Since first writing this review, Garmin has put out many more great products onto the market, let's take a quick look of them all. I am not affiliated with Garmin in anyway. I love their product and I hope you find my guild useful in helping you choose the right GPS for your needs. To me, GPS has become an necessity than an accessory. I travel a lot both in town and out town, and a GPS eliminates over 300 pages of maps that I need to carry in the car and it gets you there without much distraction and constant stop on the road reading maps.
Garmin is the king of GPS manufacture in USA, for a good reason: great customer service, reliable device and innovative design of their constantly evolving GPS devices. I was in the market to purchase a GPS for my personal use, and was overwhelmed by the varieties of GPS each manufactures had to offer.
This guide will be concentrating on only Garmin GPS units sold in
US market. Their main steam GPS line include the StreetPilot series
and Nuvi series GPS devices.
//Garmin has completely discontinued their StreetPilot series GPS, and they also discontinued nuvi 300 and 600 series GPS. so my update about StreetPilot series and nuvi 300 and 600 series GPS will stop. This guide is Last updated on Sep 12, 2008.
Nuvi 2xx series with normal 3" screen
Nuvi 2xx series with wide 4" screen
200 series are watered-down version of (already discontinuned) 300 and 600 series. The 200
series' current street price is not as appearing as some of the 300 or
600 models. So I suggest that you are looking into the 300 or 600
Garmin currently have 11 Nuvi 200 series gps products on the market,
these are their entry level gps units, with MSRP ranging from $199 to
Nuvi 200, 200w, 205, 250, 250w, 255, 255w, 260, 260w, 265T, 265WT, 270, 275T
The major difference, or slight improvement of the 200 as
to the first generation nuvi 300 or 600 series is that the antenna of Nuvi 200 series are
build-in into the device, as opposed to 300 or 600 series antenna that
have to be folded out to use. The 200 series also added a HOLD function
so when you take your device off the car for pedestrian use you will
not accidentally touch the screen when the GPS is been put into your
are so many slight variant little details between these models, I'll
sum it up for you to better understand the confusing numbers and
The "W" version features larger LCD widescreen, 270 comes loaded
with both American and European maps, 260 have the Text-To-speech
function that spells out street names while 250 and 270 does not.
The added "xx5" series
are newer, and include FM traffic receiver compatibility and MSN direct
support, as well as replacing SD card slot with MicroSD card slot; new 3D building view in downtown areas; increated waypoints/fav locations from 500 to 1000; a where am I
button; and photo geo-tagging. They all have a reduced battery life
compared to "xx0" models.
The "T" version features handsfree bluetooth calling function.
The new hybird nuvi 5xx series GPS.
nuvi 550 GPS
Garmin recently added nuvi 500 and 550 to their automotive line. This
GPS tries to blend a little bit of outdoor fun with your daily routine
drive. Both are waterproof, and have ability to plan 10 individual trips and the ability to sort the trips you've planed. They all have new user-replaceable battery and the battery lasts 8 hours. They are all motorcycle friendly and have the ability to switch drive mode (boat, hiking, drive etc).Geocachers will find fun out of those hybird GPS because they are geocaching friendly as well. However, these GPS do not pronuce street names on the road. nuvi 500 GPS have a bit less map coverage than nuvi 550.
The Nuvi 7xx series is meant to replace the 600 series, improvements including:
Redesigned and now more compact unit with antenna build into the gps, instead of you have to fold it out like the 3xx and 6xx series.
Ability to plan up to 10 routes (great function).
Where Am I function, which finds closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection.
Car locator feature (marks position when removed from windshield mount)
Qwerty or ABC keyboard (older models only have ABC layout which is odd and slow to use than a QWERTY standard keyboard layout)
There is Nuvi 750, 760, 770 and 780 to choose from, where 780 have MSN Direct service (MSN Direct subscription fee required after trail period.) 750 lacks the option of bluetooth hands-free calling. 770 inclus both USA and Europe maps. They all have FM Transmitor which transmit MP3 music on you GPS to your car's FM radio frequency thus eliminate the need for an extra mp3 player.
In addition, the new updated version of 700 series including 765T, 775T and 785T, they added 3D building view in downtown arenas, a audio book reader and new "Lane Assist" function, which guides you to the proper lane for navigation.
Nuvi 785's new lane assist function to tell you when to get to proper lane.
The most significant and powerful GPS in the Garmin line now is the Nuvi 8xx series GPS
Most advanced Garmin Nuvi 880 GPS
On top of the improvements that the 7xx series had over 6xx series, the Nuvi 8xx series adds the following:
Voice/Speech Recognition (You say street name, it finds it, this function first appeared in TomTom's European models, but Garmin is the first in USA to add such function)
Dual Speaker design instead of one (louder more clear sound.)
Micro SD card instead of SD
Only 0.7" thick
Removeable and rechargeable battery (so you can buy extras for use off the car)
And even a remote control
There is Nuvi 880 and Nuvi 850 to choose from, they are all wide screen models, 850 lacks the bluetooth hands free calling function of 880.
Last, the whooping huge 5.2" LCD screen Nuvi 5000. This is nothing new but a Nuvi 7xx series packed in a higher resolution screen, and without any internal battery, it won't run if you take it out of the car. This GPS will be mostly useful for truck and RV drivers. It can store 3000 (compare to 500 on most other models) Favorite locations. If you have a normal car or SUV, do not get this as it blocks most of your field of view, which is very dangerous.
*Personal thoughts on Bluetooth Hands Free Calling: Unless you own a nicer car that isolates wind and road noise completely. This is a totally and absolutely useless function. Save yourself some money and time by purchasing a good bluetooth headset from Plantronics or a Aliph Jawbone.
*Personal thoughts on MSN Direct Service: After about a year's tryout of MSN
Direct Service, I have to say that the innovative idea behind this
service is great, but MSN's traffic and weather update is really slow, compared to other traffic services. For example, some accident happened couple hours ago, but the
information transmitted to my GPS hours after accident had already been
cleaned up (DOH!) If you can afford regular FM-TMC traffic
information update, get it, it's better. If not, don't bother with MSN Direct
service as of yet, because it still needs improvement.
That's about all I have to say for now. A lot of data comes from official Garmin website, so if you see any GPS device that is not listed here and would like to know more, visit their web page. And this guide will be upgraded if any models listed here is discontinued or newer models are added.
One direct competitor to Garmin been Tomtom, But I personally think that the POIs and Maps offered by Tomtom is not of equal quality of Garmin simply because Garmin is a US company and Tomtom's headquarter is in Europe. Also the routes calculated by Tomtom is less efficient than Garmin, this is confirmed by my girlfriend, she complained the tomtom's route is far less efficient than Garmin and she swear she'll never use a tomtom again. But, keep in mind this is entirely a personal perspective.
Thank you for taking time to visit my guide, and if you like it, please vote.
Below are outdated gps units, though they've been discontinued, they still remain a great buy on eBay because of their price advantage.
StreetPilot C300 series are Garmin's basic line GPS devices, offers the
most basic function of automotive GPS navigation, C340 supports
Text-To-Speech which means it will speak out street's name like "in
300ft, turn right on elm st" instead of just plain "in 300 ft, turn
right", it also supports FM traffic data (need to purchase a FM
traffic receiver and subscription though). If you purchase C310 you
are better off purchase a SD card with a capacity of at least 1GB
yourself to load entire US maps and any additional maps you wish to
load into the SD card.
Notice the C300 series devices do not
have the new SRiF High-sensitivity receiver, so you might have some
trouble navigating in busy downtown areas or airports.
Now lets take a look at the StreetPilot C500 series GPS devices.
Street Pilot C580
are an upgrade to C300 series, with C580 been current top of the line
Garmin StreetPilot GPS device with a build in MSN Direct data
receiver, that reports traffic, movie times, gas price and weather in
major metroplex areas (subscription to MSN direct for the first year is
free, then $50 per year or $150 for lifetime service). C500 series
have couple improvement from C300 series: they are equipped with
Anti-Glare high contrast LCD screen that is very sun-lit readable, they
are also all equiped with SRiF high sensitivity receiver for very quick
and accurate GPS satellite locking, even in busy downtown areas with a
lot of skyscrapers.
The Nuvi 3xx features standard 320x240pixel screen and 6xx features
the widescreen with 480x272 pixel resolution. They are all very
slim and can be fit easily into your pocket. The only difference
between these models are the fancy add-on features like hands-free
bluetooth calling, mp3 player, or types of traffic receiver build-in to
the device. The Nuvi series are Garmin's current top-of-the-line
automotive GPS navigation devices.
The Nuvi 6xx have same function as 3xx series, but with widescreen display for easy map browsing and viewing.
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