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1,809 of 1,825 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2008
I bought the GARMIN nüvi 260W to help with work and family travels. After extensive research with Magellan, Mio and Tom-Tom, I bought the Garmin for three reasons. 1) Ease of use. 2) Screen clarity. 3) Amazing accuracy. And no, despite where I live, I have no affiliation with Garmin. I don't even know anyone that works for them. I am in the architectural business.

I have tried several GPSs while traveling with business associates, friends or in rental cars. As such, I have seen them in real world action. All of the devices saved me time and most found the place I needed to be. I could used any of them and been somewhat satisfied.The problem: I am a perfectionist. As such, I want the unit to be the best. So, after using a text-to-speech Garmin GPS unit earlier this year, I knew that was one feature I could not live without when I pulled the trigger on a purchase. Text-to-speech is a must have on GPS. A MUST. If you have never used a GPS, trust me, you have to have text-to-speech. It eliminates the frustration of urban driving and having the non text-to-speech units tell you to turn right in 200 feet, only to find two roads that are 200 feet away and have to pick one and hope it is right.

I decided to wait until a wide screen GPS came out that didn't have so many bells and whistles and was priced fairly. The GARMIN nüvi 260W 4.3-Inch fit the bill. Pulled the trigger still knowing that GPS units drop in price every month it seems and I would knowingly be mad in 90 days when the unit was 20% cheaper (oh well).

Back to the GARMIN nüvi 260W...I am amazed how it can find the driveway of my house at the end of a cul-de-sac directly adjacent to a road that is named the same. It is so accurate that it lets me know if I pulled into the wrong driveway 15 feet away from mine (I know, I tried it). It is so easy to use; I didn't even use the manual - once. It is that user friendly. I even downloaded new voices via the Garmin site without a manual. I like the fact the screen is very clear and refreshes quickly. I can even use my polarized sunglasses with the Garmin 260W screen and it does not distort the screen colors or have numerous horizontal lines (if you use polarized glasses, make sure to try out any GPS screen before you buy. Many look blank when using polarized glasses).

The POI seem to be pretty good, but I really haven't used it long enough to evaluate POI depth. I do know that the maps seem to be fairly accurate in terms of new roads since I have yet to find a road that does not exist on the map.

Not everything is perfect with the Garmin 260W. The downside is the time to acquire a satellite. The 260W takes longer than I like...sometimes up to one minute. However, once it gets a hold of the satellites, it never looses them. Plus it gets such a strong signal (with no external antenna); I can use the device on my lap in the passenger seat (when I am not driving and after it finds a satellite). Another couple of downers are it has very few voices that work with the text-to-speech feature. I hope Garmin increases the choices via a web download in the future (I want celebrity voices...please). Plus, I would have liked a case, any case to be included for the price I paid.

Overall, the unit is amazing and the larger screen size of 4.3 inches really helps those with fat fingers and those that don't want to squint to read a map. I am just sorry I had to wait this long to own one. It is a must have for those that travel to unfamiliar areas.
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1,187 of 1,212 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2008
I received the Garmin Nuvi 260W as a gift. I have subsequently read comments about many different GPS units and have concluded that:

-a hand held GPS is a complement to, not a substitute for a good road map and some common sense. All GPS units have positives and negatives; none are absolutely perfect. These are not toys, but they are not self sufficient navigational tools either. Given enough time, every owner of every unit will have a story about how he couldn't find a particular point of interest, or was directed down a dead end street or across a 4-lane divided highway!

-considering screen sharpness, ease of use and other features, the Garmin 260W is one of the best in its price class.

-Garmin also has the best customer service of any of the companies.

The purpose of this review is NOT to repeat what others have written but to discuss workarounds for the various limitations of this unit.

COMPUTER ACCESS: To download firmware, software upgrades and maps, access to garmin.com is a virtual necessity. Since a computer cable is unfortunately not included with the unit, the user will need to buy a USB 2.0 A / mini B cable. It can be found on Amazon.

At garmin.com, download the web updater and whatever updates it prompts and also, remember to download the updated TTS (Text to Speech) voices. We find that "British" English is sometimes easier to understand than the American counterpart and suggest that it be downloaded as well.

The USB cable will also charge the Garmin's battery but the unit does not operate when plugged into the computer. The optional AC converter is only required if the user wants to operate the unit on 110 volts.

SATELLITE ACQUISITION: Failure to reliably acquire satellite is the biggest single weakness of the Garmin 260W and the reason for the 3* rating. The user never knows in advance whether, after the 30 second boot up, it will take 15 seconds or 15 minutes to find a satellite.

Customer service suggests that the preferable satellite acquisition position is the top edge (NOT the face or back) pointed straight up to the open sky with the unit held still (which means you should not be driving).

When the unit is powered up out of the box and acquires a satellite for the first time, leave the power ON for an hour to download almanac data.

If the unit is moved to a new location with the power off, powering up the unit is similar to an initial power-on, and it can easily take 15 minutes to locate new satellites.

If all else fails, do a hard reset (see the instructions for "clearing user data"). Note that all user data (favorites) is in the gpx file in the gpx folder so save it to your computer and restore it after the reset. Again, leave the unit on for an hour after satellites are acquired.

POINTS OF INTEREST: Some of the data is not current. If a particular restaurant, etc., cannot be found, enter it by its street address and then change the name.

MODIFYING A ROUTE: This unit is less flexible than some. If a favorite place is selected and the GPS simulator mode activated, the proposed route will be highlighted. "Sliding" the screen with an appropriate magnification will allow the route to be compared with a computer or road map alternative. To force Garmin to select a particular road or direction, add a VIA point (gas station, motel, whatever). Because Garmin only allows one via point per route, several such points may be needed and the driver may have to skip stop between them.

ADD: June 26th. The Garmin 260W will NOT display routes downloaded from Mapquest. That feature is reserved for more expensive units.

ADD: June 26th. Failure to arrive at a specific house number may relate to mistakes on the part of developers, subdivision planners or mappers rather than the GPS. If necessary, give an address TWO favorite places - one labeled (per gps)that has the desired address; and one labeled (actual) determined by touching the car icon when standing in the driveway.

ADD: Aug. 4. Polarized sunglass lens fix: If you have the brightness set low (to conserve the battery when walking or biking, for example), polarized sun glasses may make it difficult to read the display which is also polarized. But, if you turn the display VERTICAL, the polarized settings will align and the display will immediately brighten up.

BATTERY LIFE: We've run two hours on battery without losing a green bar. Battery life can be extended by reducing the brightness level to the lowest acceptable.

In summary, the Garmin Nuvi 260W will do pretty much everything it is supposed to do EXCEPT acquire satellites quickly every time. If the company fixes this problem with a new firmware upgrade, the 260W deserves 4 stars. If the unit were also to allow multiple via points and route selections, then it would, in our opinion, earn 5 stars.
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390 of 406 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2008
Verified Purchase
I've used this product for several trips and I've never used another GPS. I love the text-to-speech feature, which is very natural; the instructions are usually very clear, but it is worth glancing at the green bar at the top of the screen to see the full instruction. The map with the graphics can often clear up confusion. The other great thing about the map is it labels upcoming streets so you are not peering at street signs.

I purchased the friction mount, which is great because I can take it off my dash and put it under the seat very easily. Around here, there have been a lot of break ins of cars with suction marks on the windshield.

A couple of glitches so far:

1. The Nuvi did not know the street that I was headed to in West Virginia.

2. Once in West Virginia in the mountains, the Nuvi could not pick up a satellite signal.

3. Out on a road trip, I stopped at a restaurant. I restarted my car and turned the Nuvi on again; I have the security feature on, so it asked for my pin. I misentered the pin -- AND IT LOCKED ME OUT UNTIL I RETURNED TO MY HOUSE. That's it -- one shot -- get it wrong, and no navigator for you. Even my ATM machine lets me try more than once. I'll check to see if you can set the number of tries, but I don't think you can.

4. Occasionally it gives instructions that can't be followed -- like when it wanted me to get over four busy lanes in 0.2 miles.

5. Note that when it says "Keep Left" it does not mean, get in the left lane. It means don't take the swerve to the right option by mistake. I got over to the left and was then told to exit right.

6. If the next turn is coming up very quickly, the Nuvi will give you the next instruction immediately. But I turned onto a highway where I had to go 40 miles; and the Nuvi did not give me the next instruction until we were almost on top of the exit and it was too late to get into the lane to make the turn.

I'm still really happy with my purchase and it will be endlessly useful navigating in more urban environments. It recalculates routes quickly. It also tells you on what side a turn or ramp is, which is wonderful.

LATER: Maybe I missed this in the instruction manual, but there are some other neat features that I discovered by playing around. 1) If you touch the car symbol, you get the option of saving your current location as a favorite destination; 2) If you touch the green bar at the top that contains a direction, you can see and scroll through all of the directions so you can see which way you'll be going; 3) I stumbled into a way to set a way point (although I don't remember how). There's no particular reason to have a waypoint -- that is, you can route to your first destination and then route to your second, so no difference; except perhaps if you are trying to generate an alternate route to your destination by perhaps avoiding a closed road.

Would love to have, but don't think it does, a feature that lets you select a particular turn or direction in the list to route around.

This is the only GPS I've ever owned, so my next comment is probably applicable to GPS systems everywhere, but I've found that the Nuvi is quietly changing my life by making me bolder about going to new places, particularly if it involves night driving. Trying to drive to a new place by yourself juggling your complicated handwritten instructions or your printout from Mapquest was always a challenge; doing it at night was downright stressful. You still need your directions just in case, but with the Nuvi I haven't had to look at them yet. I didn't realize how narrowed my world had become because I hesitated to drive to some place I had never been.

LATER: See user comment below that claims that if locked out you can simply power Garmin off and on and try again. I haven't tried this, as I have disabled the security function.

Also, I was in an insanely complicated intersecting freeway knot and I took a wrong turn. Garmin's recalculation was sufficiently slow that I had real problems getting back on the right track, as I had to keep making decisions to turn long before it finished its recalculations. I had to choose some random direction and go in it long enough to allow Garmin to recalculate the route. So it's not perfect.
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103 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2008
Verified Purchase
Over the years, I have gone through all the major providers of GPS-enabled mapping software. Eventually settled on Garmin maps as the most up-to-date, most frequently updated. Hating to carry lots of gadgets, though, I have for several years been using Garmin maps on my PDA (Treo 700w).

Worked OK, getting GPS coordinates from a Garmin 10 via blue tooth. But, often required resting reading glasses on the end of my nose so I could make sense of the information and imagines on the small screen. Not particularly safe way to drive, of course.

No need for glasses with the large display on the 260W. I am very glad I went with the wider screen. It's not so much that there is more to see on the map as it is the case that the device takes full advantage of the wider screen's capabilities for messages on what's coming up, icons and boxes that may need to be touched to move among screens, make adjustments. Easier to operate while driving (which, of course, none of us do).

I am also glad that I went for the model that includes vocalizing street names. Does really improve confidence in following the Garmin's guidance when in unfamiliar areas and makes for safer driving.

As with all such products, local knowledge will sometimes beat the route-finding software. But, it gets you there.

Mine came loaded with City Navigator 2008. As I write this, it's late March 2008, and the Garmin web site projects that City Navigator 2009 will be out in April. Should determine what your unit comes with and, if it's 2008, will you get a free upgrade to 2009. Updates are essential in my opinion and a significant annual cost of owning such devices.

I also bought the weighted dashboard mount. It sits unopened as the window mount that comes with the unit works great on my car and the numerous rentals I end up in.

SD card reader slot is interesting. Works fine but what's it's purpose? I did put hundreds of photos on it and the Garmin will display them. Picture software is very basic though (e.g., even though related photos are organized by folder on the SD card, slide show program throws everything it can find into one hodgepodge show). Plugged into an USB port (cable not included but you may well have the required one that came with some other device - I did), the Garmin becomes an SD card reader. Maybe that has some value to someone. And, maybe there is just something I am missing here.

Other products provide endless possibilities for customizing screens. This device does not and that took some getting used to. Makes it much simpler to operate though and, after some adjustment, I am generally comfortable with the choices that Garmin decided to make for me.

But 5 stars because just cannot beat the big, wide, bright screen.
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142 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2008
This is my first standalone GPS receiver (I have previously used a computer-based GPS - too bulky for everyday use). Overall, I'm pleased with my purchase. FWIW, my "disclaimer" is that I was a satellite technician on the Block II GPS (NavStar) satellites. So, I actually worked on the satellites themselves (vehicles 13-24) for almost 5 years, but I'm just now getting a unit for our cars. Go figure! ;-)

On to my review...

The Good
* The screen is wide and clear. About the only time I had trouble seeing it (glancing, really) was driving towards the sunset with my sunglasses on. You really can't expect it to overcome that level of contrast, so I don't fault the display for this.
* Reasonably fast calculation. The computer-based GPS I am replacing with this unit often took several minutes to calculate a multi-state trip. This unit typically completes route calculation within 20 seconds or less.
* It does a recalculate pretty quickly as well (typically just a few seconds). So, if you decide to take a slightly (or even radically) different route, it "goes with the flow" and will still get you there.
* I was concerned about this unit not having a way to output the audio to either an external speaker or to the car FM radio (these features are available in more expensive Nuvi models). I was pleasantly surprised at how clear the TTS voice is, albeit a bit distorted from time-to-time. On occasion, I had to turn down the radio or pause my iPod to hear what it was saying, but for the most part it is very clear and understandable.
* I've not tried to stress the battery life to the max, but I've been pleasantly surprised so far at how long I can use it without being plugged in. It's not a unit designed for extensive hiking/backpacking, but for short hikes it seems like it will at least keep you oriented in regard to roads, etc. I've not explored (pardon the pun) whether or not one can load topographical maps for off-road use.
* Size and portability. This is a nice, slim unit. I can put it in my shirt pocket and carry it with me. Even with the suction-cup mount and power supply, it's fairly easy to move from vehicle to vehicle.
* Satellite acquisition is good. Unlike another reviewer, so far I'm pleased with the speed of acquisition. My laptop GPS unit almost always takes 1-2 minutes to be good to go. The Nuvi typically takes only 15-20 seconds to acquire if I'm out in the open (i.e., not between tall buildings, indoors, under a bridge, etc.). I've ready what other reviewers have said, but I've not experienced it so far (I probably just jinxed it, however!).

The Bad
* The documentation is bare-bones. Even when visiting the Garmin website, I found no additional information on how to use the device to get additional features to work. Sure, you can upload pictures for viewing (woo hoo!) and upload "cool" (read: "Dorky") vehicle 3-D icons, but other than that - the "Quick Start Manual" seems to be all there is.
* About 20% of the time, there seems to be a slight hesitation in the voice - almost like it is loading something from the flash memory. It ends up sounding something like "Turn r...ight on M...ain Street". Still understandable, but a bit disconcerting.
* There is a way to search for intersections as a destination point. All fine and dandy, but you still have to know the exact names that the Garmin unit will identify these intersections with. If you are trying to get to a major highway intersection, you would do best to zoom in on it and "click" (with your finger) the roads involved to see what they're named. Either memorize them or write them down, because once you go back to finding that intersection, you'll need to refer to that exact name (e.g., if it says "Bell Blvd." even though you know it's also "Highway 183" - use "Bell Blvd."). Even having a computer open running Google Maps doesn't always help you as Garmin's map supplier may not agree.
* As related to the above point, unlike online resources like Google Maps, Mapquest, etc. - you can't just have it direct you to a town or city. You *have* to know the actual address or intersection or it will refuse to try to route you. It would be _nice_ (HINT, HINT - Garmin!) if it would just say "well, here's an arbitrary address in the city you've requested" and let you deal with the consequences.

The Ugly
* As I'm sure many purchasers will do, I tried it out around my home location (trips to the grocery store, work, etc.) just to see how it would perform. I often found that it chose routes that I knew were not optimal. When I would deviate from its suggestions, it (thankfully) doesn't fuss and say "Off route" as I've heard other units do. It simply recalculates and things straighten out. However, I would like a better way to "encourage" it to take a particular route other than creating a via point (and you *only* get one per trip!).
* Trying to plan a trip via this unit is frustrating. It is really designed for point A to B driving. Granted, I knew that when I bought it. However, it seems that the interface could have been improved a bit in trying to set up a multi-stage trip. The only way around this that I've found is to: (a) Search for a location, (b) go to Recently Found Locations (or whatever it's called), (c) Save the location. Once you've done that, you can reference this point in your favorites and use it as an anchor for your trip.
* The voice prompts can be a bit overdone. "In .2 miles, turn left at Main Street" - immediately followed by "Turn left at Main Street". I realize this is the correct default behavior, but it seems that there should be a way to adjust the threshold of the "nanny" approach. It's not a huge deal - it just gets irritating when you have a lot of turns.

Summary
Besides the peccadilloes I've mentioned above, I still really like the unit. My advice is to do advanced planning (using a computer) to get a feel for the layout if you're going on a long trip. Create via points where they make sense (and save them to your Favorites). Be willing to break up longer trips into smaller ones just so you can get better/more customized routing from the unit.

+ Great screen visibility, TTS clear and correct pronunciation, works pretty well for what it was designed to do.
- Interface limitations/poor choices, refuses to help "guess" destination points, relies far more on built-in help than even what Garmin's website has for documentation.
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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 20, 2008
The Garmin Nuvi 260W is a great little GPS:
The text to speech is clear, the screen is more than bright enough, the maps are large on the 4.3 inch screen. Route calculation is fast.
I regularly use it on battery power which is long, 4 or 5 hours, even more if you turn down the screen brightness.
However, it seemed at first that satellite acquisition was very slow, sometimes as long as 12 minutes.
I think I found a way around that.
If I turned the GPS off at home, it located satellites within 30 seconds of being turned on again at the same location; if turned off before arriving home, which I was in the habit of doing, it took about 12 minutes to acquire the present location.
It seems it did not know where to look for the satellites, and took a lot of time finding them. A software fault probably, but workable.
After I discovered this, I left the unit on up to my destination and the problem was solved.

Something nobody seems to have mentioned; when a store or restaurant is located by this unit, it gives the address AND the phone number of the intended location, and I can call ahead and make sure they are open and have what I want. This has saved so much time.
Also, touching the car icon on the map gives you a workable "Where am I?" which can be saved to favorites.

The 260W does not have all the features of a higher end Garmin GPS, like routing, blue tooth, traffic, etc, but Garmin has deliberately omitted these from the (slightly) lower end products.
The documentation is very limited, but reading a downloaded pdf for the Garmin 350 helps with the 260W.
Garmin seems to believe that no one wants to read a manual.

All in all, a very good GPS, very easy to use. Garmin may have proved that no manual is needed.
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95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2008
Beacause I do so much traveling this GPS offered ezactly what I was looking for. Portable GPS with voice directions and an easy to read screen. These feature work very well and it is very customizable.

PROS
Small device with Wide easy to see display
Voice directions are clear
Device automatically readjust directions if wrong turn is taken
Easy to use device no instructions needed

CONS
No travel case included
Extra parts will need to be purchased if you want system professionaly installed
Not much documentation
Device always poers on when car starts, this should be my decision but i can turn it off.
Maintains travel averages (speed with min. max.)

All in all I am very satisfied with my purchase. I would advise to shop for the best price before ourchasing.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2008
I did my homework before buying my first GPS unit. I did not want nor need the top of line units with all the bells and whistles. I had rented a couple of cars with GPS units and found out what I liked and what I didn't like. First off, do not but any unit without the text to speech feature. Without this feature the unit will tell you that your turn is approaching but not the name of the street. The text to speech feature will speak the name of the street that you need to turn on. This feature is a must have. Without it you will staring at the screen waiting for the update to see if you are nearing your turn. With this feature you can listen without the need to be looking at the screen. The wide face is very easy to see. I knew that it did not come with a carrying case but since it never leaves my car that was no big deal. I also bought the bean bag holder and I have not even used the suction cup. I was warned that thieves may target cars with a suction cup ring on the windshield as they assume that the unit is in the car. I stow the unit in my center console when not in use and put the bean bag under the seat. This unit starts up in about 30 seconds and I have not opened the user manual once. It is so easy to use right out of the box. If you are looking for an easy, accurate GPS this is a very good pick.
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264 of 299 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2008
So many 5-star reviews give potential buyers a false sense of confidence. As a matter of fact, after you read those 5-star reviews, you realize those users also complained about the same flaws. I always think 5-star should reserve to a product near perfect or meet all of its stated specifications. NUVI 260W is very useful but with some flaws:
1. The sensitivity & time to acquire satellite signals are not good enough. While I was in San Jose airport, with same location in the waiting area, nuvi 260W never acquires the signal successfully. However, mio c310 easily got it. Also the time to sync the satellite signal is not preditable. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes or forever. Sometimes it takes only 10 seconds after turned off for a short period of time & turned on again. This inconsistency is really annoyed if you are in a hurry.
2. Every time the unit is turned on, it goes through the same time-consuming power up sequence. It should be designed to retain the condition just before the previous power-down. After the first time use, the unit power-up time should not be more than 5 seconds.
3. The Text-to-Speech feature is great except the voice is not very clear. The person sounds as if she got cold or there is a hole between her teeth. A good product should not be released with beta test. The voice should be human-like, not computer-like.
4. In pedestrian mode, you walk & navigate with 260W, it doesn't do anything except the map shows where you are & very jerky, not stable at all. There is no Text-to-Speech, not even say anything at all. This must be a design flaw & must not pass beta test, let alone product release.
5. Battery usage is about 2 hours after fully charged, not 5 hours as claimed.
6. I found that SD card, mpeg or jpeg features of most GPS are not very useful. Either they are too primitive or not user-friendly. I bet most people don't care about them at all.

I used nuvi 260W only for three weeks & found it useful enough except the above areas mentioned can be & should be improved.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2008
Verified Purchase
Garmin is really getting it right. I first used good GPS in a Hertz rental car. I was so impressed, I tried to buy one. It was a very complex machine, cost well over $1,500. The Garmin Nuvi 260W is even better. It always pays to wait. I don't think they can get it much better than this. Really happy with this device. It is so accurate, it can tell if I pull into my neighbors driveway instead of my own.
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