Customer Reviews: Garmin nüvi 50LM 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps (US) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on December 18, 2011
I upgraded from a Nuvi 205w, which Ive had for 3 years. The 205w has sure gotten a work out, I work for a large cable company, so I drive all day and the 205w has never failed me as it navigates 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for the past 3 years. The battery is at the end of its life as it holds a charge for a bit over an hour and the maps are outdated. As prices of GPS units are constantly dropping and being offered with lifetime map updates, I couldn't justify updating the maps on the 3 year old unit when for a few dollars more I picked up a new one when it went on sale.
I didn't need all of the bells and whistles like bluetooth, voice activation/voice commands, mp3 player etc. When shopping for a new unit I wasn't convinced that I needed the 5" screen as my old 4.3" unit was mounted next to the rear view mirror and about 22" from my face, and I could read the screen just fine. B*st B*y just happened to have the 50LM version on sale much cheaper than the smaller 40LM, so it was a no brainer. (I picked it up for $117)
After purchasing the unit I had it updated and ready for use in 34 minutes after walking in the house. The update included installing the Web updater, the lifetime map updater, registering the unit, updating the maps and firmware and rebooting the unit twice. Very quick process and everything went absolutely flawless.
After the effortless update process, I took it out to actually navigate, I checked the points of interest, looked up a pizza restaurant across town and it guided me there with zero glitches, hiccups, re-routes or misguided routing. While on the interstate, upon approaching an exit it switches to lane assist and junction view and the exit signs it shows are to-the-letter exact as the actual sign reads. Very impressive.
After getting to my destination I wanted to test the boot time, so I shut the unit completely off and then turned it back on, I did this several times to get an average boot time and was ready to navigate at the "Where To/Show Map" screen in 13 seconds every time I turned it on.
Using the 50LM side-by-side with my 205w they operate very similarly (if you own one you will be right at home with the new one), the 50LM is faster, has smoother map scrolling, has better touch response on the screen and even though the resolution is the same, the 5" screen of the 50LM looks noticeable sharper, and the difference in size is very noticeable. The volume is VERY loud at 100%; you could probably use this in a noisy convertible without problems. One other thing I noticed is the 50LM has very accurate speed zones, if I'm in a 35mph zone and then it switches to 50, the unit updates the on-screen speed zone within a second of physically passing the street sign.
While my 205w workhorse still works perfect after 3 years of constant use, the 2012 units are a very worthy upgrade, especially with lifetime map updates.

***UPDATE 12/23/2011***
After a full week of navigating since my initial purchase, I am happy to report that there have been zero hiccup's, freezes, resets, crashes or faults that I can think of. My unit is in use from 7:30am to 4:00pm everyday and has worked flawlessly, only once has it not found an address, and to its defense the address was a service road within the confines of a gated apartment complex. I cant comment further on the volume level or speech clarity, I have mine muted while driving and just frequently glance at the arrow on the screen for guidance. The screen is really bright and I find that for me, a comfortable adjustment is at 40% brightness in either day or night driving.
Again comparing this with my older 205w, I REALLY like the speed and sensitivity of this touchscreen much better, its almost like texting on an iphone, just light taps whereas the 205w, even after numerous screen calibrations, would take 2-3 taps of certain keys to get them to register. Map scrolling is much smoother and faster also, just swipe your finger across the screen while in 2D mode and the map rolls smoothly, almost too fast at times, I occasionally have to remind myself to scroll slower so as not to overshoot my targeted area.
Just a reminder, this is Garmins base model, no frivolous extra features to make it cumbersome or complicated - it navigates, and it does that task VERY well.

***UPDATE 08/06/2012*** Today my Nuvi50LM had to be replaced. It guided me to my job destination like always, but after my job, I turned the unit on to enter my next jobs address and all I got was a black screen with a faint GARMIN logo, I tried rebooting it several times and never got past the first Logo screen. Luckily I was a few miles from the Best Buy store where I bought it, they happily exchanged it for a new one, no questions asked. The new one already had the newest maps loaded, I just needed to register it online which took about 10 seconds as the website communicator auto-detects the model and serial number. Im hoping the new one works as well as the last one.
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on July 9, 2012
I just bought this from my local Best Buy. I thought the price was great for a Garmin and everything I've heard/read about Garmins was fantastic, so I figured this was a great buy!

Screen: The screen is great! Very bright and easy to see without taking your eyes off the road. The windshield attachment works perfectly (don't let the salesguy sucker you into buying a dashboard attachment; you don't need it). Touch screen works like a charm. Very sensitive. As good as my iPhone's touch screen!

Voice: Voice is very clear and easy to understand. What I love about this GPS is that the voice tells you what street you'll be turning onto. I love that because then you know what to look out for and you don't have to keep looking at the screen wondering if you missed your turn or not (that can be very dangerous/distracting while driving!). Plus, let's face it, pretty much every GPS is off by a few feet when telling you where you're turn is in relation to where you are...

Destination: When typing in your destination, the GPS searches for the address as you're typing. At first this annoyed me, but then I found it to be quite helpful. It allows you to plug in your destination faster and get on the go. Very cool feature.

Real View: When on the highway, the GPS shows you a picture of what your exit looks like so you know what to look out for. Kind of like google maps does online. I thought this was pretty cool when it popped up.

Red Lights: While on the road, the device will warn you if there are traffic lights that are camera sensitive. This way you know to stop when the light turns yellow instead of risking going through it and getting a ticket. LOVE IT!

Speed: Device shows the speed limit wherever you are and warns you if you are going over the speed limit. I'm sure there is a way to turn the alarm on so you can hear when you're going over, but I prefer the visual warning (mostly because it's less annoying and I live in Jersey where the speed has no limit ;P).


These aren't so much cons for me as they were just quirks that can be easily fixed.

No satellites: The first two times I used this device, I got really frustrated because it would NOT find satellites. I had no idea what was going on and I was really getting angry and ready to return it altogether. However, I realized soon this was due to my own stupidity. READ THE MANUAL!!!!!!! For the first use, you must remain still with the GPS having a clear view of the sky. The manual says wait 3-5 minutes but it actually only takes about a minute to find signal. After that, it takes about ten seconds for every use afterwards. Calculating your route is super quick! Takes about two seconds if that.

Directionally challenged: I held off on getting a GPS for a while because I know my way around pretty well. However I recently got a job where the device seemed necessary. Anyway, I was traveling somewhere and the route that it decided to take me on (albeit still a decent route) was a little bit longer and more convoluted than one I knew. I decided to follow it thinking the GPS must know something I didn't. However, I was correct in thinking to go the route I knew. It ended up taking me on the turnpike and leading me through some pretty heavy traffic. However, this can easily be avoided if you recognize the route it's taking you on and choose to go your way. The GPS will reconfigure to your route in seconds, and you'll be on your merry way. (: If you are not directionally savvy, I recommend you get a different device.

Addresses: Typing in addresses can be kind of annoying because unlike the TomTom interface where it guides you through choosing city, state, street, and street number step by step, Garmin has city and state preset. If you forget to change it ahead of time, don't expect to find your destination. Kind of annoying at first but an easy adjustment to get used to.

All in all, this is a great GPS. Does its job famously. I would definitely recommend this. (:
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on October 3, 2011
I've been using a NUVI 50LM for about a month now. It replaced a Garmin StreetPilot 7200. The 7200 was a top of the line unit at it's introduction. First the LM stands for Life Time Maps. This is a great feature. One of my frustrations with other GPS units has been the cost of updating the maps. With the LM I'll be able to do that any time there is an upgrade, prepaid!
I'm used to the larger screen of the 7200 and was worried that I'd not like the 5" screen of the 50. After a couple of days it works out fine.
The new unit is much lighter than the older one which even in the car mount turns out to be important as the new unit does not vibrate nearly as much on our dirt roads. Thus it's easier to use when the road conditions are not smooth.
The Lane and Junction assists Garmin has added are a great help once you locate them. Basically in the upper left corner there is a lane layout with the lanes you should be in highlighted. When approaching an exit a pseudo image of the exit is presented on the right side. This is nice for sorting out what you should be doing on a fast moving and changing Interstate system. I get a laugh out of the shadow mountains in the background while driving in Kansas.
Garmin has dropped the "Recalculating" statement that was made after a missed turn. This is both good and bad. There have been some times when I didn't know if the advice coming out of the unit was new or old. Overall it is less irritating.
This unit acquires a fix noticeably faster than other units I've used, including the 7200. That's especially nice when I forget to turn in on until after I'm rolling in a busy part of town.
Another new feature to me is the speed limit sign in the lower right corner. I've often wondered what the speed limit was on a stretch of road and missed the sign. This gives the limit. Now having said that it also dose NOT know about construction zones. Additionally, we just had a speed limit increase to 75 from 70 on many of our Interstates. Even though my last update was after the change the unit still shows the old speed. Overall this is a great feature. Oh, and it shows your speed in black if you are at or below the limit and in red if you go over.

For a basic, no frills GPS I think this is a great value, and the LM is worth the extra $$$$.
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on May 3, 2012
I'll keep this short. My first gps was a TomTom, it was ok, but broke after about 2yrs. So I decided to "upgrade" to a bigger screen and lifetime maps after getting tired of using my Android phone. I'll just list what I like and dislike.

-nice screen
-clear voice
-freeway lane indicator (actually works well!)
-quickly locks onto satellites
-easy to use for the most part
-smooth map scrolling
-mount works pretty good
-good price for what you get

-no voice to tell you it's "re-routing" (annoying!)
-sometimes the stop navigating icon disappears and the only way I can cancel a route is to re-boot
-sometimes when exiting a parking garage it can't find satellites, have to re-boot
-sometimes it thinks it's daytime, have to re-boot
-sometimes it takes too long to find the simplest category search for destination (ie Disneyland!)
-when typing there is a delay to what you see on the screen
-simple things like changing volume or brightness should be much easier
-safety camera warning sucks, just a beep and by time you look at screen icon disappears, should stay on screen
-when going over speed limit it turns to red even if by 1mph, should give you a few mph buffer
-software for computer is quirky, not very user friendly, took me more time than it should just to recognize the unit

After a few updates I would feel comfortable raising this 1-star now. At least all the things that required me to re-boot have been addressed. The following has been fixed:
FIXED (mostly) -sometimes the stop navigating icon disappears and the only way I can cancel a route is to re-boot
FIXED -sometimes when exiting a parking garage it can't find satellites, have to re-boot
FIXED -sometimes it thinks it's daytime, have to re-boot

The searching for destinations is still an issue. I don't bother anymore. Just get out my phone, google search it, then enter that address into the nav.
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on May 31, 2012
My previous GPS (Magellan) also came with "lifetime" map update but after one update which went fine, it refused to do further update. I have dealt with Magellan customer service and after getting no satisfaction to the issue I decided to come back to Garmin.

Nuvi 50 was on sale so it was worthwhile for me to get slightly bigger 5 inch model rather than 4.3 inch model. It is basic in that it has no bluetooth and other "extra" feature that I really have no use for. Aside from "lifetime" map update, it also had one feature that I wanted which is to indicate speed limit of highway and streets. Depending on where you're travelling certain jurisdictions of cities and freeways are nothing but speed trap and often you will not see the posted speed limit sign until you're too late.

For those new into purchasing GPS, I bid you welcome. Good GPS will do a lot to alleviate figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B smoothly and efficiently (usually). However, it is not going to be 100% perfect in execution so I suggest you carry map of the area you are going to travel (just in case GPS fail).

When you open the box, you will find Nuvi 50 with no plastic wrappers. Lift the unit out of box and lift the cardboard box beneath it and you will find, car charger, USB cable, window mount, paper for "Need a dashboard disc?", "Activate your Lifetme Maps", "Important Safety and Product Information", "Free Trial Update Your Safety Camera" and no owner's manual but there is quick start guide that is only apparent if you open the paper showing picturegram of mounting GPS to windshield of car. In it you will find quick-start picturegram so basic I can't believe what length Garmin went to cut cost.

1) Type in Garmin web address on your computer's browser. (Earlier I typed in web address but Amazon did not like it. Don't know why.)

2) Connect GPS using included USB/mini USB cable to your computer

3) Register your Garmin once you open an account.

4) Download updater so that you can get the latest map.

Other reviewers have already noted, be forwarned that update of map will take time. During download of new map, at one point, updater will instruct you to detach GPS from computer and turn the unit on. This is to allow the GPS to load what was already downloaded into the unit.

Once GPS finished loading the update you will be instructed to attach the unit via USB to computer again and continue updating process. Just follow the instruction given and all will be fine.

The actual registering and downloading updater went smoothly for me. The updater will notify if there is any available map update.
Those interested can download owner's manual from Garmin site but this GPS (to me at least) was so easy to operate that I find no need to read it. Still, for those buying their first GPS it might be good idea to peruse the manual.

AC charger is not included and really there is no need to purchase one. Use the supplied USB cable and charge your GPS from your computer.
In actual operation, the GPS worked fine for the most part but compared to my previous Magellan Roadmate 1424 LM, I found that Garmin was slower in doing reroute/recalculating. Whereas Magellan was quick to give revised direction if I deviate from route, I noticed that Garmin was sometimes noticeably slower in giving revised direction; a minor quibble but still noticeable if you have owned another brand GPS.

I will be adding additional update (positive or negative) if there is need to as I have had this unit for few days only and haven't had chance to really give it a go. But for the brief time I have had it is a keeper.

***UPDATE 06/12/12***

It may or may not be an issue but on my nuvi 50, I have determined that reroute feature will not kick in immediately if I deviate from route given by Garmin during the first initial guidance.

Example: I turn on the GPS. I input address or favorite. GPS give first guidance: "Proceed on highlighted route on (street you are driving)."

The way my home street is laid out it is better to take opposite route initially to get to main street where I am heading due to traffic. My old Magellan GPS also gave same guidance initially but it learned to adjust guidance after I deviated a few times. Nuvi 50 seem to be unable to do that (for now).

Magellan also excelled in guessing correct address with few keystroke. I had to type street almost all the way on some addresses on nuvi 50 before it filled the rest of the field.

If you pick different voice some of them will not give street names. However, in the voice setting it will clearly tell you which one of them will give street names or not in parenthesis. I guess this is Garmin's way to save money.

On my old Magellan, it was slow in catching GPS signal during initial power up. By comparison, Nuvi 50 was very fast in catching satellite signal.

Taking into account of what I have so far I find Garming Nuvi 50 to be:


- East of operation

- Fast signal capture

- Split screen lane assist (some reviewers did not like it but I like it.)

- Where available will post speed limit

- Accurate guidance (for the most part)


- Reroute slow in some situation (see above)

- Not all voices will give street names

- Although I have latest map update, map still not showing new layout of freeway exit near my place
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on August 31, 2012
I. The Background
I have a Nuvi 350 which I paid near four hundred dollars few years back. The GPS has served me well but the map is now out of date. It costs fifty dollars for a one-time update or ninety for lifetime updates. Compare that to the Nuvi 50 with lifetime map updates for only few dollars more, it's a simple choice.

II. The Objective
I use the GPS for practical purposes: map and direction. I do not care for fancy pictures, mp3, or Bluetooth. I imagine I would like the traffic update feature but after reading reviews about the ads that comes with it, I decided it was not worth it. The less I have to keep my eyes on the GPS the better. For the map, I use only the 2-D map display with track-up. It is more realistic in the sense of distance.

III. The Good
1. Fast cold start.
Yes, it's much faster than my old Nuvi 350. The time for it to pick up the satellite is insignificant. I used to have to wait when using the old one, but with the Nuvi 50, I can just turn on the engine and drive. It does, however, have problem catching the satellite signal when exiting an underground parking lot downtown Chicago.

2. More accurate map.
That's what you get when you have the lifetime map updates.

3. Display of speed limit at the bottom right corner.
It also displays the car's speed next to it. The color of your car's speed will turn red when you exceed the speed limit. In my case, I usually drive about 5 mph over the speed limit so it is red most of the time. However, I like this feature. I find myself looking at it often especially when a police car passes by to confirm that I'm not speeding.

4. The lane assist feature.
It displays arrows showing the next turn to be left or right so you can prepare by changing lanes way ahead of time. I love it. However the Nuvi 50 also comes with Junction View feature, which displays inaccurate pictorial view of the highway exit. I found this unnecessary, distracting; hence unsafe. More about Junction View later.

IV. The Bad
1. The contrast.
Imaging looking at dull white roads on the light grey background under the sunshine. The map is barely visible except for the highway and the road that you are traveling on, which is painted magenta. This is unsafe, and is one of the worse features of the Nuvi 50. It is very aggravating. I wish Garmin would use the same color as my outdated Nuvi 350, which is grey on white. You want high contrast on your digital read out when driving a car.

2. The pronunciation.
This is much worse than my outdated Nuvi 350. It pronounces Briley Parkway with a short i such as Brilly Parkway, similar to brilliant. It pronounces Lakeview Drive as Lekey'view Drive. And if you want to go to Galleria Mall? It will tell you to go to Gela'ria Drive as in Malaria with a G.

3. The junction view.
Junction View is its official name; however, I would call it Junk View despite the fact that Garmin was proud of its innovation for this feature. What it does is to display the pictorial view of an exit to show you whether the exit is on the left or on the right, starting about 1 mile from the exit that you are going to take. This is redundant because the Lane Assist Feature is doing a great job telling you the same thing. Worse, the view takes half of the display, and shrinks the normal map down into the other half. It looks nice and fancy if you are not driving, but it is distracting due to sudden change in the normal view, i.e. from a full screen size map to a half size map. In addition, the color of the junction view picture is highlighted, which makes the normal, smaller map harder to read. Furthermore, the junction view becomes misleading when there are two exits next to each other such as 40A and 40B exits. It makes you think that you need to get into the first exit while you actually need to go to the next exit. It is extremely distracting. It could cause accident, especially on a busy beltway, and when it does, I hope the driver will sue Garmin for being stupid. Worst, there is no option to turn off the Junk View. I tried to delete the junction view files from the computer through the USB connection but couldn't find them. I heard they exist on other models. Garmin should fire the manager who promoted this feature and the engineer who came up with this Junk View idea.

4. The text size for long highway names.
When encountering highway with long name, the text size at the top of the GPS reduced down to 8 point. Try printing "Exit 77A to William H Natcher Parkway, Bowling Green" with 8-point fonts size and read it from 3 feet away. I wonder if Garmin's programmers ever heard of the term "truncate" and set the minimal fonts size to 12.

5. Extra layers of submenu without a one-step return to map display.
The "home" key is missing! If it takes you 5 screens to look for your point of interest on the GPS, it will take you 5 screens to return to the home screen! Why can't they put in a home key so we can go back to the map with one tap on the screen? EDIT: Thanks to a response comment, I can now return to "home" by pressing and holding the return key for few seconds.

V. The Despicable
1. The contrast, especially when driving under sunlight with sunglasses.
The dull white road on light grey background will become all grey when you have the sunglasses on! Good luck with driving under the sun.

2. The junction view.
Junk View. Inaccurate, distracted, and unsafe.

VI. Conclusion:
I still recommend the Nuvi 50 with the hope that Garmin will provide a new program that changes the contrast and removes the Junk View feature.
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on October 28, 2012
After 1 year, I decided to update the map. Woohoo I have life time map update. I waited for half an hour to update, and finally it has been updated to version 2013 sth. I unplugged it, and it worked perfectly. Reboot it to make sure everything ok and got the warning "please download your Traffic Database" sth like that, then I opened the map and nothing showed up. Tried to update many times again even hard reset, but hopeless. So, lifetime map update? What a joke. Used once and the gps's turned to a brick. And when I tried to contact for help, I found out the warranty expired 1 month ago. It was not a bad gps, it did the job until I used the "Life Time Map Update" ONCE.
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on July 14, 2012
This was to be my first GPS and I wanted outstanding performance in a 5 inch screen, but didn't want or need anything fancy (like Bluetooth, etc) but did want lifetime maps. The Garmin nuvi 50LM was the perfect choice and I have not been disappointed. It is easy to use, fast and accurate. The screen is bright with excellent contrast. It is 'turn by turn" and specifically mentions the names of the streets. The default voice is strong and easy tonhear/understand. Overall, the Garmin nuvi 50LM is simple, basic and outstanding. I also bought the "beanbag" mount for the top of the dashboard and it is GREAT!! It makes is so easy to remove the GPS from sight when parked or after use, plus move the Garmin nuvi 50LM from vehicle to vehicle. In my opinion, the Garmin 50LM is the best value for money for basic "no frills" automotive GPS. I am very pleased with the Garmin nuvi 50LM and my choice in buying it. You can be too!!
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on December 3, 2011
This review is for an actual Garmin nuvi 50LM, not a smaller or older unit like some reviews here.

I have a much older Garmin "Street Pilot" 2720 that mounts on my BMW motorcycle. It also has a bean bag mount and I have used it in the car... but it has an old incomplete database. So I wanted a bigger (for my old eyes) screen and lifetime map updates.

This is a new 2011 model, looks good, comes with a solid suction cup mount, a 12v car recharge / power cord and a short (18") p.c. cable, it uses a standard mini usb plug so my Blackberry cords work just fine too.

The garmin web updater I already have on my computer added the unit to my account easily, it updated the firmware too. (I have 2 Garmin aviation units 195 / 196) the "garmin lifetime updater" installed onto my p.c. automatically. I did not have to enter a serial number. It found a newer map and loaded it in about 20 minutes. Seamless, kudos to Garmin.

Driving with this unit in default 3D settings is fantastic. The pictures it has loaded of actual freeway signs is amazing.. the "lane control" is great, at a glance I can see my speed, distance to the next turn / offramp and e.t.a. I did find if you "-" or pan out you lose street names / detail.

One tweak I made was at night I turned it down to 10% brightness, if you tap the power switch like you want to turn it off it has the brightness right there, adjust and tap the power switch again.

I needed to meet a friend at a Mexican place for lunch, I knew the name and about where it was. So while driving on the 405 I hit the "food" button, scrolled down to "mexican" scrolled down like 8 pages to find it and BAM I was on my way... exactly why I bought a new gps with current updates.

Garmin is the good stuff, I would buy it again or recommend it to anyone.
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on March 9, 2012
I've owned a number of Garmins and was excited about this one since it included lifetime maps. The first downside is that it took about 4 hours to download and install the update - which is required as soon as the unit is received. I didn't mind doing that, but I was surprised at the time required with a broadband connection. The second problem came after about 5 days of owning the unit; The power button fell off - I'm not sure it was ever attached properly. Fortunately, Amazon was great with the return. I'd get another Garmin - just not this model.
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