In vehicle navigation devices have never been as popular as they are now. Not so long ago driving along with a box attached to your windscreen made you look a bit strange - now, its commonplace.
Garmin has been into GPS for longer than most but its forays into the world of portable navigation systems have not always been as successful its fans might have hoped. Its GPS-toting handhelds of both Pocket PC and Palm varieties have taken a while to bed down into usable devices. But with the nüvi, Garmin really does seem to have broken some new ground – in a good way.
The nüvi 350 is not inexpensive though and your first question will be to ask what that hefty price tag buys you. Well primarily it’s a navigation system with 700MB of memory containing maps of the whole of Europe. However, it’s not just a navigation system. It can also handle MP3 music, pictures, audio books, currency conversion, calculations, travel dictionaries and city guides. Plug it into your PC and it acts as a USB mass storage device onto which you can pop files for playing through it, or simply files you want to carry from one place to another.
The £634 price tag is Garmin’s suggested selling price. Shop around and you should find it for less, but even so it’s still going to be a fair wedge and that’s before you start buying the extras such as city guides, dictionaries, or the £196 on the live TrafficMaster traffic updates. On the upside, this is a lifetime subscription.
Garmin also has a cheaper alternative available – the nüvi 300 at an RRP of £380. It looks very similar, but you’ll miss out on the ability to use quite as many extras, as the internal memory is limited to 200MB, and you don’t’ get the maps of all of Europe, just a selected area.
The nüvi 350 is pretty thin and measures just 98.3 x 73.9 x 22.1mm and weighs 144g. The GPS antenna folds out of the rear, which negatively affects the neat look. The 320 x 240 display is touch sensitive and 2.8in in size. The sides house just a power switch, a USB jack for mains power, car power and PC connection, and 3.5mm earphones jack.