The rumors were true — Garmin announced today the introduction of the nuvi 500 series — multi-use navigators for driving, cycling, walking and boating. Ruggedized and waterproof, the nuvi 500 series sports a 3.5″ touchscreen and appears to share the feature set and much of the interface of the nuvi 2×5 series I wrote about this morning, including the ability to add MSN Direct or FM/TMC traffic.
The nuvi 500 comes with pre-loaded City Navigator and topo maps of the 48 contiguous United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The 550 offers highway coverage of the entire U.S. and Canada but drops the topo maps.
Both units have a removable, li-ion battery (rated at up to 8 hours), with a micro-SD card slot underneath it. A usage mode indicator at the top of the home screen (pictured below) allows you to change modes.
Unlike the 2×5 series, the units support multi-destination routing, and I assume this applies to driving mode as well as the other modes. They do not support text-to-speech.
One big unknown is whether or not the The units fully support paperless geocaching.
Availability is listed as the 3rd quarter, and I expect we’ll see these units at the Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show next month if not sooner. One retailer is showing an availability date of August 10 for the nuvi 500, which coincides well with an unveiling at OR.
I’ll either update this post or put up a new post as additional information becomes available.