Garmin nuvi 1260 GPS unit

An entry level GPS unit has a downsized display and a Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone

Garmin nuvi 1260
  • Garmin nuvi 1260
  • Garmin nuvi 1260
  • Garmin nuvi 1260
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5


  • Compact size, good navigational experience, fast GPS fix and re-routing times, Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone, ecoRoute function


  • Small screen, no lane guidance, maps lack a little detail

Bottom Line

The inclusion of a Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone makes the Garmin nuvi 1260 GPS unit good value for money. If the smaller display and the limitations it brings doesn't concern you, then this GPS unit offers an excellent navigational experience for a fairly low price.

Would you buy this?

An entry level GPS unit with a downsized display, Garmin's nuvi 1260 is ideal for anyone on a budget. For a reasonable $349, the nuvi 1260 includes a text-to-speech feature and a Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone and it provides a solid navigational experience — provided you can live with the smaller display size and no lane guidance features.

The Garmin nuvi 1260 follows a similar design to the rest of the nuvi range, albeit in a much smaller frame. The matte black bezel with gloss black edging, and soft plastic back give this a GPS unit a sleek, minimalist look and feel. Garmin claims the nuvi 1260 GPS unit is 25 per cent slimmer than the devices in the previous nuvi range — nonetheless it feels reasonably well built, despite its compact size. The included window mount is also a compact size and the nuvi 1260 can be easily clipped on and off.

The Garmin nuvi 1260's user interface is simple, yet effective, although the smaller screen does detract from the user experience overall. In particular, the keyboard layout is a little squashed when compared to the larger nuvi GPS units, and you can't change the default ABC keyboard layout. The good news is that the smaller display doesn't affect most menu items — and the touch screen is still responsive.

Garmin's map display lacks a little detail compared to its rivals, although it is clear and easy to read. Two boxes in each corner display a variety of time and speed information, although there is no option to enable extra information — we think this is because the display can't fit any additional components on the already small map screen.

The maps themselves are provided by Whereis and come pre-loaded with safety alerts including fixed speed cameras and red light cameras alerts. The safety warnings trigger an audible alert and voice warning, but the notification on the map screen is a tad too small. In our tests we didn't experience too many performance issues, although the Whereis map tends to not pick up 'No right turn' signs. The maps generally provide the fastest route to your destination available, though the nuvi 1260 (like most GPS units) has a tendency to prefer directing using main roads rather than suggesting the more detailed, yet faster back street routes. The nuvi 1260 includes maps of both Australia and New Zealand preloaded.

The Garmin nuvi 1260 emulates Garmins other GPS units in its range in terms of GPS performance — this is one of the fastest GPS units we've reviewed. From browsing the menu, to gaining and maintaining a GPS signal and re-routing when you take a wrong turn on a planned route, the nuvi 1260 is fast and it showed no sign of lag or slowdown at any stage of our tests.

A useful feature missing from the basic, smaller nuvi models is the lane assist feature. While it's primarily design to assist with motorway and freeway exits, the lane assist feature improves the overall navigational experience — especially as motorways are a common source of confusion for a newbie visiting an unfamiliar city. The Garmin nuvi 1260 doesn't include a subscription to the SUNA Traffic Channel, but it can be purchased as an optional extra.

Surprisingly, the nuvi 1260 GPS unit includes Bluetooth hands-free capabilities — a feature that's not commonly found on cheaper, budget GPS models. This hands-free speakerphone works well and we found it easy to connect. The built-in microphone lacks the pick-up required to hold a conversation too far away from the unit, and the microphone picked up plenty of background noise.

Garmin's new "ecoRoute" feature (featured on all it's new nuvi GPS units) can display a fuel report and choose an economical route for your journey. At the start of your journey enter the cost of fuel and your car’s rated fuel economy into the ecoRoute calculator, and the nuvi 1260 will provide a report detailing the cost of the fuel used (measured in litres per km), your carbon footprint, as well as your average fuel economy based on your trips. When in use, ecoRoute will also preview your route before it begins by displaying the total fuel cost — this information is calculated based on the fuel price, type and fuel economy entered into the vehicle profile menu. Under the fuel list you can select unleaded, diesel and ethanol options although an interesting omission is premium unleaded fuel.

ecoRoute also offers a driving challenge feature that tests your driving habits, in particular your ability to smoothly accelerate and decelerate. Plus for business users, a mileage report is helpful for keeping a record for business expense and tax purposes.

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