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I have owned this sat nav system for at least a year and on the whole have only had one problem with it.
Is has easy to use menu system, it is also easy to input addresses and brings up an on screen keyboard for you to do this. One thing I really like about this sat nav is that it has a lot of points of interests. You can search for things like petrol stations and different shopping or food places, you can also choose whether you want to find things near where you are now, near your destination, on your current route or at a completely different destination to all of the above. This is something that I have found invaluble especially for long journeys and holidays in England.
One fun thing about this sat nav is that you can download different vehicles and voices. I haven't actually downloaded a voice yet but there are a few to choose from on the Garmin website.
The only thing that I don't like about my sat nav is that it takes quite some time to acquire satelites when you turn the system on. It is usually quicker if you turn it on in the same place you turned it off. However it can still be really slow, even if you are outside and not near buildings. This might be due to the fact that it's aerial is internal, all of the other sat navs I have seen (friends and family owned) have flip up aerials and they all acquire the signal pretty quickly.
This downside isn't too annoying for me as I don't use it frequently. I would recommend it but if you are going to use it quite often it may be better to look for one with a flip out aerial or a stronger signal in general.
This is the first ever SatNav I have owned and I am not entirely certain which features are typical for all of them, which are Garmin's speciality and which are exclusive to this one. I suspect most of what I write (and possibly more) will apply to the whole nuvi 700 series.
I have owned this particular model for over a year now, and when I bought it it was around £190 from Amazon. I have not updated the maps yet, despite encouragement from the device, as I don't live in an area of frantic road building and they seem perfectly adequate as for now.
It's a wide-screen, supposedly "ultra slim" design and came preloaded with City Navigator Europe NT; features turn-by-turn directions, traffic alert and bluetooth capacity for hands-free calls.
I have used it primarily for countryside and town driving in Scotland, as well as during three days' trip to the west of Ireland.
I have not used its bluetooth functionality as I have no need for making or taking calls while driving (and considering the fact that I am rather fresh driver, having passed my test only last year, I wouldn't want to).
==Design, Interface and General Usability==
I like the wide screen and I think it was worth paying more for.
The whole unit is reasonably small, though, a size of a larger pocket camera and it's easy to just click it on and off the windscreen suction mount.
The screen is very clear, with good visibility even in bright sunlight and the interface is completely button-free, with large buttons on the screen which are easy to press and hard to mis-press - very good thing for my large, slightly stiff and clumsy fingers. I still prefer to use an object (a car key, a pen) to operate it, but it works fine with fingers too.
The whole system loads up reasonably quickly after switching on, sometimes it takes a while to locate the satellites in our drive, but that is probably due to the location as I never have the same problem anywhere else.
The interface is very, very good. Somebody clearly gave it some thought (and a lot of usability testing) as it's clear, uncluttered and very intuitive. I avoid reading manuals almost on principle and am very happy to report that so far it wasn't necessary with this machine.
Menus, again, are very intuitive and I almost never had problems finding a place where some function is located.
==Finding Your Way==
There are two ways you can use the system - one is the obvious one (to program it to take you to a particular place) and the other is to simply have the map displayed as you drive.
I tend to have it on in this latter mode most of the time unless going on completely routine drives that I know very well; I like to see the shape of the road (particularly the angle of the bends) to come and I find it very useful particularly when driving on country roads in the hills that pretty much surround us.
Programming a particular location is also easy: you can either enter an address (a postcode is the best option, but not necessary) or chose form predefined points of interest.
===Programming Address or Postcode===
There is a nice, big keyboard taking up most of the screen - another advantage of the wide screen is that the keys are bigger. I have it set as QWERTY, but there is option of having it alphabetically (no idea who would like to sue this, but presumably some people do - maybe those used to mobile phone keypads?).
What I don't like is that the system doesn't recognise UK postcodes entered without spaces - one unnecessary keystroke could be saved if it did, and if the Royal Mail on-line system and Google can, why not Garmin?
You need to choose country when entering addresses, which may be occasionally a pain, but is probably only an issue for somebody living and driving a lot on the borders between Scotland or Wales and England.
If you are entering an address without a postcode, the system suggests a place name and a street name as soon as the first few letters are entered - this is a great, keystroke-saving feature.
You don't have to enter a house number, but you do have to enter a street name or a road number. This can be a pain if looking for general directions to small place - the High/Main Street is usually, but not always, a good workaround.
====Choosing Predefined Locations===
Instead of entering a particular address or postcode you can also choose from a variety of predefined locations. Points of Interest offer a very good selection of destinations, from petrol stations (perhaps the best list overall) shops to restaurants to attractions to banks to (particularly useful) car parks. The quality of this varies depending on where you are, but it does seem to miss a lot of smaller locations. Overall it's better when you know what you are roughly looking for but is likely to take you further than you need, especially in the countryside.
Irish data was significantly worse though - we used in in Kerry and it tended to point to banks located 400km away in Dublin!
You can of course program your favourites in - either by entering an address, or by actually clicking on the map and saving the location.
===Finally We Are Driving===
The map has three options of display, either 3-D (with road in front of the little car icon), North up or track up. I normally use the 3-D mode which is intuitive and natural.
The map displayed when driving without directions displayed show not just the road, but also your speed in one bottom corner (this seems to be consistently about 7% lower than the speed indicated by my speedometer, I do wonder which is correct) and the direction you are driving towards in the other corner.
If driving with directions, the speed display is replaced by the estimated time of arrival and the geographical direction is replaced by information about the next turn (turn in 2 miles, right in 200 yards etc.).
Overall I like this display, but I would actually like to have the actual time or some form of countdown to arrival displayed on the device too - this is possibly because my car clock is lower down and I need two glances to estimate "how long until we get there".
We did initially use the voice directions as well, but stopped pretty quickly: a machine is a machine and it becomes too insistent when it starts talking to you and can lead you into trouble - I tend to use the SatNav as a guiding device rather than an absolute oracle, and having the voice directions muted works best for me. The screen is large enough and mapping and the turn by turn instructions displayed on the screen are perfectly sufficient.
===Are We There Yet?===
I am quite impressed with the mapping provided by the Garmin. In my experience so far, the routes suggested by the system are the best ones. Occasionally I check other route planners before setting off (AA or/and Google maps) and the routes mapped by Garmin tend to be the best. You have the option to get the fastest or shortest route, and you can request the system to avoid major roads, tolls, ferries, traffic and U-turns. I have it set up to avoid traffic only.
If you get off course for some reason, the system recalculates quite quickly - sometimes taking you back to the original route, sometimes changing to an alternative. I like that as my natural indication (if driving on my own or navigating somebody else without a map) would be to turn round and go back, but it's often not necessary.
The estimated arrival times are pretty accurate, and get updated depending on what you are doing. They do use average speeds for a type of the road, though, without taking into account the character of the road - considering the fact that at least around here some B road are actually incredibly bendy and occasionally even single track, this is sometimes more optimistic than the actual results, especially in worse weather. But the continuous updates take care of this and overall the ETAs are quite impressively on the mark.
I have not used the extras that this device is equipped with (the Bluetooth being the main one), although other users report they work well. The voice directions can be transmitted through the car's stereo, which I can't see a reason for, unless it's to use it as an mp3 player (yes, it has this function too; and a picture viewer too).
In addition to normal car navigation, it also has a bicycle and pedestrian mode. I do think these are a bit gimmicky though, as the battery life on this device (possibly due to the size of the screen) is rather poor (you could turn the screen brightness down, of course) and the mapping is limited as no terrain info is displayed. But dirt tracks and major footpaths/bridleways do appear when switching from car to cycle/walking mode and obviously you can get your exact geographical position and elevation, which can be very useful in combination with a normal map - just remember to switch it off to save battery.
I have been very happy with my Garmin nuvi. It's one of the rare devices that has proved more useful than I initially thought it would be. It does what it's supposed to do very well, the interface is intuitive and very easy to use, the display clear and the mapping and routing good.
With the 700 series Garmin has elegantly combined advanced technology with enhancements to its user interface to ensure an intuitive and easy navigation experience. This is combined with elegant design and an integrated antenna to make it exceptionally compact and stylish. It also comes with traffic warnings to tell you of any congestion ahead and safety camera alerts for mobile as well as fixed cameras.
It may be exceptionally simple-to-use but the advanced and innovative features mean the nüvi 700 series is ideal for all users from holidaymakers to businessmen/women.