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Tuesday, October 28, 2008



Review: Garmin Nuvi 200W Portable GPS

Just about a month ago, I purchased a Garmin Nuvi 200W 4.3″ widescreen portable GPS system. This GPS system doesn’t have the bells and whistles that a lot of the other Garmin units have, but for basic GPS functionality this unit is a great starter for anybody out there. Some features that this unit doesn’t include: Canada/Mexico maps, bluetooth capability, FM transmitter, mp3 player, and text-to-speech audio. On the other hand, it does come with a nice 4.3″ widescreen and the overall GPS functionality (the basic foundation you need to look for when deciding between a Tom Tom (TOM2.AS), Garmin (GRMN), or Magellan unit) is excellent.

One Minor Flaw

I live in an area that contains many apartment buildings, and when I leave my parking garage, it takes up to 5 minutes for the satellite to acquire. Sometimes I will even drive onto Interstate 5 and it still takes time to acquire signal. This can be troublesome if you don’t know how to start your trip and waiting 5 minutes before being directed in the correct direction can cause problems. The funniest thing is that at times I don’t have signal when I leave my apartment, but when I arrive back from a trip where I’m using the Nuvi 200W, I will have satellite signal around my apartment area.

What Features I Would Pay More For

If I had to purchase another Garmin unit, I would make sure to get the text-to-speech functionality so the portable GPS unit would announce the name of the street to turn on or an exit to turn off from a highway. This is a big upgrade compared to “take a left in .3 miles” or “exit right.” Having the text-to-speech capability allows the driver to keep their focus on the road and not keep shifting their eyes between the streets and the GPS system. At the price I paid for my refurbished unit, it was worth getting the 200W but text-to-speech functionality would be something I would like included in my next GPS unit.

Geocache Add On

By going to the Garmin site, you can load geocaches onto your GPS unit, and you can use your Garmin unit to find objects that other people have hidden in specific locations. All you simply have to do is create a free Garmin account, type in the location you want to look for geocaches, and then just choose what geocaches you want to load into your GPS unit via USB.

Overall Satisfaction: A
Features: B
Signal Quality: A-
Affordability: A

3 comments:

SBL-Geomatics said...

I am really happy to see a blog post related to GPS and Geocaching.Got an idea . Thanks for sharing. Waiting for your next post.
regards
map conversion

The Camera Fanatic said...

Great blog.

I own both the Nuvi 660 and the 760, I'm writing this review for people having trouble deciding between the two as the price difference between the two products at the time of this review is about 100 dollars. I'm not going to focus on the feature differences, as that information can be easily obtained from specifications and online reviews. The 660 was a fine product back in 2005-2006, but the new 760 outdoes the 660 in practically everything, but there are some key usability fixes that make the 760 a better buy for the frequent user.

http://tinyurl.com/gnuvi760

1. 760 has much better fonts for street names than the 660. This may seem like a trivial update to some, but the 760's fonts greatly improve visibility. The 660 uses all capitalized text for street names on the map, and the font is incredibly cartoonish and unaligned, something like the scribbling Comic Sans font on the PC. The 760 uses your standard Verdana-like font with street names in capitalized and lowercase letters. The fonts on the 760 are smaller, cleaner and surprisingly much easier to read while driving. The maps end up looking professional, and not some cartoony children's video game.

2. 760 has better rendering in 3D map mode than the 660. In the 660 when you are zoomed in under 3D map mode, the roads close to your car are displayed incredibly large, so large that they run into other roads, making the zoom function essentially kind of useless for dense roads. The 760 does not oversize your roads just because you zoomed in to view smaller roads in detail. This fix is very nice for those who drive in places with dense roadways, like New York City.

3. No antenna on the 760 makes hooking up your Nuvi to the cradle one step easier. On the 660 you need to flip up the antenna before attaching the cradle. For people who park their cars on the street overnight, removing the GPS from the cradle for storage in the console or glove compartment is a must, and it's a lot easier hooking up the 760 to the cradle than the 660. It's hard to aim the 660 to its cradle in the dark as you have to align both the bottom edge and the charge port under the antenna. In the 760, the charge port is directly on the bottom of the unit; you can attach it to the cradle with one hand in the dark easily on the 760.

4. It takes the 660 a good 45 seconds on average (sometimes longer than 2 minutes) after boot up to locate the satellite on a cold start. If you have firmware 2.6 installed on the 760, the satellite acquisition time after boot up is between 10-20 seconds. After the firmware update, my 760 also holds a stronger lock to the satellites than my 660, I can get satellite lock inside my house with the 760, whereas I can't get a lock with my 660 (adjusting the antenna does very little).

5. The ability to set multiple ad hoc viapoints on the 760 means it's a lot easier creating alternate routes (very handy to avoid a specific interstate or a high traffic road). Whereas the 660 gives you just one viapoint.

UPDATE: This GPS is currently on sale at Amazon… now is your chance to buy one, if you haven’t already. You can find the product page here:

http://tinyurl.com/gnuvi760

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