Garmin Nuvi 50

  • Category: GPS Navigation

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Last Updated
November 30, 2011

Editor's Rating
3.5 Out of 5

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use interface
  • Spoken turn-by-turn directions

  • No dashboard mount or USB cable included
  • POI database lacks some businesses

The Garmin Nuvi 50 is an entry-level GPS navigation system with a 5-inch touchscreen that has text that is large and easy to read. It also has text-to-speech and detailed maps, so don't count it out just because of the cheap price. Garmin did, however, forget to include a dashboard mount and USB sync cable in the box.

The Garmin Nuvi 50 is a bare-bones GPS navigational system that has everything you need to get you from point A to B without all the added features (or gimmicks) like Bluetooth calling, traffic data or Wi-Fi connectivity. The design of the Nuvi 50 is very slim and sleek, so most users shouldn't find a problem with the unit's design. It has one lone physical button to turn it on and off and everything else is done via the 5-inch resistive touch screen.

On the back of the GPS is a small loudspeaker for turn-by-turn spoken directions, a microSD card slot for uploading map data and a mini-USB port for charging and syncing the unit.

Included in the box is a 12-volt to USB charging cable to use in your car's power port. There is also a suction cup mount with cradle that's easy to use and works well. If you want to mount your Nuvi on your dashboard (and your local laws allow it), you cannot do least not without requesting a plastic dashboard mount for free from Garmin's Web site. They also do not include a USB sync cable in the box for syncing with your computer, but you can use any mini-USB to USB cable that you might already have.

Garmin has kept their interface relatively the same with the Nuvi 50 model, and we aren't complaining. Garmin's GPS interface has been one that we've always been pleased with and is definitely a strong selling point with all of their units. They did increase the size of the on screen QWERTY keyboard, which makes it easier to type with and less error prone. Everything is icon based, but each icon has a text label too, so that helps when icons seem ambiguous in meaning.

Because the Garmin Nuvi 50 lacks cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, it does take longer to acquire a GPS lock without the aid of these wireless connections. Once locked on, however, it was very accurate and kept up nicely while moving briskly along a freeway. While navigating downtown Detroit with skyscrapers all around, the Nuvi 50 never lost signal and kept things moving nicely.

Garmin pre-loads maps and a point-of-interest (POI) database for the United States (all states minus Alaska). They also have a database of red-light and speed cameras too and alert you when approaching one with an audible chime. The POI database was decent, but fairly incomplete as we found it to be lacking quite a few small businesses and restaurants.

While planning a trip, it didn't take the Nuvi 50 too long to make our route. For close distance trips, it took only about 3 seconds to do so and longer trips about 8-10 seconds.

In navigation mode, you get turn-by-turn directions that can be spoken if you desire. We found the text-to-speech to work decent and provided well-understandable for most street names except for ones that are difficult to pronounce. There is also a speed limit graphic in the lower right corner that shows you the road's current speed limit if known. It also has freeway lane assist, which guides you into the correct lane at major freeway interchanges. A "Where Am I?" feature lets you find the closest hospitals, gas stations, police stations as well as nearest address and intersection for your current location.

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