Garmin nuvi 260W Automotive Mountable GPS Receiver
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Garmin nuvi 260W Automotive Mountable GPS Receiver

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  • User Interface: Touch Screen
  • System Type: Portable Fixed
  • Number of Channels: 12 Channels
  • : Automotive Mountable
  • Map Capabilities: Download maps Internal Map cartridges / Data cards
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texas-swede
1241

Nuvi 260W GPS; an older model similar to the Nuvi 255W GPS

Pros Intuitive interface, easy to navigate, points of interest, clear screen.
Cons No “Go Home”, no “ecoRoute”, looses satellite too often, Microsoft Streets and Trips feature problematic.
Recommended it? Yes
The Bottom Line: 

If you can loose a few features this older GPS is almost as good as the Nüvi 255W GPS.

I am not a big fan of GPS devices because I am pretty good with directions and I also like to have the entire route planned out beforehand. On the other hand, I have found that the Garmin GPS devices are still useful for many tasks which I had not considered before I bought my first GPS device about six-seven months ago. Therefore I still find GPS devices useful even though not essential. My wife is not as skilled with directions as I am so she appreciates GPS devices more than I do. She does have an old GPS device pre installed in her Toyota but it is a pretty bad one (not a Garmin).

About six months ago I bought a Nüvi 255W GPS device that I was planning to give to my wife after I had tried it out and set it up with her most common destinations. However, I found the device quite useful to me as well so I kept it and bought a second Nüvi 255W GPS for my wife. About one or two months after I bought the two Nüvi 255W GPS devices I found another Garmin GPS device hiding in a bag inside a closet. It turned out this GPS device, a Garmin Nüvi 260W GPS had been sitting in the closet for two and a half years. Since you can't return something you bought two and a half year ago we decided to keep it and use it.

The Nüvi 260W GPS is an older model than the Nüvi 255W GPS device and it does not have as many features. However, it is otherwise very similar to the Nüvi 255W GPS device and almost as good. Now we have one GPS device in each car and we use one GPS device when we travel. When we travel we enter our destinations at home before we leave and then it is ready to go when we get to our destination and the rental car.


What are Garmin GPS devices useful for?

Beyond the obvious, directions, GPS devices are useful in a number of other ways. The Garmin GPS devices I have bought include a "points of interest" feature which you can use at any time. If you want to take a break from driving and eat, fill gas, sleep at a hotel, or visit an attraction you just look up nearby restaurants, gas stations, hotels, ATM machines, or tourist attractions and then you press "Go" to let your Garmin to take you there. In fact I have found to be quicker to lookup points of interest at your final destination using the Garmin GPS at home before you leave in comparison to looking up the points of interests using internet. The GPS device may also tell you your arrival time, the current speed limit (if it has these features), and your speed which is useful if you want to avoid tickets. In addition if you get lost (it sometimes happens), or you need to find a detour due to traffic, or other problems, you can use the GPS to quickly get back on track. That is much more difficult to do if all you have are directions, a map, or a computer.

I have found that the Garmin GPS devices work very well almost everywhere except in Manhattan in New York. They work in the Texas cities I've been and anywhere out on the country side. The problem with Manhattan (and perhaps Chicago and other large cities) is an effect called the urban canyon effect (look it up).


What's included with the Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS Receiver

The Garmin Nüvi 260W GPS came with the same equipment in the box as the Garmin Nüvi 255W GPS. In the box there is a suction cup mount and a cradle. You can place the suction cup on your windshield. However, I have found that the Garmin friction bags are a lot more convenient, but you have to buy those separately. The suction cups have a tendency to fall off in the Texas heat. The box also comes with a plug and a vehicle power cable which insert into the power outlet in the car (the cigarette lighter). When you do that the first time the device turns on.


The Operation of the Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS Receiver

Just like the Nüvi 255W GPS the Nüvi 260W GPS features a touch screen and just like with the Nüvi 255W GPS you switch between two main screens, the map and the main menu screen. The main menu screen has a few nice looking buttons that you use to navigate to more specific screens. One of the buttons is "View map" which takes you to the map. To go back to the main menu screen from the map you press a blue button at the bottom of the screen that says "menu".

On the main menu screen there is also a big nice looking button that you use to select a destination "Where to?" as well as a Volume control and a "Tools" button. All screens that are shown when you press these other buttons will have a big "Back" button that you use to navigate back up to the main menu screen.

If you press "Where To?" you are taken to a screen which displays nine features as buttons inscribed in rectangles (there are no rectangles on the Nüvi 255W GPS). The nibe features are "Address", "Points of Interest", "Recently Found", "Favorites", "Extras", "Intersections", "Cities", Browse Map", and "Coordinates". The "Go Home" button on the Nüvi 255W GPS device does not exist on the Nüvi 260W GPS, however, you can put your home address on the "Favorites" list. The "Points of Interest" button will open lists of points of interest including "Food", "Fuel", "Transit", "Lodging", "Shopping", "Bank/ATM", "Parking", "Entertainment", "Recreation", "Attractions", "Hospitals", "Community", "Auto Services", etc. You can also type in your point of interest. When you click the "Tools" button you have seven options (on the Nüvi 255W GPS it is nine) "Settings", "Help", "Picture Viewer", Calculator", "Currency Converter", "Unit Converter", and "World Clock". What is missing is "ecoRoute" and "Where am I". The ecoRoute feature on the Nüvi 255W GPS will be sorely missed by the green user of the Nüvi 260W GPS device (it allows the device to take the most eco friendly route). Other features that are missing on the Nüvi 260W GPS device in comparison to the Nüvi 255W GPS device are the stop (the operation) button and the detour feature.
 
The map displays a map (3D is the default mode) of nearby streets and the street that you are on. It also displays the names of selected nearby streets, and your speed, time, and there is a small "+" button and a "-" button for zooming in and out. A cheerful female voice will also tell you every now and then what to do.

Navigating up and down the menus is quite straight forward and intuitive. Every feature and every settings and configuration and all documentation is accessible via quite visible buttons which you instantly will understand how to use.

One thing I had hoped that the Nüvi 255W GPS and the Nüvi 260W GPS device would do for me as opposed to another cheap GPS devices is that it was supposedly compatible with Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010. Using Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010 you can plan your own routes exactly the way you want them and then download them to the GPS device. You can also get free updates and add points of interest that the GPS device may be missing. Unfortunately, I could not get this to work. For this to work you need a driver that does not install with Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010. With difficulty you can find on-line instructions for how to do this, however, I was unable to complete the task because the driver would not install properly despite the fact that I followed all instructions and all trouble shooting instructions. Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010 wanted $35 for any customer support so I decided to forget about it. So don't get any of the devices for this reason.


The Map Quality of the Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS Receiver

The map of the Nüvi 260W GPS is quite primitive but easy to read. It is identical to the map of the Nüvi 255W GPS. What is missing from the map as compared to the Nüvi 255W GPS is the speed limit indicator, time of arrival, and the time to the next turn. I miss the speed limit indicator since this feature can prevent me from getting ticket. I don't always know the speed limit of the road I am driving on. However, it also makes the map slightly less busy than the map screen on the Nüvi 255W GPS.


The Sound of the Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS Receiver

The sound on my Nüvi 260W GPS device is not very good. It is tinny and scratchy. However, this could be because it has been sitting in a closet for two and a half years so I am going assume that it was not manufactured that way. However, the voice is different from the voice of the Nüvi 255W GPS. It is more varied and cheerful than on the Nüvi 255W GPS device. However, this is not necessarily a good thing because it becomes annoying after a while. The almost monotonous but smooth and matter of fact voice of the Nüvi 255W GPS is more restful.


The Garmin 260W versus 255W experiment

I have already pointed out a few differences between the Nüvi 260W GPS and the Nüvi 255W GPS. Those differences were mainly various missing features of the Nüvi 260W GPS as compared to the Nüvi 255W GPS.

However, there are also other differences. The Keyboard buttons on the Nüvi 260W GPS are larger, the frame around the touch screen is silver on the Nüvi 260W GPS but black on the Nüvi 255W GPS (they are otherwise identical in size, shape, color, and input). As mentioned the voice is also different.

To find out more about the differences between the two GPS devices, I performed an experiment. I drove to a few destinations with GPS devices on at the same time. Both GPS devices gave me exactly the same route except on one occasion (255W's was better). The voices spoke mostly at the same time and said the same thing but with a different tone of voice. Having two female voices telling you what to do at the same time, or one after the other, was also an interesting experiment of nagging. The maps moved and turned in an identical way and the resolution seemed to be the same at about 10-100 feet accuracy. However, the Nüvi 260W GPS lost satellite connection on a number of occasions while the Nüvi 255W GPS did not.

So in summary these are the differences between the Nüvi 260W GPS and the Nüvi 255W GPS.

- The Nüvi 260W GPS does not have the "Go Home" feature.

- The Nüvi 260W GPS does not have the "Where Am I" feature.

- The Nüvi 260W GPS does not have the "ecoRoute" feature.

- The Nüvi 260W GPS does not have the "My Data" feature.

- The Nüvi 260W GPS does not show current speed limit.

- The voice on the Nüvi 260W GPS is more cheerful but could also be less pleasant.

- The Nüvi 260W GPS looses satellite a lot more often.


Summary of opinions and thoughts

The Nüvi 260W GPS is slightly less capable than the Nüvi 255W GPS but they are otherwise nearly identical. If you can save more than $50 on a Nüvi 260W GPS it might be worth getting it instead of the Nüvi 255W GPS. Well that is unless you are a lead foot, or really need the ecoRoute feature, or want a softer female voice.



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