Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 50

Garmin nuvi 50

UPDATE: This model has been replaced by the nuvi 52 (49 states) and nuvi 54 (US + Canada).

The Garmin nüvi 50 is a 5” ultra-wide screen navigator in Garmin’s new 2012 Essential series. The models in this series are meant to be basic navigators at a budget price, lower than what we’ve previously seen for Garmin entry-level models. Nevertheless, they do come with some features not previously found on low-end nuvis, such as speed limit display, assist and junction view.

Related units

  • Step up to the nuvi 50LM to get lifetime map updates
  • Or drop down to the nuvi 40 and you’ll get the same features as the 50, but with a smaller 4.3” screen
  • To see how the nuvi 50 stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart

Two versions

Two versions of the nuvi 50 series are available – one with the entire US except for Alaska and Hawaii, and one for all 50 states plus Canada.

NOTE: Much of what follows is based on my hands on review of the nuvi 40, which has the same feature set, albeit with a smaller 4.3” screen

Key features

Generally speaking, all nuvis will get you from point A to point B; when you pay more, you’re primarily doing it to get bells and whistles. Nevertheless, the nuvi Essential series has some nice features. Here’s a look at several:

Speed limit display and warning

As noted above, the nuvi 50 includes speed limit display. In my testing of the Essentials series, I’ve seen speed limits not just on highways, but on many secondary roads as well.

Garmin nuvi 50 speed limit

And if you exceed the speed limit, the current speed field will turn red…

Garmin nuvi 50 speed warning

Lane Assist

The next turn icon in the top left corner highlights the proper lane to be in. You’ll primarily see this on freeways and on some surface streets in urban areas. Coverage is fairly extensive.

Garmin nuvi 50 lane assist

Junction View

The model I tested was a pre-production unit, and it did not have the Junction View .jcv file installed. Nevertheless, it is a listed feature for the Essential series, and should look something like this…

Garmin nuvi 50 nuvi essential jct view

Customizable data fields/display

If you tap the lower left data field, you can customize what is displayed there. Different choices are offered for whether you are or are not navigating.

Want more info displayed? Go to Settings > Map, press the down arrow icon and select Map Data Layout > More Data, to get the setup shown below, giving you two extra data fields. Tap a data field to change what is displayed.

Garmin nuvi 50 more data fields

Trip Log

The trip log allows you to display where you’ve been (which can be a big help navigating mega-mall parking lots, and even in everyday city driving). The trip log is the thin blue line shown below.

Garmin nuvi 50 trip log

There are options to Show or Hide this info, but unfortunately (unlike on other nuvis) there appears to be no way to clear the trip log short of a hard reset! Perhaps this is just an oversight that will be fixed in an upcoming firmware update; I’m certainly hoping Garmin hasn’t decided that privacy features should be limited to higher priced models!

Where am I?

Tapping the car/current location icon on the map brings up the Where Am I? screen, with the options shown below.

Garmin nuvi 50 where am i

What’s missing?

Not much. There is no multi-destination routing (although you can add a single via point to a route) or powered mount, two popular options. The latter means that you’ll need to attach the mini-USB lead for the power cord each time you use the unit. Also, unlike other recent low-end models, you cannot add a traffic receiver. Here is Garmin’s rationale for this:

The nuvi 30, 40, and 50 series devices are not compatible with any traffic receiver or traffic service. Although these devices come with a variety of popular features, other features such as traffic compatibility have been left off so that we can provide our customers with the option of more basic devices at much lower price points.

Garmin nuvi Essential series performance

I noticed no routing irregularities while using the Garmin nuvi Essential series, nor did I notice excessively long waits for satellite acquisition. Except for the missing bells and whistles, it performed as well as my other nuvis. I did have trouble getting it to go into USB mass storage mode when connecting to my computer, but this was solved by ensuring that the unit was on before connecting it. And this issue went away entirely once I updated to firmware version 2.10. The only other item of note is that I found the mount a little awkward to clip the nuvi into at first, but after awhile I got used to how it attaches and rarely had problems with it.

Garmin nuvi 50 pros

  • 5” screen
  • Low cost
  • Speed limit display
  • Lane assist and junction view
  • Customization options

Garmin nuvi 50 cons

  • No powered mount
  • Cannot add a traffic receiver
  • Can only hide Trip Log; cannot clear it without resorting to a hard reset
  • Only includes maps of 48 states (although a version that adds Alaska, Hawaii and Canada is also available)

Conclusion and recommendation

Highly recommended. This is without a doubt the best entry level navigator Garmin has ever released. It has an ultra-wide 5” screen along with features previously restricted to mid-range units. You can’t hardly go wrong with this one.

More Garmin nuvi 50 reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…

Other Garmin nuvi 50 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 50 at these merchants:

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Is this a better buy than the 1450 which seems to be discounted to this price as we head into the holidays?

    I have a 780, don’t use any features beyond navigation, and am looking for something that is less laggy finding routes and POI searches.

  2. Thanks, Rich.

  3. Does the Nuvi 50 (and Nuvi 40) have the exit services feature that lets you see pois organized by upcoming exit? (As seen on the nuvi 2555 here:

    • No, you’ll need a 2xx5 model for that. The lowest one is the 2455LT.

      • oh well. 🙂
        Interestingly, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the Garmin Streetpilot OnDemand app for the iphone, which costs $0.99 to purchase and then is $2.99/month, has this feature. Kind of funny that the $100+ units don’t have this, but the $0.99 app does!

        • Um, there are two version in the app store. The $0.99 version does continue to work after 30 days (albeit in a limited mode without the in-app purchase options), and for those of us who want a GPS app independent of internet connectivity there’s the $49.99 (currently anyway) downloadable StreetPilot app (also on the app store). The downloadable standalone versions (yes there are 2 of them, get the one with higher user reviews and latest updates) work for the flat purchase price, and they’re even software update-able via the standard app store process. I was going to get a higher end model, but for $50 bucks, I can save space, bring a massively useful GPS with me everywhere I go, and it’s f-a-s-t (Note: I use an iPhone 4, so YMMV if the hardware is an earlier model.) Cheers!

  4. I love your website and your reviews. I have a quick question I hope you can answer for me. If you could have the 1450lmt for $129 or the 50lm for $99 dollars, which would you pick? I guess I don’t really see any differences other then the traffic. I am not into the traffic that much especially since there are ads. The 50 doesn’t have a SD card slot correct? Is that important? I just want to know, which one is better.

    Thanks for your time,


    • Traffic is certainly the primary difference and it can’t be added later to the 50. The 50 does have a microSD slot, which can be useful when updating or adding maps. I don’t think there are any other significant differences, though the 1450T may have some customization options that the 50 doesn’t have; not sure about that though.

      • Thanks for your help. I stuck with my 1450lmt. I got the 50LM for my parents. My Walmart still has some left from black Friday for $99.

  5. Rich,
    On this new series, where is the Map Info or myMap screen!? I was on the phone with a customer for a half hour, looking at the manual, we could not find where to see if map on SD-card was loaded/enabled.
    You help is appreciated,
    – Doug

  6. Hey Rich,
    I´ve found website a great resource for all things gps, thanks for the comprehensive site.
    I own a nuvi 1350 which works amazingly well, but was wondering if there is any speed step up in this new series for browsing the map and choosing a new destination which has been a pain in the 1350. I guess mostly because of the processor speed and the resistive touchscreen. Will the 50 be any better? is the screen capacitive? or should I start looking into the 3760 series?

    • I didn’t notice any speed differences in map browsing or menu responsiveness. The newer models do seem to do address and POI searches faster than some older ones though. The 50 series is resistive; you’ll need to go to the 34xx or 37xx for capacitive. Hope that helps!

  7. Hi guys! I need help… I’ve to buy a new GPS, and I just use for navigation… No routes, no special adds..

    I’ve 760 but is too slow to get satellites, as well as to calculate…

    I’m between Nuvi 50 (newer) and Nuvi 3750 (beautiest)…

    Which one do you suggest?



  8. I see an area on my Garmin nuvi 50 that says ‘extras’ and notes that I have none. Can I buy extras? And what are they?

  9. Hi,

    Can I add android and iphone apps on this device?

  10. What is life time map updates? Why this model does not have that? Would I need map updates?

    • You get free lifetime map updates, released quarterly. This model doesn’t have it, but the 50LM does. Do you need it? Only if you want current maps. It’s more important in fast growing metros where roads are changing.

  11. PAUL VILLANI says:

    Just bought Nuvi 40 (Walmart-$100).
    It is OFTEN WRONG.
    Told me to go 1/2 miles more and U-turn when all I had to do is make a left at light and voila. I’m THERE!
    Street and light have been there 5 years!
    For Saint Lucie West Blvd it says; STREET Lucie west (cause St. Lucie looks like ST (street).
    Only had 2 days.
    TOSSED out my Nuvi 30 cause left side buttons WRONG letter came up when pressed near one (W came up for “S” every time or 2 instead of “W”) or zip, Nada, NOTHING would come up when press (HARD too) SEVERAL times.
    Garmin said: NO Problem Found so I wasted postage too.
    Then tossed!

    Think I’m DONE with Garmin. 3rd crappy unit.
    1st one would NOT work while charging/plugged in to car and would not HOLD a charge.
    My experiences- Garmin a waste of $.
    You think LM SOFTWARE any different, i.e. BETTER!?

    • Did you update the maps? All nuvis get a free map update if you do it in the first 90 days.

    • I concur with Paul. My Nuvi 50 bought in the UK has given me several false routes.

      The first directing me in the completely opposite direction to where I roughly I needed to go and despite re entering the information insisted on repeating the error.
      The recent one involved a journey of some 267 miles and the Nuvis decided I needed to take a different route outisde of Manchester and put me on the M1 instead of the M5 motorway. I had to drive 35 miles and lost two hours in busy traffic to recover my correct route. Switched the damn thing off and will print out an Autoroute sked in future as I used to.

      I wouldn’t even bother Garmin, they have my money and that’s what counts.

  12. does my nuvi 50 support micro sd card

  13. Jack Edwards says:

    Hallo Rich,
    I have recently bought a Nuvi 50 which helps with the readability having the wide screen. However I used to have a ‘cancel navigation’ button on the earlier model, ( a red X on the main screen) and this would cancel the current navigation track and return me to a fresh start screen.

    How do I do this without the magic button ?

  14. An irritating feature of the NUVI 50LM (and maybe others) is that State route numbers are not provided. Instead the local street names of every city / town the state route passes through are given. If I want to follow a specific route I would like to see the route number on the map and not Main St. for one town, and Broad St for the next town, and Maple St for the next, etc, etc. Does any GPS have this feature. Or, does any list both, such as Main St (State Rt 23).

  15. Same thing as Paul Villani said. I used the Garmin 50 and I programmed an address that was
    an avenue, but there is also the same address for a street. The Garmin told me to turn right which was a dead end street. No matter how many times I tried, it took me to the street instead of the avenue. I should have turned left and I would have been exactly where I needed to be. YES I did have the maps updated, these addresses have been there forever.

  16. Paul Villani says:

    Looked for CVS at 1300….st.
    Garmin said make left and “ARRIVED”. I was at a bank that was ALWAYS there and 1531…odd number address so wrong side of st!
    CVS across st. and 2 blocks further down!
    suggest do what I did. TOSSED OUT my 2nd and LAST Garmin. Garmin making “cheaper” units and its stock keeps going down. flr good reason!


  1. […] Garmin nuvi 50 review – GPS Tracklog – GPS reviews, … – Oct 05, 2011 · Garmin nuvi 50 review including comparisons to similar units, links to other reviews, price comparisons, owners manual, message forums and more… […]

  2. […] Garmin nuvi 50 review – GPS Tracklog – GPS reviews, … – Oct 05, 2011 · Garmin nuvi 50 review including comparisons to similar units, links to other reviews, price comparisons, owners manual, message forums and more… […]

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


6 × = forty eight