Monday, December 31, 2007

Garmin Gets A Lot of Love

I mentioned earlier I got the Garmin Nuvi 650 for Christmas from Santa Claus. It looks like the 650's little brother, the 350 was ranked as one of the best products of 2007 on Amazon:

Whether we're basking in the Christmas spirit, waxing poetic on a year gone by or looking ahead with renewed optimism, this is a popular time for spreading the love. And as compiled its "Best of 2007" list, among the honorees was our nüvi 350 - the "most loved" of all electronics. This is the equivalent of the people's choice award, as awards go to the products given the best reviews by customers themselves. (As of this posting, 1,487 of the 1,620 reviews were 4 or 5 stars - that's 92 percent! 1,105 were 5 stars.)

It's no surprise, really, as there's plenty to love about the nüvi 350. The first nüvi to be introduced to the public, the nüvi 350 can guide you to millions of preloaded points of interest while announcing street names along the way. To make the trip more entertaining, the nüvi 350 can play MP3s and audio books. Drivers even have the choice of adding an optional traffic receiver. All for an affordable price, making it a love story everyone can embrace.

The 650 is a wide-screen version of the 350. With the 350 getting that much love, the 650 should perform just as well. I do like the extra real estate on the screen, although I think either size model would work just fine. I've used the Garmin 330 in the past and enjoyed that too. I haven't driven much since getting it, but love what I've seen of it. I can't wait to take a road trip with this sometime soon.

Here's a comparison of the 650 to other Garmin models.

Thanks again, Santa!

P.S. -- Instapundit got the Garmin Nuvi 660 (bascially the 650 (what I have) with Bluetooth capabilities) and he seems to really like it:

SO I'VE HAD THE GPS for a while, and it's worked pretty well. Once or twice it got confused about whether a left turn was permitted or something, but overall the mapping is quite impressive, and it's never really steered me wrong. As for my earlier worries that it would cause me to lose my sense of direction, well, not so much. Keeping it on in "map mode," in fact, makes me aware of things in a new way. On the other hand, I was visiting somebody's house the other night in a neighborhood that's so new it's not on the maps yet. Ordinarily I would have memorized the route back out, and I didn't. That may have been GPS-induced laziness, or it may just have been . . . laziness.

Mom and dad (a.k.a. Santa) have the 660 too and love it.

P.P.S. -- GPS Magazine recently tested several GPS units to see which one picked the best routes. The Garmin Nuvi came out on top:

Magellan's Maestro 4050, Garmin's nuvi 680, and TomTom's ONE XL all get us to our destination address, but the Garmin nuvi chooses a slightly faster route, provides more detailed navigation instructions, and is also the only GPS to announce what side of the street our destination address is on.

TomTom's ONE XL faired the worst in this test, routing us in such a way that the destination address is actually on the left side of the street. We would then either have to make an illegal U-turn or go around the block to arrive at 135 Central Park West on our right. TomTom also has less detailed navigation prompts than the Magellan Maestro 4050. TomTom also uses yards instead of feet, which is impractical here in the Units States.

Yahoo! Maps (not shown in the table above) chooses a route identical to Garmin's route, but estimates the trip will take 3 minutes longer (1 hour 22 minutes) than Garmin estimates. Google Maps also chooses the same route as the Garmin nuvi.

So far Garmin's nuvi is in the lead in our routing battle. However, sometimes a GPS that routes perfectly well in one area can perform terribly in another region. Our first test used a trip that was approximately 80 miles in length and took us from Connecticut to New York City.

Garmin is also by far the easiest GPS unit to use out of the ones I've tried. With ease of use and best routing capabilities, it's no wonder Garmin is the best selling brand of GPS.

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