Hands on with the Garmin nuvi 2×5 series — the best entry level GPS on the market
UPDATE: The nuvi 2×5 series has been officially discontinued. For current recommendations, see our auto GPS buyers guide.
The Garmin nuvi 205W is one of Garmin’s entry level navigators and, as part of the nuvi 2×5 series, it’s loaded with features previously unavailable in the nuvi line or found only in high-end models. More about that in a moment; first the basics. The 205W sports a 4.3" wide touch screen (hence the "W"), and includes pre-loaded maps of the entire U.S. except Alaska. It does not feature text-to-speech, so you’ll hear "drive one-half mile, then turn left" instead of "drive one-half mile, then turn left on Oak Street."
- Step up to the nuvi 255W for text-to-speech and maps of the entire U.S. and Canada
- The nuvi 205 and nuvi 255 mimic the feature set of the 205W and 255W, albeit with a smaller, 3’5" screen
Regardless of which member of the 2×5 series you choose, you’ll have a winner. Read on to see why. And if you want to compare these to other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
Advanced features found on the Garmin nuvi 205W
None of the features below are found on this unit’s predecessor, the Garmin nuvi 200W.
Redesigned map screen
New to the map screen are the direction of and distance to next turn indicator in the upper left corner of the screen, which when pressed brings up a detailed turn preview as the unit speaks the next turn instructions. Moving this to the upper left freed up the bottom left data field which now shows your current speed. You can see all this in the screen shot below.
Speed limit icons display the speed limit for many roads, as shown above. I really like the proximity of this to the current speed display.
Trip log display
Trip log, or as I prefer to call it ;-), tracklog display, can show where you’ve been and can be downloaded to your computer (tracklogs can be cleared and the feature disabled for those of you with something to hide!). The tracklog is the thin blue line trailing behind the car / current position icon, in the screen shot above.
Recent cities and streets
This feature was first seen on the nuvi 700 series. Tap the folder icon, as shown below, and a list of recent entries comes up.
Where am I?
This emergency location feature provides your exact latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and fuel stations.
Though it’s not a feature that I find useful, you can download Google™ Panoramio™ pictures via Garmin Connect™ Photos and navigate to them.
The nuvi 2×5 series includes a built-in digital elevation model, allowing you to visualize the surrounding terrain, as shown below. Unfortunately, this only works in 2–D mode when zoomed out to at least 8 miles. The result is a nice piece of eye-candy, as shown below, but one that you are unlikely to really use.
MSN Direct or FM/TMC traffic option
You can buy an MSN Direct or FM/TMC traffic receiver as an add-on. This is often a better deal than buying a unit with MSN or FM/TMC, since the add-ons come with a full year subscription, rather than the 3 month trial included with a high-end nuvi. Physically, you end up with the same receiver.
Garmin nuvi 205W pros
- High-end features (see above) at an entry-level price
- Fast startup and satellite lock
- The speaker is quite loud; I had no trouble hearing it under any circumstances
- The ability to delete individual Favorites using the "My Data" feature
- In addition to the above, you get a quality product and intuitive interface, as we’ve come to expect from Garmin
Garmin nuvi 205W cons
- No text-to-speech; you’ll have to step up to the 255 or 255W for that feature
- The power cord is not integrated into the mount, so you have to attach the power cord each time you mount the device
The Garmin nuvi 205W is a joy to use. I recommend it, or any other member of the nuvi 2×5 series, without hesitation. Garmin has set a new standard with this product line; the nuvi 2×5 series is the best entry level GPS on the market.
More Garmin nuvi 205W reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 205W reviews are being posted at Amazon
- More consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 205W reviews are being posted at GPS Now
- CNet gives a 3-1/2 out of 5 star rating in their nuvi 205W review
- Boston.com reviewed the nuvi 205W, along with eight other units
- A user review of the nuvi 205W
- Blogger Mathai reviews the Garmin nuvi 205W
- GPS Lodge reviews the nuvi 205W
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin nuvi 205W resources
- A PDF version of the Garmin nuvi 205W owners manual.
- Confused about so many models and choices? Use this Garmin auto GPS comparison tool or check out my own Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
- There is a dedicated Garmin nuvi message forum at GpsPasSion.
- The official Garmin nuvi 205W web page
- Five tips for nuvi newbies
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- Find the low price on a Garmin nuvi 205W at GPS Now, where shipping is free on orders over $99 (and the upgrade to overnight shipping is dirt cheap!). Order by 5 p.m. Central Time for same day shipment.
- Check the current Garmin nuvi 205W price at Amazon.
- Buy the Garmin nuvi 205 Widescreen Personal Travel Assistant
at REI.com, where satisfaction is guaranteed and members get 10% back on eligible purchases.
- Get the Garmin nuvi 205W Wide-Screen Automotive GPS System with USA Maps
at TigerGPS, where you get free shipping on orders above $250.
- Get the Garmin nuvi 205W for an amazing price on eBay.
- Check out our GPS deals site for current specials and rebates on a wide range of GPS receivers.