Home Reviews Peripherals Garmin essential GPS

Garmin essential GPS

Garmin, maker of the nüvi range of in-car portable GPS have released four new models in the 2014 'Essentials' range – all with lifetime maps and two with lifetime Suna traffic updates.

The 55 series has a 5” screen and the 65 series has a 6” screen making it one of the larger units in the market. The web site (with comparisons of all four models) is here.

GPS are essentially for getting from point A-B and Garmin, NavMan, and Tom Tom dominate this segment. Each has a slightly different way – user interface – but essentially do the same job. Garmin is betting its larger screen and reasonably intuitive interface will win - although it has hedged its bets and makes a 7” ‘advanced’ model (not tested). Like NavMan it uses HERE maps and these are regarded, at least in Australia, as the best maps and base data.

To put this into perspective the 65LMT has an RRP of $279 and the 55LMT has a RRP of $199. Dick Smith has limited time availability online discounts – about 25% off at present - making these excellent value.

The nüvi essentials range is for the everyday driver – there are more advanced Garmin products available that use things like voice activated navigation, Bluetooth, or smartphone linking but these also cost more.

I used the 65LMT for a few days – it was easy to set up, had a familiar and intuitive interface, and did exactly as I asked. Its lane guidance (remember it uses HERE maps as the base) was as good as any other brand. The 6” screen is better than a 5” for short-sighted people.

The interface is functional yet dated. Whereas NavMan will show alternative routes and let you chose – Garmin only uses the default – fastest, shorter distance, fuel saving, or off road. Nothing wrong with this but real time route selection is a nice feature to have.

The device can be used in landscape or portrait mode. I found landscape best although portrait does work well when placed adjacent to the windscreen pillar – it presents a smaller profile to block the forward view.

Summary:

A large screen (5 or 6"), basic, portable, in-car GPS with great lifetime maps and traffic (LMT model) that will get you from A-B with ease. It lacks some advanced features like presenting multiple routes, and Bluetooth smartphone pairing (should you need it) but it is a safe buy at the price – shop around.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!