Over the years, technology has increased the pace of society by allowing us to do more in less time. Want to buy a book? Click, download, and there you have it, instant e-book. How about a pizza with your choice of special toppings? Login to a website, make your selection, and get it piping hot to your door in 30 minutes or less. Or maybe you’re bored and want to find the quickest route to a pizzeria somewhere in Nebraska? Turn on your handy Garmin 265T GPS, punch in the info, and drive a few hundred miles to the tune of “You missed the turn, moron. Recalculating.” Perhaps the GPS won’t put it in quite those terms, but however the Garmin puts it, their latest unit guides you to your destination in the most convenient way possible. Let’s take a look at how it performs on the road.

Key features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 3.8″W x 2.8″H x 0.8″D
  • QVGA 320×240 pixel 3.5″ color TFT anti-glare screen
  • 4 hour lithium rechargeable battery
  • MicroSD slot
  • Pre-loaded maps including North America, Hawaii and Puerto Rico
  • Hotfix satellite prediction for faster satellite detection
  • Digital Elevation Model revealing 3-D terrain
  • Photo Navigation allowing navigation to geo-coded photos
  • Enhanced MSN Traffic/content using optional antenna and charger
  • Send addresses directly to Garmin from Mapquest or Google maps (while connected to PC)
  • Mini USB connection to PC
  • Car power adapter and suction mount included
  • Free lifetime traffic reports supported by ads
  • 6.5 million pre-installed points of interest (POIs) + ability to add your own
  • Bluetooth phone connectivity
  • Pedestrian mode
  • Garmin Garage (pick a custom vehicle icon)
  • Driving statistics including max speed, average speed, stop time, and more
  • Travel tools including a world clock, calculator, currency converter, and photo viewer
  • A multitude of spoken languages including English (US, British, Australian accents), Italian, German, French, Korean, Japanese, and more

So how did this GPS fare on the road? Keep in mind that I’ve been testing this on the extremely busy, sometimes one-way streets of Los Angeles so it’s been through quite a lot. The first thing you notice is the quick signal pickup thanks to the HotFix™ satellite prediction technology. Once the “Ready to Navigate” prompt appears, you can type in a specific address, look for the nearest attraction, or go to any point on the map. The Garmin then guides you to the destination based on your specified settings (quickest, shortest route, avoid highways, etc) and does it using clear text-to-speech street pronunciations and smart visual cues. If there’s any traffic on the route, the traffic notification icon turns red and provides the option to avoid it.

During my testing, the GPS guided me to most of my destinations without incident. Of course it didn’t know all the time-saving shortcuts, such as the infrequently used side streets, but it got me there nonetheless. The only problem occurred near the signal-blocking high-rise buildings of downtown Los Angeles, where it pretty much went haywire and sent me on a one way trip through a brick wall. But one must forgive the unit as it’s more of a limitation with satellite signals needing a line of sight.

The traffic function works well when it’s available. Again, this is more the fault of FM traffic reports not being available in some areas. One thing to note is that the free lifetime traffic is supported by ads. Once in a while, and only when you’re not navigating, you’ll see a small, unobtrusive banner hovering over the map. In my travels, a Ramada popup beckoned me to their nearest hotel. A bit curious, I clicked on the banner and the GPS listed the closest available locations. Now, I’m not crazy about ads, but hey, if it means free traffic service, count me in.

Let’s move on to the interface. On the main screen you have two options, “Where to?” and “View map”, which are pretty much self explanatory. It also shows you the time, battery level, signal strength, bluetooth indicator, and volume and tools button. To test the ease of use, I employed the ultimate test: the wife stress indicator. This involves handing the GPS over to my non-techy wife without saying anything other than, “Here you go, try it.” Well, I’m happy to report that it passed with flying colors as she was able to navigate easily without any instruction. The only minor gripe is that the touchscreen keyboard is not in the standard QWERTY format. Other than that, the interface is intuitive, responsive, and well laid out.

The Garmin 265T is simplicity in your motion: it’s designed to get you there using the latest in navigation technology, without the complication of too many features. With its built in, no-cost traffic detection and intuitive interface, the newest Garmin becomes an invaluable companion to any road traveler.

Pros:

  • Picks up satellites quickly
  • Intuitive, easy to use interface
  • Fast 333Mhz processor
  • 3-D terrain information
  • A host of spoken languages
  • Compact, easy to read screen (widescreen also available)
  • Useful travel tools such as world clock and currency converter
  • Free traffic with unobtrusive ads

Cons:

  • The fact that it even has ads might bother some
  • No extras such as a video/audio player, voice control, etc (a con if you expected a GPS with multimedia features)
  • Goes haywire in areas with high buildings (as with most GPS units)
  • Non-QWERTY keyboard

The Garmin 265T GPS is available here for $240



albert