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792 of 820 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 30, 2008
[UPDATE 6/25/2011] I found a GPS I actually like! It's the Garmin nuvi 1690 4.3-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic Alerts. My review is now there -- maybe I can get in the top reviews again... If you can't find it, comment here.


I have owned a Garmin c320 for a few years now and was looking for some new features, like coordinates and altitude. I first bought the TomTom 330 XL, which was a disaster. After lots of research, I bought this and kept it. Here is my long list of pros and cons:


1. Best routes. (See my cons) This may be one of the main reasons Garmin dominates in the US -- good routing. Of course, I wish it had more a brain and could think about traffic lights and general traffic in certain areas at certain times (not actual traffic reporting), but I guess needing brains is good.

2. Where Am I? (See my cons) This will list your nearest street address. In this screen it also shows altitude and your coordinates.

3. Easier broad map access. On my c320, you had to dig in the menus to find a broad map view, so you could touch areas on the map and go to it. On the 205w, you can just touch the map while driving and it will take you to the broad map. You can then touch an area that you want to make a Via Point and change your route that way.

4. Speed Limit sign. You can set it up to show the current speed limit on the screen. It has been super accurate to the instant of a speed limit change in real driving. If the sign is missing on the screen, you also then know that it doesn't really know how to calculate arrival time from the road. You may want to use that information to take or avoid that road on your next trip.

5. Very compact. My c320 was much bigger, so this is super small.


1. Touchscreen. This may change as I use it, but the touchscreen is no where near as sensitive as my c320. It requires some hard touching. It also shows fingerprints much worse than my old GPS unit.

2. Ball mount. This gives a better range of motion than the mount on my c320, but it feels like I need to push really hard on my GPS unit to get it to snap in. This may change in age, too.

3. Keyboard speed. When I'm typing in a city, street, etc., the keyboard is a full QWERY keyboard, which is an improvement over my c320 (I think you can choose ABC keyboard), but there are two things I don't like: 1) there is a delay from when you type to when it shows, so if you type fast, you can't see what you're typing, if you make a mistake, you don't see if very fast; 2)the spacebar is tiny and way off to the right, while dumb menus are in the bottom middle -- very annoying!!

4. Charging cord. On my c320, the charging cord would plug into the mount and there wasn't a charge jack in the GPS unit itself. This was nice because you could leave the power cord in the mount all the time and take the GPS with you - you never had to plug in, just clip the GPS in and out. Now, the power cord won't stay put and it falls out the door, etc. because it must be plugged into the back of the GPS. I suppose with the mount the way it is, it's not possible to have a jack in the mount and GPS, but I think they should work on that.

5. Current road. The TomTom XL 330 did show what road you are currently on and what the next road to turn onto was. Garmin only shows the next road name.

6. Routing pet peeve. Sometimes I won't want to take its routing because I know of a better way. Let's say I turn off of the normal route -- it will recalculate and have a shorter time than before I turned. What's up with that? Why didn't it take me that way to begin with?

6. Routing choices. I don't like the fact that I can choose either Fastest Time or Shortest Route. I would imagine that some of the time, the best route would be in between those to extremes.

7. Missing POIs. There are just so many cases where I'll be looking for something and it's not in the Garmin -- even for stores and restaurants open for years. I know you'll have this will all GPS units, but for the #1 seller in the US, can't they figure out a way to get the users involved? How about incentives for users to fix problems online and give them discounts on map updates? If you have the best maps and POIs by far, why would anyone buy any other company?

8. Tinny speaker. I'm not impressed with the speaker, it is much worse sounding than the deep c320, but you can hear it. It's just not pleasant.

9. Voice choices. It would be nice to choose your voice, but I don't see that option, unless you choose another language.

10. Nearest intersection. This is within the "Where Am I" place in the menu. It could be very useful in an emergency to have the nearest intersection in addition to the nearest address. However, I've found that they should have labeled it, "random intersection within a few miles." It will generally show me a major intersection, and sometimes ignore dozens of closer small intersections that would be much more beneficial to the police, fire, ambulance, etc.

11. Volume. I hate how they have the volume setup. On the c320 there was a wheel on the side of the unit -- that's best. On the TomTom, there was a place on the main driving screen that you touched and then moved the volume slider. On this 205W, you must hit Menu, Volume, move it, then back, then View Map. This is just awful. I want a Mute button on the driving screen and a separate volume button there, too. This is widescreen after all. I hope this doesn't cause accidents, because I think it will. When I answer my phone, I want fast access to mute!

12. Need customization! Let me choose 3 shortcut buttons for the driving map view. That way I can put Where Am I, Volume, and POI on the main screen. Please!! I also want to change my route color to red instead of light purple.

13. POI choices. This is something I've never found a GPS that does this how I want it. If I'm looking for gas or food, it is usually on a long trip. If I want to go to fast food, let's say (that wouldn't happen!), I would choose Restaurant, Fast Food. It will show me all the restaurants by how far they are from me now. That's not what I want, so I choose Near...My Current Route. That's closer to what I want, but it still shows how far it is from where I am now. I want it to show me that, but also how far I'd have to deviate from my route.

[UPDATE 6/5/09] 14. Battery life. The battery life is just awful in my unit. It might last a few hours, and if it is sitting idle for a couple weeks, it's almost dead. My c320's battery was far superior. It has been this way since it was new. I suppose mine could be defective..

Overall, this is an excellent unit and I would buy it again because I believe the Pros outweigh the Cons and no competitor has yet beat it.

[UPDATE 3/18/10] I'm still using this and it's working well, except for the battery life. I did find that you can add the EcoRoute features if you upgrade your firmware from Garmin's website. Sorry, I can't post instructions, but the feature is very cool. You add your car's miles per gallon and the current gas price and it tells you how much it will cost to get to your destination, along with other features.
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349 of 358 people found the following review helpful
I have had this unit for about 8 months. It has given me no problems what so ever. The bad thing about it for me is how basic it is. If you want bluetooth compatibility, traffic updates, movie times, etc on your GPS, then this is not the device for you. But if all you want is to get around and find places, then this unit will work well.

The price seems a little high right now for what it does ($180). For that price I would expect bluetooth compatibility. This unit does not say the road names, it just says turn left or turn right in 200 feet(not a big deal). When you look places up, it has their phone number and address (usually) which is nice because if its late at night, you can call first to see if they are still open.

This GPS has an SD card reader on the side, which can be used to view pictures in slideshow mode when you don't need the unit for navigation.

The screen is very bright during the day, so you can easily see the screen. And a nice feature is that when it gets dark, the screen automatically changes colors to 'night' mode, which helps when driving at night (the screen dims and the bright white background colors change to dark blues and blacks).

The trip features are nice. It keeps track of your average speed, how long you spent moving, how long you spent stopped, total travel time, how many miles you've gone, etc.

It takes about a minute to a minute and a half to find your location from a cold start, but if you leave it powered all the time (with a car in which the cig lighter stays on when you turn the car off) it never loses the location (not sure if that is bad for it).

The battery life is very good (about 4-5 hours).

There are many add-ons that a technologically advanced person can add to it. Such as custom points of interest (you can download them or even make your own, and you can set alerts so that it warns you when you are close to a certain place or when you are speeding in a school zone). You can add different vehicle icons to use as the car on the screen.

Overall, it is a decent, but very basic navigation device. Not many bells or whistles, but it gets you from point A to point B well.
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157 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2008
I agree with others that mp3, bluetooth, fm, announcing street "names," etc., is overboard and is NOT what makes a good GPS. Certainly Garmin has to make those for persons who want them; but for really just GOOD AND FAST navigation, the new series (205W etc) is all that's necessary and is awesome at that. What is a good GPS ... the Garmin handheld 60CSx ... which I have! So I compared the two which isn't really realistic since they both have different purposes, but both do navigation extremely well. Only the 60CSx will maintain its connection in extremely difficult areas (sky scraper buildings, overpasses, canyons, forest canopy, etc); but the 205W is not a slouch here either.

Satelite information ... Speed: the 205W is every bit as fast as the 60CSx, if not just a tad faster, and that, in itself is amazing. It gathers satellites easily and once obtained, reconnects almost instantaneously after being turned back on. Get off Interstate 35E in Dallas and try to get back on ... it's a nightmare. But for the Nuvie 205W it was easy and very clearly described and stated ... a great GPS.

I was skeptical at first about the new series until I read what Garmin accomplished here and other comments from reviewers: fast chip, storage for 1000 favorites, trip minder, clear directions and markings with distances given, road mph and your current mph (on screen) and time arrival at the objective (waypoint to go to), beautiful wide screen, easy mount dismount, etc. I could go on and on but ... if it is toys you want (mp3, bluetooth telephone, fm, etc.), don't buy this one. BUT if you want the absolute BEST for the BUCK navigation ... this series has it. The reaction speed of the unit is really impressive.

My wife loves this unit and how easy it is to do what she wants (that, my friend, is a good sales talk ...).

Garmin's back to great navigation is ... great and at a great price. Your friends will be impressed.

Only complaint ... no online operators manual ... yet? But since I already had the 60CSx, it was easy to figure out and Garmin menus are easy and direct you to what you need to know. I have owned and used the 205W Nuvi since July 14, 2008. Very satisfied!
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2008
I am very impressed with this product and it sure is nice knowing I will never be lost again as I have in the past (just ask my wife).

If you could afford the extra expense, I would recommend choosing the larger 4.3 display (205W). The 205W's only drawback is the street name is not announced which is something I thought I might regret but it is easily seen at the top of the display.

A GPS power supply for the car is included. I mention this because it is not clearly stated in the product details.

This 205W model would be what the majority of customers would need in a GPS without all the useless features that the more expensive models offer.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2008
The Garmin nuvi 205W is simply a great GPS and the best value of any widescreen GPS. It has a no extra bells and whistles (no MP3 player -LOL, doesn't speak road names - annoying, no maps of Alaska or Canada - not needed, no FM transmitter to listen to MP3 - useless gimmick, etc.). The 205W is a useful widescreen GPS - plain and simple. It has over 6 million POIs (restaurants, lodging, shopping) and can be customized to add your own POIs. It has a trip computer which I used last week on a road trip to Hershey Park which was pretty neat (tracks time traveled, speed, distance, etc.). This newly released Garmin GPS has the new user interface which shows the road speed limit, your speed, next turn arrow and distance to next turn all on the main screen. The mapping information is the best available on the market and will provide you with clear directions on where you want to go. The Garmin 205 (regular screen) and the 205W (widescreen) are both highly recommended - just a matter of preference in screen size.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
The Good: Good routes, clear voice, plenty of volume, and accurate maps.

The Bad: No external volume control, POI database fairly small, no text to speech, and map colors seem a bit kindergartenish.

Overall: The Garmin Nuvi 205w is a solid entry level unit for basic navigation needs. If you're looking for extras, this isn't the place to find them. Below you will find my detailed, usage based review.

SETUP: Your overall comfort level with technology and electronics really drives how important this aspect a device is because you should only perform it infrequently if more than once. Fortunately for the Nuvi 205w, there isn't really anything to do. Other than product registration and charging, the unit is ready to use out of the box. While some may change a few of the settings, most will have no problem going with the defaults.

DISPLAY: This is an area where the published information doesn't tell the correct story. The difference between the W and non-W units is more than just 3.5" (Nuvi 205) vs. 4.3" (Nuvi 205w). The Nuvi 205 is correctly labeled as being QVGA (320x240) resolution. However the Nuvi 205w is incorrectly labeled as WQVGA which would be (480x240). If this were the case, the only difference you would notice is that you have a larger area displayed at the same resolution. In reality, the Nuvi 205w has a resolution of (480x272) which is actually Sixteenth HD1080. So why do you care? Those extra 32 pixels give you a crisper display on the w units.

SOUND: When choosing which unit to buy, I went to a local retailer to compare units. I ran the same simulations on a Nuvi 205 and a 255w. I already described the difference in display above. When I compared the sound, I was disappointed that the text to speech on the 255w lacked the clarity of the basic instructions on the 205. I decided to opt for clearer, but simpler guidance. I've used both types in other GPS units, and I find that the clarity in verbal prompts is more helpful that spoken street names. On the 205w, the next turn is listed at the top of the unit, and you can watch for it along your route. This is also an area of cost consideration as the difference in base price between the 205w and 255w is $70. I just didn't think it was worth it. The one feature I would like to have seen is an external volume control on the unit. If you decide to adjust the volume, you have to press the menu button and choose the volume icon on the main screen. However once you have a good volume, you probably won't be making many adjustments since this unit has neither an MP3 player nor Bluetooth capabilities.

NAVIGATION: The sound and display don't mean a lot if the unit doesn't get the directions correct. I tested my 205w in areas that I drive frequently to see how it would do in generating routes. Of the five different trips I tested, each was at least 10 miles. The routes the 205w generated were essentially the ones that I would choose, and I had direction prompts before I could place the unit in the windshield mount. I intentionally missed a few turns or turned early to force a route recalculation. I found that the process was quick, and it was able to get me back on route quickly. The only area where the unit did not excel was differentiating between a highway and the access road. I have had more sensitive units that would enter route recalculation before I made it to the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp. The 205w did not notice that I was off route until I turned on the street at the end of the ramp. This is a fairly contrived test so you can decide if you think it is important for your usage.

USABILITY: This is an area where the Nuvi 205w gets high marks. The user interface is very easy to work with. One other reason to splurge for the w model is to have the QWERTY keyboard layout. For some reason, the non-w units only have alphabetical order layouts which I find very unintuitive. Menu navigation and data entry are a snap. The only thing I would change is the color coding on the maps. It seems that they tried to use all the colors from a box of crayons with all of the street color coding. This gives the maps the appearance of something out of a kindergarten coloring book. I have to admit that this is pretty minor, but I would have liked something a little more grown up such as the Navigon color schemes.

EXTRAS: There's not a lot to comment on here. The 205w has a photo viewer, and you can navigate to a picture that is tagged with coordinates. Frankly, I would have rather seen this feature left off and saved a few more dollars on the base cost. The maps only take up about half of the internal memory so the need for an SD card reader would not exist without the photo features.

It is pure novelty, but I did like the ability to add additional vehicles and voices from the Garmin web site. I added a few vehicles and the Halloween voice. I found the voice amusing, but it annoyed my wife. If you connect the 205w to your PC, the web site can install them directly to the unit.

The 205w does not ship with a USB cable, but most people already have more of these than they know what to do with. If you have a digital camera or non-iPod MP3 player, you probably already have what you need. The car charging cable that ships with the unit is very stiff, and I found that I had to maneuver it more than I would have liked in order to run it from the unit to the power jack without creating an obstruction to my instrument and windshield view.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2008
I bought the Garmin nuvi 205w after experience and return of two Magellan products for about two weeks, the two Magellans, Maestro 3225 and Roadmate 1412 were buggy and felt cheap compare to Garmin.
The Garmin nuvi 205w is just great, responsive, clear maps, extremely quick satellite reception from a cold start, you don't even have to be outside, just standing next to a window will do the trick. Built quality is superb, it feels like a little brick, the PC software to load IPO's is great; you can also look for an address on Google maps and click "send" to load the location to the Garmin.
Accuracy in busy NYC streets is amazing, it will recalculate after half a block when you miss a turn, also, on the Henry Hudson Pkwy it will detect if I'm on the main road or the service road, and they are really close to each other.
So far I'm very satisfy, easy to use, responsive and does not have anything that I don't need !
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2009
I have an older Garmin V that I have used for about 7 years. The old Garmin is great for driving around provided you plan ahead and update the maps to show where you're traveling. If you forget, you miss critical detail and you'd better have good local maps. I still have that unit and use it mostly in the woods due to its limited memory.

So on a recent trip to Sacramento, I decided to upgrade to a newer unit that had more memory. The 205W worked so well out of the box I was a little disappointed. The tech on these is so simple now it's almost 'boring' to use. It navigated rapidly and accurately and provided clear directions within minutes. Most amazing to me was how well it picked up satellites compared to the Garmin V. Extremely fast and even worked resting in the space between the seats of our rental car. Pretty cool.

I'm not sure you can go wrong with the 205W. I've been a GPS geek for about 10 years and we use them at work.

The 205W is intuitive enough for most folks to use right out of the box and the routing is good. By 'good', I mean it's fast and accurate. If you accidentally drive by something it quickly recalculates a route for you.

The screen is nice and bright too, even in daylight. It is wise to bring along the supplied 12 volt cigarette lighter plug as it seems to last for very short times on battery alone and there is no way to replace the battery or bring along a spare. Fortunately, you can charge it off a mini-usb port from your computer too so it's not a big issue but if you're the forgetful sort, perhaps a replaceable battery model is better for you.

This is not a unit you'd really use in the back-country. It's designed for highway use and works great for that. There are other more costly units that more effectively marry the needs of sportsman and the occasional traveler.

It does nicely link up with Google Earth via your computer (you'll need to latest free version of Google Earth). It does not appear to provide a real-time GPS position signal to your computer (my 7 year old Garmin V does though) so if you're looking for that capability this doesn't appear to be a solution for that specific problem. However, if you are traveling and wish to save the addresses / places that you visited it easily imports that information and it's pretty cool to see those points overlaid on Google Earth.

You can add an SD card and put photos and stuff on it like you might on a USB memory stick but I don't think many people use that sort of capability.

You can easily download different icons to show your position. I downloaded the tank. The tank rules. It's a gimmick but it shows the folks at Garmin have a sense of humor.

You can view your route in the traditional overhead routing or 3D; both work really well.

The provided suction cup mount works very well. It uses a ball mount that allows for infinite positioning. If you want a really rugged mount I'd strongly recommend the Ram-Mount systems available online. I bought one for my ATV and it's amazingly stout and simple. I digress.

If your primary need for a GPS is a very simple, plain and effective unit for over the road travel, this will exceed your needs and your expectations in an easy to use package.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2008
I've never used a GPS unit before, but with a two-week driving trip to the UK coming up, I thought it would be a useful tool. I was wrong; it was an INDISPENSIBLE tool. Seriously, if I could give this thing 10 stars I would.

It saved my life on numerous occasions and lowered the stress level of driving in an unfamiliar country, on the left side of the road, with roundabouts instead of intersections, driving late at night on rural roads to a minimum. We also purchased the UK map add-on, popped it in and we were ready to go. We changed it over to the British voice for fun and it was a god-send.

Especially helpful was the ability to download locations and addresses directly from Google Maps into the Favorites folder. We did this each night as we planned the next day's journey. It allowed us to be more flexible.

We ran into an issue with our rental car where the aux output failed and even though the Garmin was plugged in, it was not getting any charge. This, of course, was not the Garmin's fault but it left us kinda stuck until we could get the car fixed. To get more out of the battery, we simply turned the Garmin off when it would tell us there was a long stretch of driving (five or more miles) with no road changes and then turned it back on just before the change (using the trip meter). We also turned down the brightness. Each time it reacquired the signal quickly and we were able to get over 8 hours driving out of the four hour battery charge. But once it was plugged in and getting a charge as it should, there were no issues. But it was good to know that in an emergency, with a little tweaking, you can get several more hours of use.

One time we ran into some emergency construction work in Cardiff and we were unable to turn where it was directing us. However, it recalculated quickly and we arrived at our destination only a few minutes later.

I especially liked how easily it found gas stations as for the most part we were in rural areas and countryside. We never lost a signal, although on occasion in a dense and close city like Edinburgh it took some time to acquire the signal when first switched on, probably because of the very tall buildings. But once acquired, it never went away.

The voice was easy to hear, we had no problems even in loud driving conditions (radio on, noisy road, rain sounds). The screen was plenty bright, even in daytime. The touch screen was very easy to use and very easy to change. Having the volume right on the first screen was great because we didn't have to go hunting for it when we did want to turn it down.

It was easy to dismount, pop in my bag and take with us. Apparently, these little gems are stolen a lot in the UK, when we entered Stratford, there was actually a sign that said Welcome to Stratford, be sure to take your SatNav out of your car if you don't want to lose it!

Upon my return to the states, it's functioned perfectly with the US Maps. I don't write that many Amazon reviews, but this product was so good and such a life saver that I really wanted to tell others. This particular model suited my needs perfectly and while I know there are fancier editions available, for my purposes, I didn't need Bluetooth, to pick up email, an MP3 player or anything else like that.

All I just needed something to get me from A to B in one piece with a minimum of stress. This did the trick and then some. Considering that without the Garmin we would STILL be wasting our vacation time arguing over maps and missed turns and trying to figure out the unfamiliar UK road system (ie, sucking ALL of the fun out of a vacation!) this little guy was worth twice the price I paid for it.

I love it and I'm going to buy a couple as Christmas presents.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2009
I upgraded from my old 200W to the 205W when it was stolen. The 205W locks on to satellites much faster, otherwise, it is more or less the same, which is good, except for one MAJOR unacceptable change. Unlike the old 200W, it will not display the approaching street name on the top information bar. It does it on freeways, but for some inexplicable reason, won't do it on streets. Countless times I have driven past the street I wanted to turn on, forcing a u-turn. What good is a GPS if it does not tell you this? On dark canyon roads, I have missed the street by miles because I did not know that I passed the street. This makes this GPS worthless, I loved the 200W, but I hate the 205W. What was Garmin thinking by deleting this valuable feature? I will never buy Garmin again and neither should you.
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