Garmin nuvi 250 Automotive Mountable Reviews
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Garmin nuvi 250 Automotive Mountable

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Garmin 250W vs 200W, What's the difference?

Dec 13, 2007 (Updated Dec 13, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Stylish, Sleek, and Simple. Both are well thought out units.

Cons:Comparatively Expensive. No carrying case.

The Bottom Line: You pay your money, and you make your choice. Are Canada and Alaska worth $50? You decide!

Differences and Similarities
Externally, the Garmin 250W, and the 200W, appear to be identical, and there is a good reason for this. It's because they are. They have the same 4.3" 480x272pixel widescreen display, they have the same external dimensions (shown below in the description section), the same controls, and, with one exception, the same features.
So what makes the difference between the Recommended Retail Price of the 250W at $374.99, and that of the 200W at $321.41 (prices current as of writing, taken from the Garmin website)?
The answer is simple, map coverage.
The 200W has coverage for the lower 48 States & D.C., Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
The 250W has all of this, plus Alaska & Canada as well.
Please note that neither of these units offers coverage for Mexico.

So what do you get for your money?
Included in the box are:
The GPS unit (200W/250W)
Pre-loaded "City Navigator NT" maps for either a)Continental U.S, Hawaii, & Puerto Rico (200W), or b)North America (full coverage) (250W)
A vehicle suction cup mount
A dashboard disc
A vehicle power cable
A quick start manual

These units are a compact 4.8, by 2.9, by 0.8 inches, and weigh in at 6.1oz, so they are readily portable.
They have a rechargeable battery on board, which is touted to have a lifespan of several hours, but which I can testify lasts about half as long as expected with eh WAAS enabled.
Though not principally designed as a personal unit, they do have a pedestrian mode, and can be used as a hand-held.
Unlike Garmins upper range models, a 115Vac wall power adaptor, and carrying case, are not included.

Upon power up the main menu appears, and allows you to view the map, set a destination, adjust the volume, or enter the "tool kit" menu.
Navigation on the unit is simple, from the main menu, just select "where to?", which will take you to the destination menu......From here you can choose to manually enter an address, search the POI's, return to a "recently found" destination (once you have developed a history on the unit), select a "favorite" destination (which you program),or navigate to an destination intersection.

Should you select to enter a destination address, note that when entering names, once the unit feels it has enough letters to reasonably narrow the search, it will bring up a list of options with the letters you have inputted to allow you to select which one you meant
For a unit that comes loaded only with maps of the U.S.(200W), or the U.S. & Canada (250), I find it unusual that the first step in entering an address is to select the State (province, or Territory in Canada), but the unit refers to these as counties.
However, once you are in the correct state, you enter the name of the city. On the 250W, when in a Canadian Province/Territory, you also have the option of entering the postal code at that point.
Next it asks for a street number, and then finally the street name (The Street name is unnecessary if you entered a Canadian Postal Code)

Similarly to all vehicle GPS systems I've come across, these unit will not find all addresses (particularly recent construction), but they do better than some other, manufacturers equipment I have used.

These are fairly much "no-frills" units, and other similarly priced non-widescreen units do have a more features (such as the Nuvi 260, with it's text-to-speech capability, or the slightly more expensive Nuvi 350, with it's MP3 capability), but the larger screen on these units makes the navigation easier, as well as more pleasing to the eye.
Having said that, in addition to basic GPS navigation, these units do offer some additional functions, which I've listed below (and are identical to both):

Picture Viewer: JPEG images can be stored on the internal, or SD memory, and be displayed on the screen either as a steady image, or as a slide show, effectively giving you a portable digital picture frame, especially if your camera uses SD memory, as mine does.
If you want to use it as a picture frame on your desk (and you windshield mount the unit in your car), then you can attach the dashboard adaptor to your desk, and use the windshield mount, but an optional AC adaptor would be required.

Calculator: This is self-explanatory, and covers basic arithmetical functions. Can be handy to have one in your car!

World Clock: Which is fairly self-explanatory. The units can simultaneously display the time in cities worldwide (which are selectable), as well as your current location, and also display a world map showing what areas are in light, and darkness at the current time.

Currency Converter: The units can convert a wide range of currencies to any other in the range. Though it uses a database pre-loaded into the system, you can manually update the exchange rates to current, and, I believe, download an updated database from This is an incredibly useful feature for international travel, but with the exception of U.S. to Canadian dollars, its usefulness on a unit which comes pre-loaded with a North America only map system is questionable.

Unit converter: Which allows easy conversion of a variety of measurement units to and from metric, imperial, and US standard.

Garmin Lock: this is a locking system which allows you to select a four digit numerical PIN code, which must be entered on unit power-up, as an anti-theft feature. Much as I don't wish to encourage theft, but I think that if the battery is pulled & the system reset, the unit will dump this, so how effective a deterrent it is remains open to debate.

Points Of Interest: The units come pre-loaded with a database of points of interest, including fuel, restaurants, accommodations, transport , etc, etc, etc.
In addition it allows you to manually enter custom points of interest., so you can tailor the unit to your local area, or pre-program in POI's for an area your going to visit before you get there.

Other Customization Preferences: I could go through each setting, but then why would you need the manual? Let's just say you can set the display brightness, day/night/auto map colors, the vehicle Icon (more of which are downloadable at, 2D/3D map image, select the language to be used on the system ,quickest or shortest route, etc,etc, etc. These are easily adjustable by simply following the on-screen prompt/options.

When in the navigation mode both units react identically. Directions are displayed in a green bar at the top of the screen, the map takes most of the screen, and along the lower edge of the screen are three buttons, the outer two of which also serve as information displays.
The lower left corner contains the E.T.A., and when pressed, brings up an instrument panel with all sorts of trip information goodies.
Lower right has the distance to turn, which when pressed brings up a detailed display of the turn coming up. Between the two is the button to return to the main menu. In addition to this, there are two zoom buttons superimposed on the upper section of the map.
The internal speakers of these units are fine under most circumstances, and only get overwhelmed if you are seriously cranking out the music, or maybe you are running without a muffler! In fact, with the cars sound system off, they can be annoyingly loud at full volume.

Living with them
If you are in a vehicle at time of opening (and assuming the vehicle has an operational 12Vdc outlet), these units should be usable straight out of the box.
Once I had the 200W charged (the 250W was fully charged when I borowed it), I set about testing the navigation.
For the first test I searched for a couple of addresses which I've known other manufacturers units have been unable to locate.
Unsurprisingly, with the U.S. addresses they behaved identically, finding one, but not the other. The 250W aslso failed to find the Ontario address I gave it too. Better than some, but not perfect.
Second test, I punched in known local destinations, and ran the routing given to ensure it was the shortest. No problems here, the routes chosen were exactly as I expected.
Next called for a longer trip. Unfortunately I had to return the 250W to my colleague who owned it, but I did take the 200W with me.
The trip I took with this was across Iowa, from Sioux City to Cherokee. I had taken this trip previously, and the 200W selected the same route I had used then, but my colleague had advised me of a "quicker" route he had taken (before he purchased his 250W), so I followed his directions. Once the 200W realized I was over-riding it's decisions, and not going the way it wanted it quickly got on board, taking me on my colleagues route, which, as it happened, was not quicker, but not significantly slower either, just longer.

So what's the big difference between the two? Alaska, Canada, and fifty bucks!
If you live in Detriot, or Juneau, I can see the attraction of the 250W. But if you don't hail from Alaska, or do a lot of border hopping, I'd recommend saving the fifty and just get the 200W. I can understand why my colleague plumped for the 250W, we do occasionally work in Canada, but I already have another unit with Canadian maps, and so saved enough to buy him dinner!

These are basic units, which get you where you need to go. They're small, light, pocketable, and easy to use.
The settings are easily customizable, following the on-screen menu tree. They are elegant, simple, and work well. I like the display size, uncluttered maps, and the overall feel of these units.

Recommend this product? Yes

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