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Garmin has one of the largest ranges of any sat-nav company, as befits its nearly 20 years in the business. Towards the bottom of its comprehensive selection is the nüvi 215. This tiny device sports a 3.5in non-widescreen display and weighs under 150g. Yet it aims to give you all the basics for hassle-free navigation.
Since this is a budget model, the nüvi 215 comes with just UK maps preloaded. A microSD slot is available for further expansion, but you don't get a disc full of maps you can simply unlock after purchasing a key. These will need to be purchased from Garmin's website instead. Full European maps cost £119.14 on DVD and £79.99 on microSD. North America is cheaper at £59.99 for either format.
Despite this being a recent Garmin release, it doesn't have the latest bells and whistles, such as lane guidance and 3D building models found in the nüvi 765T - not that the latter feature has proven to be particularly useful so far. But it still sports Garmin's clear and clutter-free interface.
In particular, the map view is aesthetically well presented and easy to read. During regular travelling, the top line tells you your next manoeuvre, with the bottom left corner estimating your arrival time and the right either showing your current speed, or the distance to the next turning when this is approaching. The result is much less busy than Navman's smallest sat-navs, such as the S30 3D.
Clicking on the bottom left corner calls up one of Garmin's trademark features, the trip meter. This provides a host of useful information. Aside from current speed and direction, the trip meter tells you how far you have travelled, which is handy if your car usage is reimbursed by your company on a per-mile calculation. You are also told your average and maximum speed, plus how much time you have spent stopped, which can make for depressing news if you get stuck in traffic jams on a regular basis.
The initial menu screen offers just two main options, for planning a route or just looking at the map of your current location. Aside from the core abilities to navigate to a postal code, address or city, you can also head for a junction or map coordinates. The points of interest (POI) database includes sections for Food, Fuel, Transit, Lodging, Shopping, Cash Points, Parking, Entertainment, Recreation, Attractions, Hospitals, Community centres and Vehicle Services such as rental companies and garages.
Each category has a further menu layer underneath and, by default, listings are shown relative to your current location, with the closest first. The restaurant listing is far from complete and a few petrol stations are listed which no longer exist but generally the POI database contains enough entries to be useful and is logically organised.
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