Weighing a mere nine ounces, the GPS V is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket and can be used in the car or in the great outdoors. On the face of the unit, eight rubberized function buttons make it easy to scroll through the various menus and pages with one hand, while a rocker pad allows you to enter search criteria via an onscreen keypad. We particularly like the crisp images displayed on the 160x256 screen and the ability to view maps in portrait and landscape modes. Not only can the GPS V store up to 500 waypoints and 50 routes, it also includes a fishing/hunting calculator, a built-in calendar, and a page for celestial information so that you can view sunrise and sunset times. It even has a gas mileage calculator for those long road trips.
The GPS V contains a base map of North and South America, which includes state- and city-mapping information as well as major roadways and other geographic data such as airports, lakes, and coastline maps. The base maps are routable, meaning you can use the Find command to locate a destination by address, highway exit, point of interest, or stored waypoint, and the GPS V will automatically plot a route from your current location to your selected destination.
Taking a cue from the , the GPS V also offers turn-by-turn onscreen directions, including beeps that alert drivers of upcoming turns. For street-level map details, the GPS V comes with a MapSource City Select CD-ROM, which you can use to download one of seven specific regions into memory. Unfortunately, you can unlock only one region and must pay an additional $116 for the rest of the country.
To test the device, we loaded four maps covering New York City, Long Island, and Jersey City, New Jersey, all of which ate up more than 18MB of the GPS V's 19MB of internal memory. Since the Garmin doesn't accept additional memory or data cards, you must delete existing map data before adding more maps--a minor flaw. We found the GPS V to be extremely accurate when pinpointing our location, thanks to its WAAS capabilities, a coordinate-correction method with positioning results that are typically accurate within 10 feet. The 12-channel receiver locked on to the necessary satellites within 10 seconds of start-up and managed to stay locked even in areas with dense trees and/or buildings.
The GPS V boasts 25 hours of battery life from four AA batteries (not included), and it did not disappoint, as we got close to 27 hours before running out of juice. In addition to a 12-volt adapter for vehicle use and a serial PC cable, the GPS V comes with a cool, multiple-angle mounting bracket that can be affixed to the dashboard of any car or boat.
Despite Garmin's insistence on charging for additional maps and the device's inability to add more memory for additional map storage, the GPS V is well worth the money ($535) for an all-around driving and outdoor navigation companion.