Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Impressions of the Nuvi 660

A few weeks ago I wrote about my search for a portable GPS. At the time, I had narrowed my selection down to the Garmin Nuvi 660, the TomTom GO 720 and the Dash Express. I went with the Nuvi 660 for the following reasons:
  • Tom Tom seemed European focused
  • I loved my old Garmin GPS V and trusted the Garmin company
  • The Dash Express was very attractive due to it's two-way internet connection and real time traffic routing network, but the reality is that their system is untested and their unit is oversized and overpriced. I will look at Dash again when they come out with their next generation units.
  • I got the Nuvi for free with AMEX points--I couldn't do that with either of the others. Free is hard to beat!
So far I have only minor problems with the Nuvi 660. I love it's easy, intuitive interface, its bright large color screen, its easy voice prompts. The included windshield mount/charging station is strong, stable, and eliminates the need to fumble with a wire every time you use it. The Nuvi gets me where I am going and is easy to use. The FM traffic monitoring service picks up traffic alerts from all over my metropolitan area without interruption. However, I do have several problems with it.

  1. Traffic data usability: The traffic data is for my local area only. Other areas require additional subscriptions ($60/year?). I guess I could have gone with the MSN service on the Nuvi 670, but that (I assume) would not make up for the other flaw in the traffic service, it's user interface. The system forces the user to navigate through several menus to actually see the alert details. The larger overview map that shows alerts is pretty much unreadable, so getting to the actual data is key, and it takes several menu levels to get there.
  2. Navigation Data: My old GPS V has four data boxes that could be configured to show me different navigation data like estimated time of arrival, miles remaining, velocity made good, compass direction, and more. The Nuvi has two data fields that are hard coded to distance to next turn and estimated time of arrival. Granted, those are probably the two most important fields to me, but I would like to see more. As it is, the Nuvi 660 doesn't even offer much of this other data at all, even in submenus. Darn!
Those are really minor issues. I love my Nuvi 660!

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