As far as navigation, the Garmin Nuvi 660 is equipped with a WAAS-enabled (Wide Area Augmentation System for better position accuracy) GPS receiver and comes preloaded with maps of North America. You get all the standard GPS features found in the latest systems, including turn-by-turn text- and voice-guided directions, automatic rerouting, and text-to-speech functionality, which allows the unit to speak actual street names. The system can generate directions by fastest time, shortest distance, or off road, if you're the adventurous type. The Nuvi 660 isn't just limited to use in the car, either; there are settings for pedestrian, bicycle, truck, and bus modes. Unfortunately, however, the system does not support multistop route calculation.
The Nuvi 660 has a detour function for avoiding certain portions of your prescribed route, but the system also now comes with an FM traffic receiver that's integrated into the cigarette lighter adapter, so you don't have to pay extra for an optional accessory. Traffic information is provided by Clear Channel's Total Traffic Network and can alert you to any upcoming congestion or road construction. With the purchase of the Garmin Nuvi 660, you get a complimentary three-month subscription to the service. After that, you'll have to pay $60 for three more months. Also, be sure to check that your city is covered by the network.
Maps are available in 2D and 3D view with day and night colors, and you can change your view so that either north or the direction in which you're driving is always at the top of your screen. Plus and minus icons on the map screen allow you to zoom in and out, and there's also a trip information page that displays your speed, direction, trip time, and so forth. Finally, the Nuvi 660 has a comprehensive POI database with all the major categories and more specific ones; you can even search for restaurants by type of cuisine.
Among of the greatest perks and differentiators about the Garmin Nuvi 660 are its travel features. Like the Nuvi 350, it has an onboard Travel Kit that includes an MP3 player, an Audible book player, a JPEG picture viewer with a slide-show function, a world clock, currency and measurement converters, and a calculator. You can expand the device's capabilities with one of Garmin's three optional software packages (available on SD cards): Language Guide ($74.99), Travel Guide (price varies depending on what region you want), and SaversGuide ($49.99). The former includes a multilingual word and phrase bank with support for nine languages and dialects and five bilingual dictionaries. Thanks to the Nuvi's text-to-speech functionality, you can also get a spoken pronunciation of each entry in the word bank. The Travel Guide provides reviews and recommendations for restaurants, attractions, and more, while the SaversGuide offers discounts at participating merchants.
We took the Garmin Nuvi 660 out for a test-drive in San Francisco, and it performed wonderfully. The unit impressed us by acquiring a satellite fix in less than a minute, and subsequent starts were much faster. The system precisely tracked our location as we drove around the city running routine errands. We also entered a specific destination, and the Nuvi 660 quickly returned with a route. The directions were accurate, and automatic route recalculation was also prompt after we got off track.
As we noted earlier, we were able to pair the unit with the Cingular 8525, and we had no problems making calls. The multimedia experience was as to be expected on a portable navigation device: it wasn't great, but it was fine for when you're in an absolute pinch. Music sounded OK through the system's speakers, though it was a bit muffled and soft; we plugged in a pair of Shure E3s, which improved the sound quality.