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Customer Review

on May 19, 2009
I bought the Nuvi to guide me around Spain on a recent trip. I had my doubts whether the unit would perform as advertised, but overall it did well. Initially it took some time to find the satellites, and then afterwards it found them relatively quickly.

There were a few operational issues that I have come to learn are problems most GPS' experience. For example, the voice would say turn left and the screen would show us having to make a right turn; the screen was usually correct. While driving, that uncertainty can instill serious doubt, and when you are in unknown territory, with road signs in a language other than your native tongue, doubt can quickly turn to panic. It also makes for intense conversation between the driver and passenger, whether to continue trusting a device that points you in two directions at once. Another instance of doubt: Even though I updated the map just before embarking on the trip, Nuvi insisted we were driving on a dirt road, haranguing us to get back on track, while we were driving on a new four lane superhighway that was obviously the correct route. What concerned me is that while the highway was new and it connected two major cities (Salamanca and Avila), I had updated the map a week before, so this should not have been too much of a surprise. While using the unit back in the States, it had me making a turn the wrong way down a one way street in Manhattan, which could have had disastrous consequences. I will advise Garmin on that one.

The amazing side was the technology, accurately keeping track of our speed, distance from and time remaining until we reached our destination. It was reassuring to have the double check against a printed map while en route. The unit is extremely well made, and accessories such as the window clamp, adapter and hard pillow that sits on the dashboard to hold the unit (rather than the window clamp) are sturdy and top rate. The unit is small and the screen size is perfectly adequate to read and guide you (I don't really see the need for a widescreen one). It fit easily in my fanny pack or shirt pocket for security, so as not to leave it in the car.

One major downside that I would grade Garmin one star for is their map update policy. You pay a premium to get a unit like this that has both US and European maps. The flexibility is terrific, but if you want to update the maps you have to choose which set of maps to update. You want to update the other set too? That will set you back $70!! That is petty nonsense. As I understand, this unit is new to the market. Amazon claims their turnover is high, so you always get a current map. Yet, when I checked the Garmin website, there was an update available for the maps on my Nuvi. And by updating it, I used the one and only free update offered. Again, petty nonsense.

Using the menu system requires some getting used to, and if you are in a hurry to input something on the fly, you will not be happy; it takes multiple steps and tapping to spell out the cities and street names, or scroll the Points of Interest lists.

Still in all, the unit provided a peace of mind that I have rarely had while driving overseas. The accuracy to literally bring you to a doorstep in a foreign country is remarkable. Like all things technical, perfection is not possible. This is a useful tool.
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