New high-end navigation system ticks all the right boxes
Garmin’s Nuvi 660 is the high-end addition to the GPS giant’s range, offering a massive array of features that establish the device as a complete multimedia travel companion.
It’s a slim and attractive unit with a stylish silver finish and, while it includes a rather dated fold- out antenna, this doesn’t detract too much from the compact design. The 4.3in widescreen display is excellent and the large colourful on-screen controls make the Nuvi 660 easy to navigate, while the menu structure puts all of the important features and settings close to hand.
The new Garmin also succeeds in providing a large degree of custom control without swamping you with sub-menus and confusing settings. The main menu is conveniently split into navigation, settings and extra tools, the latter featuring a range of excellent add-ons.
Despite the presence of an adjustable antenna, time to first fix (the time it takes the unit to locate the required number of satellites) was occasionally a little slow, but once connected navigation is very straightforward.
The large full-screen map view is one of the clearest we’ve seen, and voice synthesis support means street names and locations are read out as well as directions. From the map you can navigate to a waypoint view with a single click, or a trip computer for journey and distance information.
Maps are easily adjustable through the zoom control and the manual map search offers the device road atlas functionality, although the display does take a second to refresh when scrolling around.
In addition to the navigational features you’ll find Bluetooth support for phones and safety camera alerts. You’ll also find 2GB of internal storage with preloaded maps of Western Europe and an SD card slot for additional memory. Even the suction mount is worth a mention; it’s the smallest we’ve seen and includes a handy clip on/off mechanism for quick removal of the GPS.
One of the most impressive aspects of the device is the range of extras on offer. While rivals have started offering similar features, very few get the functionality just right, but Garmin has integrated everything seamlessly with the main GPS functions.
You’ll find an mp3 player and Ebook reader that can be accessed directly from the map view, with tracks split into handy Album/Artist/Genre categories for easy browsing. The player actually shows off what is a pretty powerful built-in speaker, although you'd still be better off using an adapter to wire it into their car stereo.
The UK version lacks the built-in FM transmitter found in the original US release, an unfortunate oversight considering the recent revision of transmission laws. Once audio is playing you’re free to navigate around the other features or return to map view without interruption.
You’ll also find a photo viewer, calculator, world clock, currency and unit converter supplied, along with sample language and travel guides, the full versions of which are downloadable from the Garmin site for additional charge.
We were very impressed by the Nuvi 660 and its comprehensive range of features. Traffic reports, journey revisions and voice notifications work seamlessly, and attention to detail is superb, right down to the way you can change the arrow representing your position into a sports car, hatchback or monster truck icon.
An external volume control would have been nice, and in terms of fine tuning some users might miss the odd absent setting, but in refining navigation down to the most important elements Garmin has ensured usability doesn’t suffer.
You can pick up the Nuvi 660 online now for around £350 if you shop around, and at this price it’s a bargain. It has no real drawbacks compared to high-end competitors and in many ways is easier to use.
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Pros: Slimline design; colourful widescreen display; very easy to use; wide range of extras including mp3 playback; traffic module supplied Cons: No external volume control; time to first fix can be a little slow Overall: At the price you can pick up the 660 for online this is an excellent all-round travel solution that looks great and is a joy to use
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