Getting there with the Garmin nüvi 650 navigation system

garmin_nuvi_650_gps I purchased the Garmin nüvi 650 GPS navigation system back in November 2007. Amazon offered a substantial discount at the time which knocked $100 off the normal retail price of $400. Still a considerable sum for an electronics gadget, I weighed my buying decision heavily, finally making the plunge after admitting I travel to new cities regularly and hate getting lost.

I have a decent memory and good sense of direction but the Garmin provides a level of confidence that makes it worth the money—especially when driving at night. The 650 model announces street names (Text to Speech) and works in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Its 4.3” screen looks vibrant and sharp in all lighting conditions, from direct sunshine to pitch dark. The touch screen provides dependable control and navigation of the well-designed user interface. It offers quick-and-convenient ways to change routes on-the-fly and track statistics such as current direction, miles per hour and estimated time of arrival.

No navigation system guarantees 100% accuracy when calculating routes either for shortest time or distance. Accordingly, no system substitutes for common sense and paying attention to posted signs. Also, it can take some time for new routes to be added. I got burned twice while in Chicago for the holidays. The first occurred because I-355 was extended and the Garmin prompted me to exit on a ramp that no longer exists. The second was the shortest time route the Garmin offered to get me from the western suburbs into the city was not the shortest or most direct.

On the flip side, the Garmin saved me in Dayton while schlepping my brother, sister and niece around in the dark. We got caught in holiday traffic on I-75. I turned off at the next exit, just north of Centerville, blindly trusting the Garmin to find a faster route. A few moments after taking the off ramp, the Garmin announced it was recalculating then immediately provided a route which avoided the expressway. I lived in Dayton for 17 years and never knew that route was there. Further, the route involved several turns that I would surely have missed while driving in the winter at night were it not for the navigation system.

If you are in the market for a navigation system—assuming the fad has not already passed—I can unequivocally recommend the Garmin nüvi 650. As long as you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be disappointed.