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David vs. Goliath, The Garmin Nuvi 200 vs. The TomTom Go 520

New TomTom vs. New Garmin, Do We Need All The Extras Or Will An Entry-Level Sat-Nav Do?


We've got David vs. Goliath in this in-car Sat Nav comparison review, the Garmin Nuvi 200 takes on the new TomTom Go 520. (Remember this applies to the Nuvi 250 / 270 and w variants as well as the Go 720 - the only difference is the maps they come loaded with).

Let's take a step back from the adversarial viewpoint and discuss why it is important to look at entry level units in comparison to their more expensive cousins. Firstly, not everyone has the budget to buy a top of the range Sat Nav, and next if you've got the cash are the extra features worth paying for?

The Garmin Nuvi 200 is billed as an entry level Satellite Navigation device, but it is far from basic. For around £150 you get touch screen, 3d maps of the UK and Eire, Post-Code or address look-up, POI'S , speed cameras pre-installed, divert route, lat / long capability, favourites and recent destinations. See the review of my Garmin Nuvi 200 for more details.

The Tom Tom 520 comes with all those features, plus maps of main roads in Europe, Bluetooth Handsfree for mobile phone calling, voice recognition, it will read out street names, you can update its maps yourself, a better route planning package, the ability to download live traffic info and avoid queues or slow traffic, mp3 player, and much more. See our review of the TomTom Go 520 for full details. At the time of writing this article the TomTom 520 can be had for about £300.

Back to the subject in hand, which is better, the Nuvi 200 or the TomTom 520? As A to B navigators, there is little in it. Yes, the 520 can read out road names, but that doesn't make that much of a difference in my opinion. The screens on both units are bright and clear - the voices are loud enough for most conditions and destination entry is a breeze on the TomTom and the Garmin. Even the widescreen of the Tom Tom 520 doesn't give it much of an edge - just watch our video for evidence of that.

Where the TomTom excels is in those extra features we mentioned, and I'll pick out what I think are the most important ones: Bluetooth for mobile phone hands-free calling / traffic alerts; Mapshare - the ability to upload and download free map updates; FM modulator for directions and music through your car radio; and finally the 'Help Me!' menu of useful POI'S.

So there we have it. If your wallet can stretch to it, the extra bells and whistles of the TomTom Go 520 are a worthy and useful addition - but don't be fooled into thinking that a Nuvi 200 isn't as good at navigating just because it is half the price - and it can fit in your shirt pocket too!

A quick extra bit about the different versions Nuvi's in the 200 range. The 200 has maps of UK and Eire . The 250 also has the rest of Europe, while the 270 has Europe and North American maps. There are currently two TomTom Go's out, the 520 with UK and European Major Roads, and the 720 with Street Level maps of Europe . We expect to see a 920 with European and North American maps soon.

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Comments / Questions:

Just got the Nuvi 360. Bluetooth was the real big selling point for me. The only noticeable feature its missing is the FM transmitter and I can live without that since I treated myself to XM a little while back. Clay.

Great!

I was wondering if either the Garmin or Tom Tom lets you know if you've made a wrong turning before rerouting you. Tony.

No, they just re-route you.

i bought a sat nav to avoide traffic jams and was wondering dose my garmin nuvi 200 have this function thanks dave.

Sorry, the Nuvi 200 doesn't have the ability to avoid congestion.

Having a 200W I was interested in using the picture viewer option but discovered its limitations. The Garmin Satellite Navigator 200W (i.e. 16:9 widescreen version) can display users own .jpeg pictures. Whilst those from a camera will display directly these are hardly ideal –the SatNav will reduce the picture size on screen to a small default size as the file size is too great. There is one advantage in that at least the picture isn’t stretched out to widescreen format thus making people look fat.
       You can however prepare your pictures so that they more or less fill the screen without stretching out the subject by cutting out a widescreen section and then reducing the size of the file.
       NB Garmin’s own supplied pictures are 480x232 pixels and between 14.6 and 37.4K

Preparing the picture
       Camera picture format (aspect ratio) is different to that supported by the SatNav. If you wish to see the pictures in widescreen then it’s best to crop a widescreen section from a picture and use that. The freeware program 'Jpeg crops' will do this for you (create your own 480x211 pixel option)

       We also need to reduce the picture file size down to around the values used by garmins own pictures -freeware program 'Jpeg picture resizer' will do this. Reducing the pictures to around 20-30% of the original size seems about right but check the final size to be sure. Paul.

Great Info Paul, Thank-You!

The garmin is streets ahead on battery life than the tomtom when a charger is unavailable ,if you are going to do a review at least check out the obvious things that effect your average punter. Micky.

Good point - but the TomTom is running a lot more extras....

Will the tom tom 520,reacted to both male / female at same time,or just one? Dave.

I guess you're talking about the voice recognition. The tomtom will react to any voice - no training involved - but it can be a bit hit and miss if there's background noise in the car - like kids talking, radio on, loud engine, wind noise, etc.

Where is the space button if you are typing a street name or resturant?

It's the icon that looks like a square bracket on its side.

Just got a garmin 250 but have no idea what the snapshot feature is or how to use? Charlie.

Haven't heard of that - but it could be the route summary viewer - in the map screen (during a route) press the "next turn" display in the bottom right of the screen, and you can preview your route with the arrow keys.

 

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