Garmin isn't a brand we usually associate with rock-bottom pricing. Although the company competes well on value, its products are generally not the cheapest, instead giving you a lot for your money whilst remaining at the more premium end of the market. But the plummeting price of 5in models has clearly given pause for thought, and Garmin is after a piece of that action. The nuvi 50 sports a 5in screen, yet comes in at well under £100.
The nuvi 50 doesn't feel quite as sturdily built as we've come to expect from Garmin products, which is clearly one area where economies have been made. It's also a tad chunky. But we're willing to accept both of these compromises for the price. There's a solid, separate screen mount supplied, although the car power adapter hooks up via a separate mini USB plug, so mounting the device in your car is not quite the slot-in-and-go process provided by Garmin's premium devices, such as the nuLink! 2320.
The primary navigational features are essentially the same as Garmin's more expensive devices, though. The main menu uses the same simple layout, with two main icons for setting up a route or returning to the map view, and supplemental smaller icons taking you to the settings, volume control, and help system.
You can navigate to an address via the usual drilling down through city to street to building number, or you can enter a full UK postcode and simply supply the last of these. But you can also search for a street name across the whole country, something TomTom still hasn't provided with its devices. You can save a home location and favourites, plus a list of recently found destinations is maintained. So navigating to places you have been before is easy enough.
There's also a traditional category-based points of interest (POI) database, which can also be searched by keyword, although we found this to be a little slow. You can navigate to coordinates, too.
However, none of Garmin's usually extras, like world clock, calculator and currency converter, are included. This device isn't initially aimed at international travel, as it comes with maps for the UK and Republic of Ireland only. If you do ever want to travel abroad, there is a microSD slot, for adding further memory or a pre-installed map set, but the device itself has around 1.4GB of memory free, so you can download a few maps into that as well. There’s also no journey planner, so you can’t create a multi-waypoint trip in advance, although it is possible add detour points once your trip has been calculated, for example diverting to a petrol station along your route.