Navigation unit offers premium features at a budget-friendly price.
If you're shopping for a bargain-priced GPS, searching for the previous year's models is often a good place to start. One of the current best finds is the Garmin Nuvi 265WT. While it still carries a hefty list price of $220 on the Garmin Website (as of 1/21/2011), you can generally find it online for $100 less.
The 265WT is essentially a 4.3-inch widescreen version of the older Garmin 265T. It shares an otherwise identical feature set with its 3.5-inch-screen sibling. Though included in Garmin's 200 series of Nuvis aimed at entry-level buyers, the 265WT includes features often found only in midlevel or premium-priced devices.
When it first shipped, Garmin broke ground by offering a built-in traffic receiver with subscription-free, advertising-supported lifetime traffic alerts. While driving, you'll occasionally get a pop-up alert for one of the advertisers, but it doesn't happen too frequently, and the ads are fairly easy to ignore. The Nuvi 265WT will evaluate a traffic alert and offer to reroute you around it for your current route. Alternatively, it will alert you to traffic on your current road if you aren't currently using the device for turn-by-turn directions. You don't need to be guided around too many traffic jams to really appreciate the value of this feature.
Like the 265T, the 265WT includes Navteq maps for the U.S. and Canada. Map upgrades aren't included with the product, but are available by separate purchase. As with all Garmin Nuvis, the user interface on the 265WT features Garmin's "Where to" and "View Map" main menu, so the UI makes navigating easy.
The Nuvi 265WT also includes a Bluetooth speaker phone interface. In my tests, it connected properly with my phone, but unlike the Bluetooth interface found on Garmin's premium products, the 265WT does not have the ability to read the contact list out of your phone. Still, in states like mine (New Jersey) that require you to use a hands-free device while driving, the Bluetooth interface can be very handy.
The Eco-route feature uses the mileage performance that you input for your car and the current fuel price to estimate the cost of your trip. There's even a "Less fuel" routing option in addition to the traditional shortest-route and fastest-time routing profiles. You can also take the "eco challenge" and let the 265WT evaluate your driving habits. As you might suspect, rapid starts and stops, as well as speeding, hurts your score.
Compared to the competition's current crop of 4.3-inch GPS devices, the Nuvi 265WT does lack a couple of features. For example, it doesn't have highway lane guide, a feature that shows you the correct lane for a highway maneuver. Newer competitors not only show you the correct lane, but also include the "green" highway road signs you'll see. The 265WT also does not include multisegment routing that lets you specify multiple destinations within a single trip.
Still, if you want an affordable 4.3-inch GPS device with the friendly Garmin navigation experience, it's hard to miss with the Nuvi 265WT. It's an "oldie but goodie," and it remains one of my favorites.
This story, "Review: Garmin Nuvi 265WT" was originally published by PCWorld.
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