in the vehicle or linking the unit to a computer for downloading possible updates.
When I first powered on this Garmin device I was rather surprised to note that the unit was able to pinpoint my current location reasonably accurately. My surprise was down to the fact that the SatNav had been able to locate a satellite signal, a task other SatNav had struggled with when operating from my front room. However on subsequent attempts from the same location, the Garmin product displayed similar problems in attempting to pick up a satellite signal so maybe that initial success had more than a touch of fluke in its make-up.
Your initial options when powering up this device give you the choice of Where To? and View Map. With the latter, the map will focus on your current location and give you options to zoom in and out plus scroll around. The content of the map will depend upon whatever settings you choose to activate. When selecting your destination you can drill down through options and levels classified as My Home, Address, Restaurants, Petrol Stations and Shopping.
Also available from this initial screen are options to access various apps, adjust the volume level of your personal navigator and apply various settings including a choice of two female voices giving English directions with one of them making use of Garmin’s Real Directions™. This feature uses recognisable landmarks, street names and buildings as part of the route directions that guide you along the chosen path. I have to point out that on a least a couple of occasions, when travelling on a route I knew well, the directions given only occurred after I had already implemented them – for example “Turn left into Oakmead Road” when I was already driving happily along this road. The Apps section provides access to a Help feature, pairing a Bluetooth phone, using a trip planner and issuing various voice commands to carry out certain actions. This last feature does require a fairly quite environment to be successful.
As mentioned earlier, Garmin includes various lifetime free services with its new line-up of products. One of these features is it digital traffic data. While this service requires no fees or subscriptions, you will need a traffic receiver accessory in order to receive the data which is not available in all areas. The Garmin digital traffic service, with data being updated every minute, relies of information that is being supplied by INRIX. The data has a claimed accuracy of 2 mph of actual traffic speed under all conditions.
You also get Lifetime Map updates that are downloadable with no subscription or update fees. Just in case you were wondering, the “Lifetime” refers to the device and not that of your own lifetime. It is also depended upon Garmin receiving map data from a third-party supplier.
To ensure you are kept up-to-date with the various software updates, Garmin has introduced Garmin Express. By downloading this free software, Garmin will be able to provide you with the means to update maps and other features as they become available.
Generally I found the Garmin Advanced SatNav model provided accurate navigational information even if it did not always agreed with my favourite routes – apart that is from the two instances mentioned earlier. During solo drives I concentrated on the vocal directions rather than screen information as, from the driver’s point-of-view, I believe a SatNav should be heard and not seen. It was noticeable that the Garmin device was less intrusive and gave fewer reminders regarding forthcoming manoeuvres than other SatNav products. At first I found this a little disconcerting but soon adapted to the new regime. As yet the Garmin Advanced SatNav has not asked ne to perform a “U-turn” or got me lost. Currently Halfords have this model on sale at a price of £199.99.
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