March 25, 2007

Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270 Review


-A Hands On Review by

Update: The Garmin Nuvi 200W and 250W WIDESCREEN GPS units are announced!

Update: See my Full Review on the new Nuvi 200W/250W Widescreen units

The Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270 has shown up to extend the Garmin line into the value end of the market just as this end of the market is exploding. Late last year, the holiday shopping spree on value GPS systems blew the doors off the retailers, and catapulted the GPS onto the mainstream stage.

"Garmin has a winner on their hands...solid through and through."
Garmin is too big and too smart to let an opportunity like that slip past. I have been using the Nuvi 250, and from my travels with it, Garmin has a winner on their hands and they will put a lot of pressure on the value end of the market to bring on their “A” game; a demand that a many won’t be up to. Garmin has brought to the market a true Garmin GPS, no big corners cut, no big misses in their design. I am pretty happy to be able to bring the first full review of the unit to you; so let's take a look.

  • Complete information on the Nuvi 200/250/270 at GPSLodge
  • For a full list of my own Hands on Full Reviews of GPS units; Click - Hands On Reviews

    The Nuvi 200/250/270 design is an easy-on-the-eyes, elegant one, oozing simplicity with its deceivingly small appearance. I have to tell you that when I got it, I HAD to put it face to face with a StreetPilot C340 to make sure it had the same size screen (it does). The beveling on the front makes it appear diminutive, and that’s a good thing. When it’s on the windshield, it stands tall and gives you clear direction just like any other Garmin.

    The Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270 has a slider on/off switch, which also has a “lock” position to keep the unit in the off position when traveling. Other buttons? Nope, that’s it. The unit has a small speaker on the back that is clear and plenty loud without being tinny like some other units I have used. The unit does have a small reset button on the lower beveled edge that isn’t obvious, but it’s there. The power inlet is smartly placed on the back, and the power cord has a 90-degree bend in it so that the cord comes out and immediately comes down the back. This allows you to place the Nuvi 200/250/270 right down onto the dashboard if you would like to.

    Windshield Mounting
    GarminNuvi250Mount.jpgThe Nuvi 200/250/270 has a simple cam lever action mount that is smaller than other mounts that Garmin uses, and it keeps with the minimalist design of the unit. The mount goes onto the windshield easily with the cam lever action just like other mounts, and has a cradle type holder for the Nuvi unit itself. With two clips on the bottom and one clip on the top of the cradle, the unit can snap in and out with relative ease, and most importantly with one hand. With more and more GPS units getting stolen, easy mounting and dismounting is something you should be doing frequently, and easy operation here will make your life a lot better. The other advantage of this compact design is that when you do travel with the mount, it’s not going to take up a ton of room in your suitcase.

    Nuvi250Navigation.jpgThe Nuvi 200/250/270 is a Garmin, and it comes with the navigation trust that a lot of people have come to expect. This new line doesn’t disappoint. In my testing the directions were sound, and the routes logical. In comparing route calculation times to other value models, the Nuvi 200/250/270 handled the task very quickly. In a torture test of generating directions from my house in Massachusetts to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, The Nuvi 250 did so in about half the time of other units. In more reasonable day-to-day calculations the advantage was not as obvious, but generated routes with a very short time; in about the time you need to get to the end of the driveway.

    Garmin won’t confirm the chipset in the Nuvi 200/250/270 line, but will say that they have moved their recent generations of units to what we all refer to as “High Sensitivity” chipsets, including the Nuvi 200/250/270 line. I was able to get and hold satellites with ease and once I had them, I didn’t lose them. I even took the unit inside my house, and walked to the basement holding satellite reception with ease. So, with two stories of wood framed house above me, the unit still held reception. In older generation GPS units, even driving into the garage would be enough to lose reception. It wasn’t so quick to re-grab the satellites when I actually turned it off and then back on while in my basement (on par with other GPS units), but 1) I don’t need a GPS to navigate my basement, and 2) I think the ability to grab the satellite and hold it through intermittent clutter is well demonstrated by walking into the basement.

    Nuvi250MainScreen.jpgThe Nuvi 200/250/270 greets you with the classic “Where to?” or “View Map” Garmin interface that is both easy to understand and easy to use. For people familiar with the Garmin interface, you’ll notice that the Nuvi 200 series has a more rounded design with a friendlier design treatment. The edges are more rounded, and the icons are softer. I think that it fits with the place as an everyman’s GPS. It’s something that is on the Nuvi 200 series, and is not currently planned for the rest of the line. The minor up-version of the design can also be seen in the favorites screen and the “Home” button. Nuvi250Favorites.jpg
    Previously, the Home Icon was its own icon on the main “Where to?” selection, but Garmin brought the icon one menu deeper (a minor inconvenience) but it now headlines your “Favorites” folder in a green background. Still a logical place for the often-used button.

    How do I set the Home Location on my Nuvi?
    The first time you tap the "Home" button, the Nuvi will walk you through setting that location, but sometimes you may need to change this, especially if you use "Home" as a relative place, like your hotel that you are staying at for a week while traveling. To Delete/Change your “Home” location, you can go to favorites, tap on home, tap edit, and then tap on "Delete" which will allow you to reset the location in the original dialog. Just tap the Home button again from the favorites menu, and the Nuvi will walk you through the dialog again.

    Nuvi 200 vs. 250 vs 270
    The differences between the Garmin Nuvi 200 line ONLY lie between the maps that are pre-loaded onto the units. The Nuvi 200, Continental US Only, Nuvi 250 North America (adds Canada, HI and AK), and the Nuvi 270 adds maps of Europe. Again, these are all pre-loaded and ready to go out of the box. Going to Europe and need to navigate? Grab the Nuvi 270, or 370 or 670, as they have the maps you need. To be clear, I used the Nuvi 250, but what I observed should be applicable for the Nuvi 200, and the Nuvi 270, at least domestically.

    Like all Garmins the unit gives you plenty of notice when approaching a turn in a clear concise voice. The Nuvi 200 line does not have Text-to-speech capability that says the road name, so instead it tells you to “Turn in 400 yards” instead of “Turn on Maple Street in 400 yards.” That capability is reserved for higher end units.

    The unit also sheds any ability to use TMC traffic, which is optional at the Nuvi 350 level (an extra $150 for the antenna) and standard on the Nuvi 660 (about $400 more than the Nuvi 200), so it’s not cheap if you want the capability. It’s not a value feature anywhere at this point that I know of.

    Review Summary
    I enjoyed using the Garmin Nuvi 250 and think that it’s a well-designed unit, with a design aesthetic that invites rolling it around in your hands. The list prices are fairly steep at this point, but I think (hope) that they will drop quickly in the market. I like the Nuvi 200 unit at the $300+ range for the summer. We will see the Nuvi 200 selling for $200 - $250 by the Holidays; it will be a door-buster special somewhere. This will certainly bring hesitant shoppers to the GPS market in droves.

    The Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270 series is a good line-up that should set the bar high for performance at the value end of the market. I thought it was solid through and through, and am looking forward to seeing it on the market and people enjoying a trusted GPS device from a company like Garmin.

    At Amazon:

  • Garmin Nuvi 200
  • Garmin Nuvi 250
  • Garmin Nuvi 270

    Live in California or Minneapolis? Don't forget the dash friction mount if you don't want an adhesive disk stuck to your dashboard. At Portable Friction Mount for Garmin GPS

    More information on the Nuvi 200/250/270 line.

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    Posted by Scott Martin at March 25, 2007 11:36 PM
  • Recent Comments

    I would like to change a business address on all gps. Can you please tell me how to do that? Thank you so much.

    Posted by: alex rabas at December 1, 2009 6:49 AM

    Still waiting to hear if the garmin 200 works in the virgin islands?

    Posted by: Cindie and Jon at November 19, 2009 1:46 PM

    can you tell me if I can add europe Nt map which I previously purchased for my 60 csx to a nuvi 00 or 250?
    Thank you, your review above has been most helpful.

    Posted by: Jose at March 31, 2009 2:38 PM

    comparing tomtom one 125 and Garmin Nuvi 200 which is the better value?

    Posted by: janice at November 24, 2008 4:11 PM

    I don't have the Nuvi 200 around anymore but have a new Nuvi 755 in front of me. You may try to go to the Tools/Set-up and then either to My Data, and select change Home Address/location or to System and edit the Home Location there. It is in teh Set-up/Tools menu.


    Posted by: Scott Martin at September 22, 2008 8:30 PM

    for the nuvi 200 this article says you can reset the HOME favorite but it doesn't work

    when you tap "HOME" if automatically calculates a route
    it does not give you an option to edit or delete it

    how do you edit the "HOME" favorite on a NUVI 200

    Posted by: mcg at September 21, 2008 11:23 PM

    Dear Reviewer:
    I have found your reviews very helpful, but yet confusing because I can't make up my mind, so please help.
    I need a gps for my son, here is what I think I want
    Text to Speech
    appr. $150
    Easy to use
    3.5 screen would love bigger
    slim design
    Needs only for U.S.
    Can you send suggestions quickly. Thanks



    First you can see my Holiday Gift Guide - Top of page - on the right - click the block on the right.

    You are going to find only a few, options at this price. The first is the Mio C230 - see my review on it; seach at the top of this page. Not the easiest interface, but a good unit. I have seen them around the internet for about $160 or so.

    The other option is the Navigon 2100. Seen on special reacently at $149. There are issues with the unit. Again search for my review and you will read about them.

    If you don't want text to speech, the TomTom ONE and the Garmin Nuvi 200 that I reviewed here are good choices and they can be found for your price range or slightly higher at some online outlets.


    Posted by: donna gilliam at December 5, 2007 1:05 PM

    The Nuvi 2XX series does not contain WAAS. I called Garmin and they confirmed this as does their website. I've seen many sites that list this unit as WAAS compatible. Can you explain why?

    Posted by: tim at November 15, 2007 1:50 PM

    Can I buy upgrades for my nuvi 200, such as novalty voices or vehicles

    Posted by: andy at September 14, 2007 4:39 PM

    Thank you very much for a lovely review. Nice Job!!!!

    Posted by: Nancy at April 19, 2007 5:41 PM

    Does the Nuvi (or any other Garmin) include the US Virgin Islands? Nothing I can find seems to say.

    Posted by: Michael Moulton at April 16, 2007 6:06 PM

    Is there a USB port or SD slot on this device at all? I noted the reference to pre-loaded maps and I am wondering about the ability to purchase and upgrade the maps later on.

    Posted by: Mark at March 26, 2007 11:36 PM
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