Garmin nuvi 255W

Entry-level GPS with a widescreen display

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Garmin nuvi 255W
  • Garmin nuvi 255W
  • Garmin nuvi 255W
  • Garmin nuvi 255W
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Compact design, ease of use and operation, Where Am I help menu, Australian text-to-speech voices, preloaded speed and red light camera alerts

Cons

  • No Bluetooth, no FM transmitter, speaker volume lacks punch, unorthodox address input method, sluggish start-up time

Bottom Line

While not offering any advanced features like Bluetooth, the nuvi 255W features text-to-speech technology and provides a solid combination of excellent navigation and ease of use.

Would you buy this?

Garmin's nuvi 255W has a similar design and user interface to most of the company's other GPS units. This is good news for consumers, as the ease of use and simple map display will please most.

The 255W is compact and slim, though there are no real outstanding design features. The window mount follows the same format — a benefit should you use the unit in multiple vehicles. A power slide key is the only button on the unit, with other functions accessed through the touch screen. An SD card slot allows extra maps or other data to be uploaded, and a regular mini-USB connection handles charging and synchronising. A USB cable is included in the sales package.

The W in 255W stands for widescreen and the extra real estate is put to good use with clear maps and a simple but colourful user interface. It's not the best display we have seen, but for the price it is reasonably large and it does perform quite well in direct sunlight.

Garmin units are renowned for their ease of use and the 255W continues this trend. Menu items are accompanied by large boxes with text or clearly labelled icons. The main menu is very straightforward, with large icons for Where To and View Map, in addition to smaller icons for volume and tools.

The nuvi 255W can navigate to a specific address, a Point of Interest (POI), a recent location, a specific junction or your favourites. Like most of the Garmin range, it also allows you to directly input a specific GPS coordinate and features Where Am I — a convenient menu that shows your exact latitude and longitude as well as the nearest junction. You can also quickly find the closest hospitals, police stations and petrol stations in case of emergency.

Navigating to an address is simple, but frustratingly Garmin still hasn't corrected the search order. Searches must be made in order of suburb, street number and then street name, but logic tells us that you should enter the street number after selecting the street and not before.

Despite its entry-level price point, the nuvi 255W includes text-to-speech technology, meaning it reads out street names. Two Australian text-to-speech voices (one male and one female) are included, and both pronounce most street names accurately. The volume is disappointing: the speaker lacks the punch of the speakers on many competing GPS units. Without the built-in FM transmitter seen in other Garmin models there is no real way around this issue.

The nuvi 255W comes preloaded with City Navigator Australia NT and includes more than 600,000 POIs. Speed and red light cameras are preloaded onto the unit, but school zones and other safety alerts have to be downloaded from the Garmin Web site and then uploaded onto the unit. Being an entry-level unit, the 255W lacks Bluetooth connectivity.

The nuvi 255W doesn't use the popular SiRF Star III GPS receiver; Garmin simply lists a receiver without providing further details. Thankfully, the unit's GPS performance is solid and rerouting times are in line with most other units. Our main complaint is reserved for the sluggish start-up time when you turn on the unit, an issue common with recent Garmin models.

Garmin rounds out the package by offering a number of extras, including a picture viewer, calculator, world clock and unit converter; it has no MP3 or video player.

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