Gadget Review: Garmin Nuvi 265T GPS


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.


  • 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


  • 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


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11 Comments to Gadget Review: Garmin Nuvi 265T GPS

  1. Ron S

    I’m about to buy my first gps, and doing much research. Garmin seems to be the one but money is somewhat an issue. I only need it to get me from point a to point b. I do not need all the bells and add ons.
    Reading all of your comments and experiences have me somewhere on the fence. I was interested in the 265T model, but now it looks like I may have to move up in price. If I do that I get the other things added I believe I do not need or will use. I may not use it much in the first 30 days, and than the warranty runs out for return I believe.
    Can anyone give me further advice, and strong recomendations. Some have tried to move me to look into the TOM-TOM models but I would think I might have the wame problems.
    Need to put out more money to get very good to good results.
    Can a gps be ever rented, like other things do. Maybe thats my answer, huh.
    Thanks for any info.

  2. John Scott

    Brian – re: poor satellite reception when conditions are cloudy – this suggests the receiver is faulty (but I’m not an expert!). Here in the UK we have lots of cloudy days – I have a Nuvi 205 and always get a signal. A few weeks ago I had to drive in torrential rain and low cloud – but this didn’t cause a problem for the Sat Nav.

  3. Brian Struve

    Wasn’t impressed with satellite reception. At 30000 Ft and clouds above us, couldn’t get signal. Even on the ground in a car or house with cloud cover I can’t get signal. Is this normal for all GPS devices or is it they down sized antenna to pack more features in?

  4. Gary Egerton

    I bought a Garmin 265T because it had Bluetooth and traffic which was a bonus. However I was very disappointed with the device. The volume as mentioned above was an issue and when turned to 100% the distortion of the sound was very noticeable. This became terrible when taking mobile phone calls on the move. I put it down to a faulty unit and changed it for a new one. Howver same deal and some other software issues too. Have now gone for the Gamin 760 and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. On the plus side for Garmin I have to say the mapping is first class but if they have reduced the quality of the speaker to keep the cost down on the 265T I think they have made a big mistake and can expect to have a lot of returns due to it. Come on Garmin, don’t fall in to that trap!

  5. Craig H.

    I purchase the Garmin 200 before Christmas and received the Garmin 265t as a gift. The non-Bluetooth volume level on the Garmin 265t is noticibly less than the Garmin 200. (i.e. 80%volume for 265t is much lower than 60% on the 200.) Has anyone else detected this volume level issue? I am wondering if my unit is defective.

  6. Jeff

    Gotta tell you I got this for my 73 year old mother with the intent of her just having to push the “go Home” button. Well suprise suprise, she is doing all kinds of things and able to go places she has never had the nerve to go to. Normally she gets lost when anything out of the ordinary happens. I would occaisionally get calls asking me do you know where I am. Now, have not had any of those.
    Thank you Garmin….

  7. Hi Holly,

    The bluetooth sound is pretty clear as long as you have a quiet interior. But if it gets noisy it’ll be a bit hard to hear, although cranking up the volume will help somewhat.

    The person on the other side had no trouble hearing my voice.

  8. Holly

    Could you tell me how the bluetooth sound quality was?

  9. Annie

    That was a great review, thanks.

  10. Hey Michael, I’ll have to look into that, thanks for the tip. Just to let you know the tiny ads are rather unobtrusive. In fact, they’re disabled when the gps is navigating to a destination.

  11. Michael

    I was troubled reading about the pop up ads. I called Garmin and they said you can pay $60 and get the Lifetime Traffic ad free. You may want to check that out and confirm that. I haven”t bought the unit yet, but I plan to.

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