Pros Tiny form factor, intuitive interface, responsive satellite tracking, gorgeous bright wide screen display, includes integrated FM traffic receiver, excellent Bluetooth integration
Cons Tinny speakers, lackluster battery life, **expensive**,
Summary HINT: Thieves LOVE this. Be sure to remove it from your window (inluding the suction mount) and take it with you or hide it in your vehicle when parked. I've had TWO Garmin Nuvi units stolen from my car this year.
Based on what is out there, this is the ROLLS ROYCE of portable GPS units, with a price tag to match. That being said, don't pay more than $750 for it new, anywhere. Many places on the web, including eBay, sell this item new for that price often with free shipping.
I've owned the Garmin Nuvi 350, and had it stolen twice. It was my favorite gadget of all time, hands down. When Garmin announced the upcoming widescreen Nuvi 660 with integrated Bluetooth, FM transmitter, and included FM traffic reciver, I ordered one. I have not regretted it. The overall appearance, design, form factor, and usability of this device is only rivaled by Apple's iPod, in my opinion.
To be blunt, I prefer the smaller form factor of the Nuvi 350 and 360 units. The 660 is a widescreen unit and is slightly thicker as well, which goes against the industry-leadnig portability established by its predecessors. However, the screen seems to have been revamped and is VERY bright and easy to see. As a matter of fact, it handles direct sunlight without washing out any of the display. At night, I keep it at only 20% brightness. This makes it less visible in my peripheral vision as I am driving, as well as saving the short battery life. So far the unit averages about three hours of battery life after a full charge, with the WAAS/Egnos feature turned off and the display dimmed somewhat to conserve on power.
The user interface is the best out there: simple, robust, and responsive. The mapping is excellent, and the Google Map-style drawings are both beautiful and functional. It powers up and very quickly picks up the GPS satellites. You can load your custom points of interest as well. One of the neatest features I have seen is that it will display your Bluetooth-enabled phone's contacts right on the Nuvi display screen as if you were looking at your own phone.
As far as durability and quality, there are no concerns. Garmin makes excellent, well-tested products and the Nuvi is no exception. I've dropped my device several times already without any damage to it.
BOTTOM LINE: Very highly recommended.
HINT: If you want to avoid highways, you can go into the Navigation options under "avoidances" and tell the unit to avoid major highways. I do wish that Garmin would make this option easier to set instead of having it embedded in three levels of menus, but at least it has it.
Pros Beautiful, high-res display. Easy to use interface. Great menu system for finding POIs.
Cons Flimsy case. Lousy speaker. Pointless Mp3 player. POI database is at least 3 years behind even after recent update. Very few navigation preference options.
Summary I was given a TomTom One for Christmas and I thought I loved it. Navigation was clear and direct. However, I quickly discovered that it lacked a database for common stores such as Wal-mart or Best Buy. I could find the shopping center they were in but of course that would be useless if you're visiting a new area you're unfamiliar with and just wanted to find the nearest Wal-Mart. So, I decided to "upgrade" to the "latest" and "greatest" which is what the Nuvi 660 was supposed to be.
I went into its POI menu and found that restaurants, shops, gas stations, and even golf courses, were all organized into very well designed menus and submenus; something the TomTom was lacking. Everything looked great until I discovered that any store built as recently as 3 years ago wasn't to be found. This, mind you, is after a very recent update. You can load custom POI's in but it's a VERY cumbersome process that only very computer savy folks could do. Consumers beware: There is no way to update your POI database. You must wait for the updates that come out only once a year or every two years for $150+.
In addition, you have very few options for navigation preferences. The TomTom seemed much more intelligent in chosing routes. For instance, I live in Hayward, CA. My parents live in Sacramento. When I go up to visit, the Garmin wants me to take I-680 because it's slightly faster by maybe 15 minutes overall. I hate going through 680 because of traffic and so I take 80 all the way. When I'm driving though, and pass the turnoff to go to 680, the Garmin recalculates and tries to take me off onto sideroads for the next 9 exits so I can backtrack and get back to 680. With the TomTom, it simply recalculates and has me continue on 80 because that's the next logical route.
In short, the TomTom wasn't the complete package and neither was the Garmin. They both have major drawbacks, and when you're spending more than $500 (or $899 in the case of the Garmin) you should expect it to be full featured. Especially when these are the only products your company makes. So, as for me, I took mine back. I expect these companies to make a more well thought out product before I spend the loads of money their asking.
Pros Small size, bluetooth, FM traffic alerts, FM transmitter, large screen size, battery powered
Cons No remote, FM transmitter is unusable for me with antennae in front on my 2006 Tacoma, limited Bluetooth, built in speaker strained at full volume
Summary I wanted to make this GPS work so bad. I have been using Garmin for a long time now and was between the 2820 and the Uvi 660. Due to the size and the built ins I went for the Nuvi 660. Sams Club was having a sale on them and I could not resist.
So I bring home my new 660 and charge it up. I then try to turn it on and it locks up. So I call Garmin, which has the best customer service, and they told me to take it back and get an exchange. This stuff happens so I went back and got a new one.
This one started up thank goodness but I was unable to find a FM channel to use so I can have handsfree over the radio. Even then I was OK, the 2820 can't go through the radio either so there is no reason to get that one instead. I use my cell phone a lot so I was looking forward to the handsfree feature. The problem is that the speaker is a little weak and I had complaints from people I was talking to about noise and them hearing themselves talk. Then I found out that you can't use a bluetooth earpiece with this system but you can on the 2820.
Since I drive a lot I use my GPS more than most people. When you frive that often you find that there are certain roads or areas that you NEVER want to drive on and avoid forever. The 2820 and the 2720 allow you to make cutom avoidances so the GPS always makes your route around that area. For example, I live in Houston, and if I wanted to go to North Houston the GPA will take me through the center of Downtown Houston to get there. If you do that you will wan to drive your vehicle off a bridge after sitting through that nightmare of a route. I would rather take one of the loops that goes around instead. With my 2720 it would avoid that area and just route me around it without me having to detour every time.
The other thing is the lack of remote. The remotes come in so handy when driving. If you haven't used a remote you don't know what you are missing. Volume control is easier and bluetooth functions are easier.
Another feature lacking is the categories under "favorites" This way you can have diferent categories for finding fanorites easier, like: restaurants, work, personal, vacation, etc
For this price of unit it should have better if not as good of options as the same priced 2820. I do like the battery powered function and how small the unit is but those pluses don't make up for all the minuses!!!!
I returned mine yesterday and now have a 2820 on order. The 660 is sexy but it is more of an entry level unit at a upper end price level.
"My friends are all trading in their own GPS units for this one after seeing mine in action."on by the2600
Pros Great unit, compact, user-friendly, useful outside of the car, good screen.
Cons It's expensive.
Summary After having tried the Magellan 3050T, I returned it for this model. My primary reason for returning the Magellan was because of a design flaw with the buttons (as I documented in another review), however once I discovered the importance of ‘size’, I wouldn’t purchase another GPS larger than the Nuvi 660. After having experienced the joys of riding with me and seeing how small this unit is in the dash or window compared to their bulkier models, several of my friends have resorted to selling their own units to purchase either a 660 or the even smaller 350 or 360 models. I think the greatest rating of all a product could receive is when all your friends start trading in their own models for yours after seeing it in action. I would have preferred the size of the 360, but I have large fingers and was worried about trying to press the tinier interface screen buttons on the smaller model.
The 660 is extremely easy to use, has a perfect screen, and catches the satellites in seconds after turn on. The voice commands are a bit robotic, but it uses text to speech conversion (announces street names on guidance instead of feet/miles), so I doubt at this point there is anything better on the market. I tried a GPS that did not use the text to speech conversion, and was occasionally missing turns when two turn offs were so close together that the GPS announcement was worthless. This isn’t an issue with the 660 because the street names are announced.
I haven’t had a great deal of luck with the FM transmitter, but I believe this is because I have a rear mount antenna on my car. I’ve read other reviews that the FM transmitter wasn’t worth using, and yet other reviews that claim perfect reception. I think it is an issue of antenna proximity and the availability of clear frequencies.
The 660 comes with both a 110 adapter and a 12V vehicle adapter, however the 12V vehicle power adapter does not plug directly into the unit, but rather the suction cup vehicle mount. The mount has a small power interface connector that links to the 660 when the unit is placed into the mount. This might be ideal for certain situations, such as when the power and mount are permanently affixed in the vehicle, but I find it to be a bit of a nuisance because I have to stick the GPS in the mount even when I am just trying to charge it on the passenger seat. It’s a very small issue. I wouldn’t image leaving the mount in view even if the 660 was not in the car, because thieves could assume a gps unit is hidden in the glove compartment or under the seat when noticing the mount, and might break your window to find out.
Battery life could be a little better, but 3 hours is fair considering it charges quickly, and comes with a 110 adapter for use at home. One thing I really like about the unit is that the GPS automatically turns off when the antenna is folded back, so you can play with the unit (add addresses, browse maps, etc) while at home. I’ve tried other models that wouldn’t quit prompting for gps coverage, which made them useless for indoor use. The Points of Interest menu is very comprehensive, and includes phone numbers with addresses. While traveling, twice now I have chosen to search “closest”, and “Pizza”, to grab a phone number to the closest pizza delivery guys from my hotel room, which makes the 660 a bit of a virtual yellow pages as well. I think Garmin hit it on the mark by calling this a travel assistant, because it is small enough to take with you while walking or riding public transportation, and this model fits comfortably in a jacket pocket. I’ve been able to use it to find bus routes and predict the closest stops in unfamiliar areas to tourist spots while on vacation.
You can purchase this unit for $750.00 or less as of 17Oct06 at several online vendors. You pay for quality, but this one has it.
Pros NIce layout, great size and screen
Cons Why only A-Z keyboard -- not on any computer or smartphone
Summary This is a really nice unit but how can anyone in this "modern" age not provide an interface that is inline with what is the standard for data entry - a QWERTY keyboard. Tomtom does in all its models. It offers you a choice of A-Z, QWERTY or AZERTY in the preferences menu. I am sure there is not one employee of GARMIN that has an A-Z keyboard, at their computer or on their smartphone, so how could they make such a grave error in judgement. If your out in the field holding the nuvi in your hands thumbing is the most common method for entry like on your Blackberry, Treo or smartphone. Using an A-Z keyboard is a tedious non-intuitive task. It is as though Garmin had no idea who the end user was going to be. The solution to this problem is to have the software team code in these other keyboard choices in the preferences section and provide it in a downloadable software patch. As this is only a virtual keypad on the screen anything can be accomplished with software. Seemless evolution of a product is vital to its utility and success.Updated
Garmin Tech Support says Garmin are now reviewing the inclusion of the QWERTY keybord into the Nuvi. Email them at this address firstname.lastname@example.org. They thought most data entry was in the hunt and peck style and didn't really didn't realize that their primary user base already QWERTY literate.