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Garmin Nuvi 550 Gps

Reviewing: Garmin Nuvi 550 Waterproof, Portable Gps  |  Rating:
lexxia By lexxia on
Badge: Advisor | Level: 20 | Mobile Expertise:

The Garmin GPS is a great little device for such things as the clear easy to read touch display screen and this particular model is great for the avid traveler even if they are using it on something like an ATV, motorbike or even ski doo. The unit is waterproof which helps a great deal when you are on one of these machines in the event you are hit by a sudden rain shower or snow storm. It comes with pre loaded maps and can be used in North America to find your way to numerous destinations, points of interest and even to the local beer/liquor stores or shopping centers!

The voice prompt system comes with sound level adjustment so that you can hear the directions clearly or mute the system if you don't want to continually hear it 'recalculating' it's directions as it navigates. You can also add an additional memory card which fits into the built in SD slot if you have certain maps or images that you want to associate with various areas that you travel to. You can also use it to play music which is a good little feature particularly if you decide you just want to take your bike out somewhere for nothing more than tunes to go with you. It comes with a lithium battery that lasts for several hours once charged but also provides a window mount suction connection and lighter adapter so that you can save on battery power and use the power from the vehicles lighter to run it. Getting the Garmin on and off the window mount proved a little annoying at first but once you get the knack of how the switch loosens the unit enough to remove it from it's holder, putting it away in the glove compartment while out of the vehicle, was a quick maneuver.

There are a few features that can be added to the Garmin for those who want to include things like time zones, additional points of interest etc. and it also has a 'Where Am I' feature in the event you get lost and need to know what the nearest cross road is to where you are located. It also provides you with info such as longitude and latitude for those who are really up on their location information skills...of which I am not one. You can also have it programmed to provide you with a currency exchange program which can come in very handy if you are in another country other than your one of origin or even if you aren't and simply need to convert Dollars to pounds, pounds to yen or Euro to Canadian...whatever you need.

Personally however, I'd not purchase this particular unit. Had I actually not known where I was going during the several times I actually used this device, I might very well still be wandering around lost. I have to give it credit though that it was even able to determine where on the earth it actual was given that we were very close to one of the more remote parts of the province of Ontario which borders along a Conservation woodland area. So points and kudos to the system in that respect. The first trip which was very straight forward, had the Garmin instructing me to turn to the left at the end of the cottage road, simply because the unit was attempting, despite having been programmed otherwise, to lead me to the little town we were headed to by taking me miles from the location in a very round about routing that according to it, was the most direct and best traveled one.

I chose to ignore it's continued 'turn left, turn left' instructions and turned right at the end of the roadway. It then began to recalibrate and try to choose the next best route for me to follow. Only a few hundred feet into the journey the Garmin was telling me that I needed to turn right onto a particular road that I knew was incorrect but my sister in law claimed that the little Garmin was giving us the accurate directions and so turn I did even though it was against my better judgement.

As the road grew narrower the further we traveled on it I began to question the Garmin's intelligence and decided that it was time to turn around and follow the little GPS I carried in my brain instead. Even I knew that the route we were going wasn't going to get us anywhere near our destination although I imagine had I decided to continue, there may have actually been a road somewhere that would eventually jog me in the correct direction. Eventually. Had I not actually gotten quick instructions from my husband before we left, I'd probably not have questioned the Garmin's attempts to take us who knows where but after turning around, which in itself was a bit of a challenge by that time, I let the Garmin recalibrate and then I chose to ignore it. I'm certain the poor little 'voice' inside it was getting mighty tired of telling the dumb driver to turn on roads that I was blatantly ignoring to do.

We made it to our destination with no further detours and I ignored it on the return journey as well. The following evening when we decided to head into a nearby city, we took the Garmin again but again the directions it gave once we were within the city made me really wonder why on earth anyone would follow anything it had to say to the letter. The possibility that the person who programmed the Garmin for these trips might be an understandable question...did they know what they were doing? The answer would be an emphatic yes! The fellow who programmed our destinations was raised in the area in which we were and it's likely that dumping him in the thick of the wilderness at any point would have not posed any problem for him knowing exactly where he was and where he had to go to get back to the Cottage, so user error wasn't part of the problem in this case.

I didn't find this unit all that helpful or beneficial and in all honesty, I found it rather annoying as it announced the number of yardage left to turn, as it recalibrated frequently and announced names of cross roads and side streets that it was coming up to and wanting me to turn onto and that in some cases would have me going in circles for a bit.

I found after using similar systems such as the TomTom that the Garmin wouldn't be my personal choice for a GPS system when I decide to purchase one for my car. Too bad though as I did like the larger screen compared to the Tom Tom I'd used previously. Programming the Garmin for a return trip is a simple matter of pushing the 'Where to go' prompt and following the onscreen instructions...in our case it was just a matter of pressing 'Cottage'.

At almost $500 for this particular unit, I'd expect it to at least be able to get me to a well populated location in an area that has been established for some time but during a trip to my daughter's place a few weeks ago the poor Garmin couldn't even locate the address we were headed to even though it's a well known street and appears on most if not every map that I've seen and when we were still miles away from it, it insisted we had reached our destination. We were sitting no where near the location but instead we were roughly 3k's from where we actually needed to be. At the time a solution would have been to put in another side street other than the one we were trying to reach and hope that we would get near enough to at least be able to recognize the area we were in. Instead I used my cell, called my daughter, told her were I was and she guided me the rest of the way. I think I'll be looking at a Tom Tom instead. I've had much better luck with them.