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July 22, 2008

Garmin nuvi 500 Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4.6 of 5
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4. Installing the nüvi 500 in A Car

Attaching the Bracket Clip to the Windshield Mount
Figure 18: Attaching the Bracket Clip to the Windshield Mount

Attach the cradle to the windshield mount by pressing the socket onto the ball until it snaps into place.

Attach the Windshield Mount to the Glass
Figure 19: Attach the Windshield Mount to the Glass

Locate the area on the windshield where you want to mount the GPS, then press the suction cup mount against the glass, and lower the locking lever into place to secure the mount to the windshield.

Note that some States prohibit you from sticking anything to the windshield. If you happen to live in such a state, you can use the permanent adhesive mounting disc (included) to attach the mount to the dashboard instead of the windshield glass. I strongly prefer using the windshield - it's much easer to remove, and when it comes time to upgrade to a new GPS, there's nothing "permanent" to remove.

Windshield Mount and Cradle, Attached to the Windshield
Figure 20: Windshield Mount and Cradle, Attached to the Windshield

Flip the locking lever back, toward the windshield to secure the mount.

Connecting the 12v Power Adapter to the Cigarette Lighter
Figure 21: Connecting the 12v Power Adapter to the Cigarette Lighter

The included 12v cigarette lighter power adapter widens at the base, so I had to insert it sideways in order to clear the ash tray on my car. Still, the adapter is relatively small and feels well made. A red LED indicator on the base of the adapter shows whether the adapter is getting power.

Connecting the Power Cable to the nuvi 500
Figure 22: Connecting the Power Cable to the nüvi 500

The nüvi 500 uses the same mini-USB connector for both power and data transfer.

Peel off the protective rubber flab covering the mini-USB connector, and rotate the flap out of the way. Connect the USB power cable to the back of the nüvi 500. The nüvi turns on automatically when the vehicle is running.

Mounting the nuvi
Figure 23: Mounting the nüvi

Fit the bottom of the nüvi 500 into the cradle, and tilt the nüvi back until it snaps into place.

uvi 500, Snapped into the Cradle
Figure 24: nüvi 500, Snapped into the Cradle

Garmin's nuvi 500, Mounted in the Car
Figure 25: Garmin's nüvi 500, Mounted in the Car

Garmin gets high marks for its excellent mounting hardware. The included mount is simple, effective, and easy to use. The mount does a good job holding the nüvi 500 securely in place, even when driving at highway speeds, and it's easy to dock / undock the GPS.

Normally I would complain that the nüvi 500's windshield mount isn't powered, meaning you have to connect and disconnect the USB power cable each time the unit is docked or undocked from the car. A powered mount makes it easier to take the GPS in and out of the car, as the power cable is connected to the dock instead of the GPS. However, in this case, the nüvi 500 is a water resistant GPS designed for use outdoors as well as in a vehicle. Exposed power connections on the GPS would be difficult or impossible to implement without making the nüvi 500 vulnerable to water.