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New Garmin Nuvi 205 and 205W In Car UK & Eire GPS Sat Nav PND Review by Rob Nunn

The Evolution Of The 200 Series Continues, But Where's The Text To Speech?

Garmin Nuvi 205w

Ah, the tulips are sprouting, the birds are singing, the grey skies are turning to blue..... It's Spring 2008 and time for a whole new line of Garmin in car GPS Satellite Navigators or PND's, and in this article we'll be looking at the Nuvi 205 and 205w. (205w shown above).

Actually that last statement is a bit of a lie. The Garmin Nuvi 205 and 205w are not completely new units - more of an update to the hugely successful 200 and 250, bringing in a few new features and also oddly leaving some out.

First up the differences in the two models. The 205 has a standard 3.5" size screen, and the 205w comes with the widescreen 4.3" display. It's a matter of personal preference as to which one is best. One argument is that the W models are better for those of us with slightly chunkier fingers, because the on-screen keyboard is bigger, and it's good to have more o the map on display. The counter argument is that the smaller unit is better because it blocks less of our view through the windscreen and fits more easily into your purse or pocket. I won't make any judgements here, go down to your local electronics dealer and have a play yourself before you make any decisions.

The 205 and Garmin Nuvi 205w come pre-installed with the maps of the country where you bought it. Buy one in the UK and it comes with Great Britain and Ireland . Get one in the States and it comes with the contiguous USA maps in its memory. When thinking about whether you might need the extra European maps offered by the 255 and 255w, remember that it's cheaper to buy them with the Sat Nav rather than at a later date. My rule of thumb is that if you'll be planning a trip over to the continent in the next year go for the 255 or 255w - if not, stick with the Garmin 205 or 255w. Although there has been no official announcement as of March 2008, expect to see a Garmin Nuvi 275 in the near future that will come with maps of the whole of Europe and North America pre-installed.

The 205 and w are Garmin's entry level devices, so we're not going to be getting all the bells and whistles, just a strong, basic easy to use navigator. Both have a slim line form factor, the GPS receiver is built into the top of the unit, so no patch aerial to damage. Garmin have updated the processor inside to speed up map-draw times and make the 3d animation smoother.

Navigating is easy. Just tap the screen, where to, then enter an address, Post Code, recent place you've been, or choose from thousands of installed Points of Interest files. These are POI's are records of Fuel Stations, cash-points, restaurants, hotels, parking garages etc, so just choose your category and the Nuvi will take you to the nearest one. You can also store commonly visited destinations as a favourite - the obvious being "home" - and access them at a later date. The Garmin will also navigate to latitude and longitude coordinates or a point on the map if you choose.

A new capability is the option to navigate to pictures, just like the Navman Navpix range, and something TomTom doesn't offer at all. What you do is download Geotagged pictures from Google's Panaramio site, and instead of entering an address, just tap on the picture. Great for holidays and sight-seeing, it just would have been perfect if Garmin had included a built-in camera so you could take and upload your own Geotagged pics to easily build up the database.

On the go the GPS Sat Nav presents a nice bright, clear screen, with loudish voice prompts. Garmin's voices aren't the most natural sounding, but they work and aren't too annoying. Tap the left hand corner of the screen to bring up the comprehensive trip odometer, or tell the unit to take a detour if traffic gets too heavy.

Speaking of traffic, the Garmin 205 and 205w are now TMC and MSN Direct compatible. So what does this mean? With the optional TMC aerial, the Sat Nav listens out for coded transmissions, and turns them into real congestion data which it can use to re-route you around queues and accidents if you so choose. This is a free service in the UK , and a paid subscription in many other countries. MSN Direct is currently only available in the USA , and includes more data, but again is a paid for service.

What else is there? Ah yes. "Where am I?". No, I'm not asking you, it's a welcome addition to the Garmin Nuvi 205's bag of tricks - simply tap this option and it will tell you your lat / long position, nearest intersection and local services, perfect for if you break down.

No more speeding fines, the 205 and 205w come with Garmin's Safety Camera database, which includes most fixed position and mobile locations in the UK . You don't have to, but this database is updateable via the Garmin website for about £30 a year or you could use the alternative services offered by pocketgpsworld.com.

Garmin have included the usual extras of a Picture Viewer (via the SD card slot), calculator, currency converter and world clock. You can use Garmin Lock to add a PIN number to secure your device, and change the vehicle icon to something else from Garmins garage.

Expect about 4 hours battery life, the unit comes supplied with an in-car charger, windscreen mount, dashboard disc and simple manual. You don't get the map discs, as is common practice these days, so make sure you back everything up as soon as you get it.

The one feature noticeable by its absence is text to speech, which is odd is Garmin have included it with the 255 and 255w. Text to speech is where the GPS says road names, "turn left onto Pall Mall " instead of "turn left in 100 feet". This is disappointing, as text to speech is big help when navigating in busy urban environments, but I guess you can't have everything at this bargain price point.

In conclusion then, the Garmin Nuvi 205 an Nuvi 205w are competent entry level in car GPS's, easy to use, reliable, and with the addition of a TMC aerial perhaps a serious tool for the business user, it's just a shame they didn't include text to speech.

Comments / Questions:

Is the 205w able to give you a grid reference or just latitude and longitude?

Just lat and long.

I am interested in purchasing the Garmin 205w for my husband as a christmas present.  He is a lorry deiver and I need to know if this has the trucker option as well as the car one.  If this model does not, is there an alternative.  A model with bridge heights would be helpful too. Sharon.

Great question. Although you can choose to avoid u-turns and unpaved roads, as standard the Nuvi doesn't allow routing to take account of low bridges or weight limits. You can add POI files to include this information (see this site), but the unit will not take this into account when planning a route. The best bet is to ask him what his trucker colleagues are using.

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