Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garmin nüvi 275T 3.5-Inch Bluetooth Portable GPS Navigator

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Product Description
Manufacturer's Description (August 26, 2008)
Garmin's nüvi 275T improves upon its 200-series predecessors by adding free real-time traffic updates from Navteq (for the life of the device) as well as Bluetooth connectivity to your cell phone. Other significant improvements in the 2x5 series include a predictive technology that provides faster satellite lock, a redesigned screen with more information, terrain maps, and an exciting new photo navigation feature. The 275T provides complete maps for North America as well as Europe and the handy Text-to-Speech feature, so you get turn-by-turn spoken directions with the real names of streets (e.g. "turn left in 50 feet at Nebraska Way", rather than merely "turn left in 50 feet").

The nüvi 2x5 models all sport the slim design that Garmin introduced with the 200-series last year, so they all fit comfortably in your pocket or purse, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that makes them convenient for navigation by car or foot. All of the models include useful travel tools like a JPEG picture viewer, world travel clock with time zones, currency converter, measurement converter, calculator and more.

Integrated Traffic Receiver
Steer clear of traffic with an integrated GTM 20 FM traffic receiver designed to receive alerts about traffic tie-ups and road construction that might lie ahead on your route. No subscriptions or additional hardware needed. Just open the box, turn it on, and get instant access to traffic information--the traffic updates are free for the life of the device.

All you have to do is simply touch the screen to view traffic details and you'll be ready to detour around any problem area. And if you end up missing a turn, or you're forced into a detour that is not relayed through the traffic receiver, the nüvi's sophisticated automatic routing will get you back on track in no time.

In most areas, the traffic broadcasts are continuous--there's no waiting for scheduled traffic news updates or random alerts. Because traffic broadcasts are received via a "silent" FM data channel, you can still listen to music or news programming on your car radio without interference from incoming FM traffic data transmissions.

Hands-Free Calling
In more and more places, it is becoming illegal to use cell phones while driving without a hands-free kit. WIth Bluetooth capability, microphone and speaker, you can match your nüvi to any Bluetooth-capable phone to make hands-free mobile phone calls. Simply dial the phone number with the nüvi's touch screen keypad to make a call on a compatible phone. To answer an incoming call, just tap the screen and speak into the built-in microphone. Making and taking calls on the road has never been easier, or safer. In addition, Garmin makes it a breeze to look-up and dial numbers from your personalized phone book or even tap into your cell phone's call history log.
Key Features/Benefits for all 2x5 Series Navigators

* New -- HotFix (Long Term Ephemeris Prediction) finds satellites faster (Learn more)
* New -- Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Basemap shows 3D shaded terrain features (Learn more)
* New -- Faster 333 Mhz processor offers faster, smoother map drawing and vehicle icon motion through turns
* New -- Redesigned user interface offers more information (Learn more)
* New -- Photo Navigation lets you upload geo-coded photos from a phone, geo-coding camera or photo site and navigate to them. (Learn more)
* New -- Add Enhanced MSN Traffic and Content with the optional GDB 55 antenna and charger (Learn more)
* New -- Send addresses directly to your Garmin from Google Maps or Mapquest (Learn more)
* New -- Automatic Time Zone Transition
* Text-to-Speech gives directions with real street names
* 3.5-inch Widescreen shows you more of what's around you as you drive (Learn more)
* Memory Card Slots so you can add maps and travel guides, or store photos (MicroSD card slot on 3.5-inch units; SD card slot on 4.3-inch units)
* Preloaded Maps with Navteq data of North America + Hawaii + Puerto Rico, including 6.5 million searchable points of interest (Learn more)
* Rechargeable lithium-ion battery for easy portability (up to 4 hours per charge)
* Custom Vehicle Icons let you personalize your navigator (Learn more)
* Integrated Antenna for a slim form factor
* Where Am I? -- instantly shows you all of the emergency services nearby.

I purchased this device a few weeks ago in anticipation of a trip to the UK. I've driven there before, navigating with the excellent AA road atlases, but being an American driving a right hand drive car with a manual transmission, sometimes in bad weather, I would often get task-saturated. I thought a GPS or "Sat Nav" as they call them, would make the job a little easier.
The only features that I really needed in a GPS unit were the U.S and European maps and text-to-speech, ("turn left on High street"), beyond that, additional whistles and bells didn't matter to me.
Initially I looked at both Garmin and TomTom and decided to go with Garmin since it was less expensive to find a unit that had North American and European maps. I paid about $270 for my 275T, it was the least expensive unit that had European maps pre-installed. Buying the European map separately would cost you approximately $150 and the UK-only map runs about $99.
The 275T operation is fairly straight forward. It has all of the normal features that one would expect to find on a modern GPS unit to include a fairly robust POI (Point Of Interest) database loaded with gas stations, restaurants, airports etc... The touch screen works well and although the size is smaller, (3.5" vs 4.3" on some larger units), it was more than adequate to display all of the necessary information. The voice directions are very helpful, especially when driving in heavy traffic. Traffic updates in the US arrive via an FM transmitter in the charger cord, (in Europe you have to plug in an antenna wire which comes with the unit). You can also easily preload lots of destinations to your "favorites" on the device by using the Google map or Panoramio photo websites.
In the UK the 275T proved to be invaluable; you feel much freer to stray from the beaten path and do a bit of exploring knowing that your GPS will always get you to your appointed destination. The time to destination estimates were accurate and the routes were efficient. When initially turned on, the unit located satellites quickly and never lost the connection except when in parking garages, or tunnels. Sometimes when surrounded by lots of tall buildings, like in downtown London, the unit would appear to get confused about the direction in which it was pointing. Moving the car just a few dozen feet or so normally corrected this. The included Europe maps were very accurate with the exception of a new stretch of highway between Falkirk and Edinburgh which was not included on the map database. Road names, one-way streets, and parking areas were all up to date. I found the inclusion of "safety camera" locations, (read: "speed trap cameras"), to be very helpful; it even flashed a red warning when you exceed the speed limit in an area with a camera.
The only feature that I sometimes wish was included was a compass heading. If you just turn on the unit, but don't program in a destination, your directional heading, (North, East etc...), is displayed in the lower right hand corner. However when it's giving you directions, your estimated time to arrival takes up that area of the screen. Overall however, I thought the unit was great and I would recommend the 275T if your travels take you between North America and Europe on occasion. Renting a GPS with your car in the UK will typically add about $15 per day; use your 275T for a couple weeks and it's practically paid for itself.
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