Monday, December 31, 2007

Garmin Nuvi 680


For a little while, I have been looking for a GPS unit for my car.  I didn't want to buy a new stereo, so I was mainly interested in a portable unit.  I also was interested in one that had traffic information available, as our current one in our van doesn't, and it doesn't help when the route takes you through a traffic jam.



I settled on the Garmin Nuvi 680 because it has some key features:



  • Handsfree bluetooth profile (including displaying phone address book

  • traffic information. (The Nuvi 680 using MSN Direct for this information.  This allows the expected time delay to be displayed on the unit.)

  • MP3 player





We drove down to southern California over the holidays, and this was a perfect time to try it out.  Since we were taking the van, we could compare it to the built-in navigation of the Odyssey.



There are several things that I noticed about the Nuvi 680



  • The Nuvi is a lot faster at calculating a route, than the Honda navigation system

  • The list of businesses/restaurants are better categoriezed on the Nuvi than on the Honda navigation system

  • The Nuvi was able to keep the GPS signal better than the Honda.  (The Honda navigation thought that were driving through the fields about 1/2 mile off Interstate 5.)



There still is one things about a portable GPS that I don't like.  None of these navigation units look like they belong in the car.  Ideally, I would like these to look stock.  I think that the Garmin and Volvo partnership is a start.  Unfortunately this solution doesn't look stock.  It would be great, if Volvo put the mounting in the dash, instead of on top of it.



I would love to see a partnership with multiple auto manufacturers and GPS makers, to standardize on a interface and mounting mechanism.  This would allow customers to change GPS units as the technology changes.