I mentioned that we were going to get a Garmin. We've got it shortly before leaving Cincinnati, and we've had it with us our first week in Seattle. We went with the Garmin nuvi 660 because of the unbelievable deals they had on it. I don't know if it's about to be discontinued or what, but it was showing a list price of around $700 and we got it for just over $300; everyone that carried it had it on sale. The list price is now showing as $555.71 on Garmin's website.
This is our first GPS/navigation unit, other than the nuvi we borrowed from our Realtor for a couple of days, so our review might be a bit general to all units, but I wanted to share our findings regardless.
So far, we've been pleased. It only take a few moments to enter your destination or find one, and the route is calculated in a few seconds or less. The widescreen seems to be of great benefit, because you can see quite a bit at once. Panning and zooming on the map is very natural too, similar to
Google Maps Windows Live Maps. It's very reassuring knowing that if you miss a turn (or deliberately go off course) the unit will politely announce that it is "recalculating" and then give you revised instructions. We can be much more carefree with sight-seeing knowing that we'll always know how to get to where we're going without fretting over how to get back to where we were.
In downtown Seattle, we have gotten the nuvi confused a few times. This morning, we were on I-5, over top of local streets, and it kept thinking we were on the local streets below us, telling us to turn every block, and then recalculating. It was a good thing we A) saw the unit tell us which exit we needed to get off before it got confused and; B) there were signs to the zoo from the highway. Once we got off the exit, the nuvi figured out where we were again, and picked up from there. But, it would've been good to have looked at the map before we found ourselves in uncertainty on I-5 during rush hour in Seattle. There were a few other times when it has mistakenly thought we were on 1 road when we were really on another; this primarily happens with all of the bridges and stacked roads, when driving slowly.
The nuvi 660 is able to receive traffic updates from its FM receiver. This is kinda cool, but the UI has a flaw when a delay is identified. Normally, you can press on the area where your next turn is shown to browse through the remaining steps of your route or see additional information about your next turn, but when there's a traffic delay, that area takes you to the delay information, and you are unable to see the detailed route steps. I think you only get the traffic information for 30 days unless you subscribe though, and we don't plan to subscribe. So that problem might solve itself.
The menu system is a little unintuitive for me. It took me a little bit of stumbling to find where to change the time zone and how to switch to the FM transmitter rather than the internal speaker (although I immediately changed it back). There are some other settings that seem to be harder to get to or find than they should be too. There should also be a 1-touch mute button; nothing worse than being told "Recalculating" 10 times in a row while 1 kid is crying, the other is asking for something, and the phone rings, all while trying to work through traffic; strange how the "Recalculating" announcement was the only part that seemed annoying and clicking 3 buttons to mute it made all the difference!
The text-to-speech (TTS) directions are excellent, a must-have for us. The streets out here are ridiculously names (IMHO). I understand the naming system, but I think it's a bad one. You should never be at the corner of NE 124th and 124th NE. The only problem we've
seen heard with the TTS is that "N.E." is not read as "Northeast" even though "NE" is, and when you hear "to N. E. fourth street," it sounds a lot like "twenty-fourth street," which can be quite confusing. We're getting used to that, but it's a shame you cannot correct it.
The only other problem we've had is that the business listings are already out of date. We were looking for (don't flog me) a Wal-Mart, and the nuvi found 3 for us. My wife drove to the first one, and it was actually a Sam's Club, not a Wal-Mart. Then she drove to where the second one was supposed to be, but there was nothing there, at all. After driving 30 minutes toward the third one, she realized how silly it was to drive an hour to a Wal-Mart, and she turned back. We've had a few other similar problems with business listings, but we've also had a few successes with them to. Nuvi did find a McDonald's for us shortly after leaving Sea-Tac, and I know we wouldn't have found it on our own.
For the money, I doubt the nuvi 660 can be beat, at $300-$350. The list of features is long and impressive, even though we'll never use half of them. The widescreen is great; the TTS feature is a must-have; many other features are a bonus, even though some are a waste. I would recommend the nuvi 660 if you are in the market and can find a deal like we did.
For the Mute function, if you quickly press the power button once, it will take you to the audio settings screen, and you can click Mute and then Back pretty quickly. While it's not 1-click, it's only 3 and we're getting used to it.