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The Garmin Nuvi 250w is a wide screen sat nav. It charges via the cigarette lighter socket in the car, and can be powered directly from this, or via the battery within the unit. Mostly this is a gadget which doesn't get used because I don't often drive anywhere that I don't know well enough to just use road signs, but on the occasions when I do use this, it is actually a very useful gadget to own.
When you first look at the Garmin Nuvi, you see a small oblong unit with a screen on it. It looks like it ought to be a hand held games console or something, but in fact, it's a sat nav. On turning it on, you get icons on the screen which are designed in a similar way to those on a windows pc or a touch screen phone. Touching an icon will take you into that element of software, and when you first set the system up, you load it with your personal information such as your 'home' address. Doing this means that when you use it, you can easily tell it to 'go home' and it knows where you want to go - much simpler than having to program your details in for each return journey.
To set the destination point for your outward journey, you select the 'address' icon, and input the various details - postcode, house number, city etc. After this, the screen changes to a map and connects to the satellites so that it knows your current location. The map feature has various levels and the +/- button on screen allows you to zoom in and out through them. A car or pointer shows where you are on the map and it always sits at the bottom centre so that you can see the parts of the map which are coming next.
The voice part of the Garmin Nuvi is a female voice, and isn't a particularly annoying one, although on a long journey, after a number of times of hearing her saying 'at the next junction turn left' a few times, you do get a little sick of the sound. The voice gives you the information that as a driver you need in plenty of time, so that you know when you are approaching a roundabout it will tell you to enter the roundabout and to take the 3rd exit, and then as you enter the roundabout you are reminded again which allows you to keep your eyes on the road and what's going on around you.
A small amount of additional information is given on screen through the journey - you have your speed at the bottom left, and your estimated arrival time at the bottom right. If you are in a zone where there are speed cameras you get a warning flashes on the screen along with the speed limit for that section of road, and a noise to alert you to glance at the sat nav screen.
The system is quite simple and intuitive meaning that even if you've never used a sat nav before, you can quite quickly get used to how the system works and use it effectively even if you never learn anything about all the extras that it has available. For me this is idea, as I'm not likely to use most of the extras which means that I don't particularly feel the need to know too much about how they work.
Very briefly however, other features include:
Points of Interest:
Gives information about various facilities that are available in that area from petrol stations and shops to places to stay, parks, museums and landmarks etc.
Last few places you've navigated to stored in a list so you can re-select them.
When you're at a location, save it to your favourites, give it a name and it's stored forever so you can get directions for that location without re-programming the Garmin Nuvi again.
Allows you to locate a junction point of two roads.
So you always know the time no matter where you are.
I guess this is here because they could. I have no idea why I'd need a calculator when driving however.
Insert the media card from your camera and view the pictures on the Garmin Nuvi's screen.
As I say, I don't really bother with any of the other features much, for me a sat nav is about allowing me to navigate from one place to another without having to stop and read maps along the way. Overall, for a unit which costs around the £100 mark, this isn't bad. All I could say against it are that updates could be cheaper, as if you live in or are travelling to an area where there is mass development going on, you really do need them.
The Garmin Nuvi 250w is rather a nice compact little wide screen sat nav. We received ours second hand from my dad when he upgraded, and since we got it, we've used it a fair few times to help us get to and from places. We find the thing a bit of a nag sometimes, even when she's being helpful, so hubby fondly named her Ethel, and it's stuck!
In order to tell the Ethel where to take you, you absolutely definitely need the full post code! This is a must because with only a partial postcode, you'll end up in the wrong place, and believe me if you're in a town with a one way system that can be a ruddy nightmare! - yes, as you've probably guessed, we've done just this, we guessed at it because well, we'd been there before and thought we'd recognise that last little bit... nah! Neeeever that simple, believe me it's better to spend a few extra minutes before you start out making sure you've got the full and correct post code.
Quite simply, you turn Ethel on, agree to her silly warning that says don't try to do stuff while you're actually driving (I mean who would try and program something like that while driving!), and then touch the 'where to?' icon on the screen. Here you'll see 6 icons - Address, Go Home, Points of Interest, Recently Found, Favourites, Junctions. To program where you want to go, you select 'Address' (I'll come back to the other options in a minute).
Now, this is where you can put in the city, postcode, or search all. We've made the mistake of putting in a partial postcode and doing a search, and to be honest we've never really found that bit that helpful, the way it's listed often makes it so that you're not really sure, so like I've already said lol, do yourself a favour and check out the full postcode of where you want to go and put that in at this point, it really will help in the long run.
When you've done this, the screen will change to a map and after a moment or two, it will pick up on your current location and it will show your vehicle as an icon at the bottom of the screen. A pink coloured line will show the route that it wants you to take.
Now that you're on the map screen, you can zoom in and out using the + and - buttons, to see more or less of the map and journey. Ethel will start to talk to you now as well, she'll tell you what to do and she's a bossy cow! 'In 0.2 miles enter roundabout'... 'Enter Roundabout and take the 3rd exit'... 'Continue for 1.2 miles' and so on. I have to say that when you're quite close to home and know where you're going this can be pretty irritating, especially in a city like Milton Keynes where we live which is all roundabouts. When you're further afield and don't know where you're going, it's quite useful and in fact there are moments where you're wanting her to speed up a bit because you're on the roundabout and want to know which exit to take. If you're at a point where you can glance at the sat nav, the pink line will show you which direction roughly to take which is fine, however, if you're on a roundabout with 5 or 6 exits, you can't always tell from just a glance which one is your exit, so you do need her to talk to you.
At the bottom of the screen, on the left, it tells you your speed - this isn't completely accurate, as we've been doing 27/28mph according to our car, and Ethel thinks we're doing 31mph and starts getting her knickers in a twist because we're in a 30mph zone.
On the right side at the bottom of the screen, it says what time it expects you will reach your destination, and at the top on the left, it tells you how far in miles or tenths of a mile it is till your next instruction.
If you make a wrong turn, Ethel is pretty clever at realising this quite quickly and tells you that she's 'recalculating'. She then either finds an alternative route for you, or basically takes you somewhere that you can turn around and go back to re-join the route she wants you on. In a city like Milton Keynes where it's all roundabouts and grid roads, she usually re-calculates and just adjusts the route, however she's been known to try and make us turn round at the next roundabout. - I should say here, that when we first got Ethel, hubby decided to try and argue with her (typical bloke I know!), he programmed her to take us somewhere, and then ignored her and did it his way. What this meant was that Ethel became more irritating than ever, she kept on telling him to do this or that and he kept ignoring her, and she'd recalculate and try again. Surprisingly eventually they ended up on the same page as it were as we arrived at our destination and both seemed to think they'd won!
I said I'd come back to these, so here we go. Ethel has a few additional features in her gizzards. Some of these are quite useful, others we've not personally found so, but I'm sure that for someone who did more touristy travelling than we do, many of them would be quite useful.
Go Home - This quite simply means you don't have to program your own address details in every time, you just do it once, allocate that as 'home' and tell her to take you home, and she does so, a bit of a time saver really.
Points of interest - This one's not a feature we've used much to be honest. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to tell me about nice museums and parks to visit, and it does, but it's actually quite a lot more than that. It can tell you where to find restaurants and takeaways, petrol stations, airports and busses, places to stay, shops, banks and atms, parking facilities, hospitals, entertainment (cinemas, casinos, nightclubs), recreation (bowling, golf, ice skating, parks etc.), and attractions (amusement parks, museums, land marks etc.). I think if we were staying somewhere that we didn't know, this facility would be quite a useful one, but most of the places we go to, are places we're either visiting for a specific purpose, or places that we know reasonably well, so we don't have much cause to ask Ethel to search for places for us. We have used it once to find an atm in a strange town, and once to look for where the nearest petrol station was, but I think that's about it so far.
Recently found - This is where Ethel stores the last few places you've been, so if you're staying somewhere and go out for a drive, you can go to this bit, and find your way back. We did it once when staying with friends, we went out for a drive which was in gorgeous countryside, but got a bit lost and so used this to re-locate our friends home.
Favourites - To save a location that you are at, to your favourites, just select it on the map and tell Ethel to store it, and she will. Good for storing the hotel where you're staying when on holiday, or places you visit regularly, but find hard to locate and such we've found.
Junctions - I have to own, we've never used this feature. It appears to let you locate a specific junction of two roads which I guess could be useful if you didn't know the postcode of some place you wanted to go, but did know it was at the corner of north street and west street say. I can't honestly say I can think of any other use for it and it does seem a slightly odd feature to me.
There are a few other features on here, which are completely unrelated to driving as well. There's a world clock, a calculator, a unit convertor, and a picture viewer - you can insert a media card into this which means you can actually use the screen to view your photos from your camera. This is not something we've ever used, mostly because our camera has a good size screen on it so it's easy enough to see pictures there, but if your camera didn't have a good size screen then this would let you see the pictures in a big enough size to view them comfortably I think.
~Ease of use~
The first time I used Ethel, I'd not read the instruction manual, but found it quite easy to find where to put the address details, and how to tell the system to take us from where we were to where we wanted to be. I have to admit, that having a touch screen phone probably helps with this as the Garmin is touch screen. I guess if you weren't used to that sort of set up, it might be slightly less obvious.
One other nice thing with Ethel is that she's not just for the car. She can work as a hand held navigator if you go out walking. Basically she uses the same information, but you just walk along holding her. I don't walk very much myself due to my disability, so I've not tried this method of use, but my dad is a bird watcher, and I can see that for him this was quite a useful feature.
Overall, I like the simplicity of the Garmin System. Ethel might be slightly irritating and a bit of a nag, but as a useful tool, she's pretty cool. You can turn her volume up and down, you can adjust the brightness of the screen, both of which make it easier when you're travelling to be able to see and hear her without her becoming too intrusive. I know it's possible to update her software every so often too, to make sure that she is completely up to date with her road maps, and where speed cameras and things are, we've not had to do this yet, and I know it does cost, but I don't know how much.
I think the most irritating thing for me is when she starts moaning about speed limits and you're under them already - I don't think she's very well calibrated on that score tbh. She's also a bit of a nag when it comes to speed camera, flashing the speed camera symbol on screen whenever you enter an area where there is one. Now god forbid you happen to be above (or she thinks you're above) the speed limit because then she starts beeping at you too. We're not people who drive fast, so this isn't something she's got to worry about with us (except as I say her calibration seems a little off), but I guess if you were someone who did drive fast and wanted to be warned so you'd avoid getting caught by the cameras then you'd maybe find this useful.
It's strange having Ethel in the car with us, I used to just have a nice simple map book, and if we needed to figure out where we were, whoever wasn't driving would look it up. Didn't work too well in towns, but we've never fallen off the edge of the world doing it this way, and I have to say I think it's a more relaxed method. I don't think I'd buy something like this brand new, it's too expensive (around £100 mark), but as it was a gift, we don't mind giving Ethel car space.
The Garmin 250W has exceeded my expectations!
In my new job I am travelling to places that I don't know that well - and so far my new Sat nav has got me where I need to be without any problems!
Set up is very simple, instructions tell you everything you need to know how to get the unit up and running properly. The unit itself is pretty decent to look at, so its not an eyesore when your driving along with it in your field of view.
Maps can be viewed in either 2D or 3D, and can also be zoomed in and out. Theres plenty opf built in points of interest as well so you'll never be short of a petrol station etc. Another useful function is the auto dim feature - at dusk the screen automatially dulls, and while still being easy to see does not distract from driving
I have no complaints and would recommend this Sat nav to anyone - just get it at the right price, anywhere around £100 is a good deal!
I love my TomTom, but when I saw one of these on Amazon for under £100 I just whipped out my credit card. My TomTom was an older version with standard 4:3 screen, so this promised to be a good update.
At the time I was doing some part time courier work, so the purchase, although unplanned, could be very helpful. When it arrived I was very pleased. The widescreen format is very nice, the screen is also very bright and clear. The on-screen display also looked very easy to follow. After popping onto the Garmin website, I had even put a little car on the display that had a Christmas tree on the roof (very appropriate because it was that time of year).
Planning a route is simple. Tap Navigate to and enter a postcode, followed by a street, then a number for the house or building and you are presented with a confirmation of your destination. Tapping go sets you on your way. Entering this information is my first annoyance. If you make a mistake and touch the back button, you are taken all the way back and have to start all over again. It will not just delete one letter of you typing error. This is very annoying.
Anyway, over the next four weeks I used it for all these local courier journeys. I did around 200 deliveries and it only let me down once. It did not know where a new estate had been built. So not a device error, just the maps being out of date. I asked someone and they gave me the name of a nearby road to get me to my delivery. Overall, for local journeys a pretty good result.
Then I used it on a 150 mile trip. I was returning from this journey and I cannot remember exactly, but it routed me down this side road. A left and a right and I thought there was something wrong. Then I came up to this barrier and it was one of the access roads where emergency vehicles, like police cars, joined the motorway. What was I to do, I could not reverse as it was too tight a space, so I nervously had to get onto the hard shoulder then onto the motorway. Very dangerous.
I still use the Nuvi from time to time, but for longer journeys I use my old TomTom and I am saving the pennies for a new 930T.
What a great little device...
This is another version of the ever so popular tom tom. This version is around the same price and just as good. The navigation system is pretty small and is silver in colour. It is not square, and is slightly oblong.
The sat nav screen attaches to your window by a suction method, you can tilt and turn this to your desire
The navigation system is in colour and displays the map in 3d for you to find your way. On the front screen there is an estimated time of arrival and how many metres you need to go before your next turn off. At the top of the screen are written instructions of the next turn off. The lady also speaks to you and tells you the direction in which you need to go, so you really cant get lost. The navigation system also tells you if you are speeding as it beeps continuously to let you know.
Overall the device is good value for money and can be found on amazon for around 100 pounds.