Garmin today announced its 2012 car navigation devices, well ahead of the approaching holiday season. The new GPS navigators fall into basic, mid-priced, and premium categories, and they introduce a next-generation software engine and advanced traffic services.
The basic line is broken into the Nuvi 30 ($110), Nuvi 40 ($120), and Nuvi 50 ($150), with each designation defined by screen size. The Nuvi 30 has a 3.5-inch display; Nuvi 40 has a 4.3-inch display; and the Nuvi 50 has a large 5-inch display.
As trends have shown in years past, up-level features quickly trickle down to the basic units. Here, we see spoken street names, speed limit indicator, lane assist, and reality view are included across the affordable Nuvi 30/40/50 series. The 40LM ($160) and 50LM ($180) variants include lifetime maps, though none of these so-called “Essential” models offers traffic information.
Free traffic data is included with the Nuvi 2405/2505 series, starting at $170 for the Nuvi 2455LT with a 4.3-inch screen and $190 for the Nuvi 2555LT with a 5-inch display. This series uses “Guidance 2.0” navigation software that has a split-screen reality view to represent major junctions, while still showing a traditional map. With this update, Garmin cites there are 25 times more junctions represented than with previous Nuvi models. Further, this software promises faster route calculations and displays. The subscription-free traffic service is termed “3D” describing the increased resolution, or detail, over traffic info found on more basic Garmin devices. The 3D traffic combines historic traffic data with information from other GPS devices, cell phones, news stations, and traffic sensors. Higher-level models in this series add features such as Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition, for hands-free GPS operation, and versions are available that include lifetime map updates.
At the top of the range, the Nuvi 3400 series starts at $330 and spans to $400. These devices are packaged in a slim, 9mm case that is more reminiscent of an Apple iPhone than a traditional navigator. Aping smart phones, these devices have multi-touch glass displays that allow users to “pinch” the screen to zoom in.
The software on the Nuvi 3400 series is termed “Guidance 3.0” and it builds upon the “Guidance 2.0” features by adding the ability to learn favorite routes taken by the driver and even predict destinations. Reality view is expanded with the addition of an overhead perspective. Traffic detail is improved with information received via HD Radio, giving more insight into secondary streets. Garmin says Guidance 3.0 traffic information is updated every 30 seconds—much more often than the typical 10 minutes. Another notable feature is Safe Texting, which allows the driver to receive text messages that the device can read aloud. There is no stated provision for outgoing text messages.
These new navigators are listed at garmin.com for pre-order and go on sale in October 2011. Once available, we will buy units for testing and report on how they compare. In the meantime, we will soon post a GPS ratings update, adding recent units from Garmin and TomTom.
Note: Bargain hunters will no-doubt find the current Garmin models discounted in the fall when these new devices reach the market.