Customer Reviews: Garmin nüvi 50LM 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps (US) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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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
44 comments| 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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 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 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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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 June 5, 2012
Amazon delivered my device today and while charging I updated the maps to the 2013 versions (as per the free lifetime maps.) BIG mistake.

After charging the device, I went to enter set my "Home" address and found that it wasn't recognising my address (or even street) in the suburb of Boston that I live in - about 30 minutes out of the city. I tried a few streets nearby to no avail, however found others as close as .3 miles away.

After spending one hour and 20 minutes on the phone (including hold times) to a sympathetic customer service representative, she discovered that for some reason many of the streets in my suburb were simply showing up as "Boston". Unfortunately for me, Boston is a big place (and according to the "Cities" option on the "Where to" menu - it is 5.5 miles away from my suburb. As you can imagine, finding places by suburb on my GPS will be near impossible, since some addresses show up correctly and some don't.

Ideally I would have liked to have restored the original maps until this mapping issue has been sorted out, but was told by your representative that this cannot be done. This leaves me with a fairly useless device.

The customer service representative offered to forward my complaint, but said the issue very well may not be fixed.

I can't express how disappointed I am with Garmin.

I should also add that this device was replacing a Nuvi 265, which worked well until I didn't use it for 6 months while overseas - after which point the battery lasted for about 30 seconds if it wasn't connected to a power source. Six weeks later it died completely, and will no longer power up. It was going to cost me $89 to have the battery replaced by Garmin (as opposed to $125 or so for a new device).
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on October 28, 2011
This new Garmin is much better than my older one. I bought it because of the lifetime updates. I took it to the back woods of Tennessee and Kentucky and it performed flawlessly. I especially like the three dimensional view of upcoming lanes and the lane change arrows. It also doesn't drive you crazy by saying "recalculating" if you change course like the old one did. A great buy for the price.
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on November 11, 2011
Love this unit!! Had an old Tom Tom, which they stopped supporting about 2 years after paying way too much for it. Always been a Garmin fan, and this only bolsters my feeling about Garmin. Love it so much, I'm ordering another one for my wife. Great screens, the split screen when approaching a turn is fantastic in helping you stay in the proper lanes. Road speed limits and your speed, another plus as I never look at signs, never know what the speed limit is.
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on July 10, 2012
I did a lot of research before I bought. This is my first gps navigator. I decided against the comparable TomTom unit because reviewers stated that the TomTom screen wasn't as bright as they'd like and was particularly difficult to see in bright daylight. Reviewers also said that the TomTom audio volume was not loud enough to always hear clearly even at max. My thinking was... when I'm driving down the highway, the number one thing I need from a gps unit (besides accuracy) is to be able to hear it clearly and see the screen clearly... else what good is it to me? If I can't see and hear it clearly, I may be distracted from focusing on my driving and the more distractions the less safe is one's driving and who wants to have to pull over to see/hear the dang gps? Reviewers of the Garmin Nuvi 50 generally said the screen was large enough and bright enough and the audio was plenty loud enough even when the volume was not at highest setting. When I read reviews comparing the 5" screen to even slightly smaller screens, the 5" won out being large enough to accommodate a nice sized view of the map, as well as written content in top, bottom, or side margins.

I find the Nuvi simple, easy, and pretty intuitive to use. It is plenty loud...I never have it on the max setting. It is plenty easy to see on the dash, even in bright sunlight. I like the 3-D style map. I like that it shows the speed limit and the speed I am going.

It does a good job of getting me where I want to go, which is the whole point, of course. Now, I have read reviews where people complain that it doesn't always take the "best" route as judged by an individual familiar with the city/town. Well, people, it's a machine, not a person. It gets me from A to B, mostly on main roads, when B is in unfamiliar territory and that's good enough for me. If I then become familiar with the area and find a short cut to B, fine, but I don't blame the Garmin for not taking me on side roads and back alleys to start with. Frankly, in an unfamiliar city, I would not want the Garmin to route me through side roads, strange neighborhoods, and far off the beaten path, even if it were the shortest route. In some places that would be not even be safe.

Oh, and I wouldn't get any navigator device without the lifetime map updates. It just makes sense.

I love my Garmin. It's a pleasure to use. In fact, my husband bought a cheaper Magellan for a project where he needs the gps coordinates. It actually gets him where he wants to go, but when he checks the coordinates, they are incorrect. Go figure that. The coordinates on my Garmin, however, are spot on. Soooo today he just ordered a Garmin Nuvi like mine. :o)
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on July 30, 2012
Screen kept going bank and then reboot itself and the road kept disappearing. Tried contacting Garmin but could never get through. Web site is terrible. Did not want an exchange just a refund.
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