Navigation is a breeze with Garmin’s N

The Garmin Nüvi 200 is a great entry into the world of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. At about 4 by 3 in. in size, it can be mounted in your vehicle or carried for pedestrian travel or activities such as geocaching.

The entry-level device, which can be found on the Web for about US$200, doesn’t include fancy extras such as Bluetooth capability or MP3 playback. But it does come with a picture viewer, a world travel clock, a currency and measurement converter and a calculator.

The Nüvi 200 includes preloaded maps of the continental U.S., Hawaii and Puerto Rico (other model numbers come with different map packages). With just a few pokes at the touch-screen display, you can be on your way to specific addresses or even “points of interest” such as the nearest ATM, restaurant, hospital or hotel (13 categories in all). It can also accommodate an SD memory card that lets you add your own points of interest. The maps are generally accurate and up to date, although in about one month of use I did find it chooses to completely ignore one shortcut near my home, instead sending me on a longer route.

For GPS navigation, it includes the options of a 3-D or flat map display, auto, bicycle or pedestrian travel modes and feature avoidance (for bypassing toll roads, for example). You can choose to travel by the fastest time or shortest route. You can even choose different vehicle icons, in case you want to pretend you’re driving a monster truck, for example.

Navigation is a breeze, with audible turn directions and a display that constantly updates the distance to the next turn. This unit lacks the higher-end feature of text-to-speech, which allows for audible directions in which the service pronounces actual street names, such as “turn left at Main Street,” for example, instead of “drive 1.2 miles and turn left.” You can display your elapsed time, estimated time of arrival, compass direction, average speed, time spent stopped and more.

Price: US$199-$254

Summary: The Garmin Nüvi 200 is an inexpensive way to obtain basic GPS capabilities in an easy-to-use unit.

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