« Magellan Cancels the Maestro Elite 5340 Connected GPS. Calls You A Cheap Bastard. | Main | Why Dedicated GPS Devices Won't Be Replaced By Cell Phones Any Time Soon »

November 8, 2008

Garmin nuvi 265WT Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 3.5 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

21. Pros

  • Easy to use, well designed, user interface
  • Preloaded Maps of North America + Hawaii + Puerto Rico
  • Speed limit information is displayed on the map screen (where available)
  • Improved traffic reporting options now include traffic map, traffic search, and traffic on route
  • Automatic map zooming adjusts the map zoom level based on your speed and the current maneuver
  • Upcoming turn indicator displays direction of next turn
  • Well designed map screen is easy to understand
  • Large POI database of 6 million entries
  • Excellent windshield mount
  • Stores the last 50 recently found places in the Recently Found menu
  • Ability to connect a phone and a headset at the same time via Bluetooth
  • "Where Am I" feature provides one-touch access to your current location, as well as nearby hospitals, police, and gas stations
  • Easy Bluetooth pairing process
  • When using hands-free calling while navigating to a destination, nuvi automatically suppresses all audio navigation prompts
  • QWERTY keyboard layout option
  • Track log recording
  • Menu items only appear when needed. For example, the telephone button only appears on the Main Menu if the nuvi is paired with a cell phone
  • Good text-to-speech quality
  • Good routing engine
  • Good customer support
  • Hotfix enabled Nuvi 265WT acquired GPS location within a few seconds. Older nuvi 660 took as much as 4 minutes from a cold start
  • Map frame rate roughly twice that of older nuvi 3xx and 6xx models (though nowhere near the speed seen on the new nuvi 7x5 models)
  • Fast panning and zooming on the map
  • Photo Navigation lets you upload geo-coded photos from a phone, geo-coding camera or photo site and navigate to them
  • Automatic Time Zone Transition

22. Cons

  • Screen not as bright as more expensive nuvi models
  • No way to avoid a specific road from a planned route
  • Can't change information displayed in the data field on the map (more expensive nuvi 7x5 models let you choose between arrival time, distance, c
  • Lackluster Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone call quality
  • Searching POI database by spelling a business name is slow
  • Cannot sort Favorites alphabetically; saved addresses always listed in order of closeness to your current location
  • Can't customize the colors or layout of the map
  • Touchreen less sensitive than older models. Requires a firmer touch.
  • Touchscreen is a fingerprint magnet
  • No way to exclude a specific road or highway from the planned route
  • Can't customize the information displayed on the map screen's information bar (the nuvi 7x5 models let you cycle between distance, remaining time, direction of travel, elevation, or time of day )
  • Internal speaker isn't loud enough
  • Limited Detour function
  • Lacks the rubber protective coating found on the nuvi 7x5 series nuvis
  • Cannot connect to both a Bluetooth headset/earpiece and a cell phone at the same time.
  • Bluetooth implementation doesn't support A2DP

23. Conclusion


Garmin's nuvi 265WT builds on the success of previous nuvi 200 models, adding free real-time traffic, Bluetooth for hands-free calling, GPS hotfix for faster position acquisition, terrain maps, and an improved map screen. A year ago this nuvi would have cost three times as much, and been considered Garmin's top of the line GPS. Thankfully, pricing continues to fall, and 265T is a good choice for those who want traffic and Bluetooth, but don't care about the additional features found in the more expensive nuvi 7x5 models.

Physically, the nuvi 265WT looks almost identical to other recent nuvis, featuring a slim black case and 4.3-inch widescreen display. Unlike the more expensive nuvi 7x5 series, the 265WT doesn't use a powered windshield mount. Instead, you have to plug the power adapter directly into the back of the GPS.

The nuvi 265WT, like other Garmin nuvi GPS devices, excels in the ease of use department. The map is easy to read, menus are intuitive, and an updated interface makes it easier to view traffic alerts. Features are nicely integrated so as not to needlessly clutter the screen. For example, telephone controls only appear when the nuvi is actively paired with a Bluetooth phone.

The 265WT does a good job choosing routes that make sense, and gracefully handles missed turns, automatically recalculating a new course within a few seconds of missing a turn. An updated map screen now includes an upcoming turn indicator, and speed limit information is displayed.

HotFix technology does indeed dramatically reduce the time it takes the nuvi 265WT to determine its position after a cold start, though GPS sensitivity was inconsistent, and performance was, at times, poor compared to the more expensive nuvi 7x5, or much older nuvi 660. The 265WT also tended to lose its signal faster when driving through a tunnel, behind a group of tall buildings, and was less sensitive indoors or in inclement weather. Overall, GPS performance was acceptable, but noticeably worse than the nuvi 7x5, 300, 600, and 800 models.

Unlike the more expensive nuvi 7x5 models, the 265WT lacks lane assist, 3-D building view, and the 7x5's new speedy map frame rate. Also missing from the nuvi 265WT is multi destination routing, an FM transmitter, multi-media features (no mp3 player), and Garmin Locate (a handy feature that automatically saves the location where the GPS was last undocked from the windshield cradle).

The nuvi 265WT is among the first GPS units from Garmin to offer free traffic alerts for the life of the device. Unlike previous models, which require paid subscription fees of $40-60 per year, the nuvi 265WT's free traffic service is advertising sponsored. The ads are contextual. For example, when searching for a Hotel, the nuvi might display an ad for Hilton Hotels. Tapping on the ad would initiate a POI search for nearby Hiltons. When searching for a restaurant, an ad for Dunkin Donuts might appear. Coupon or special discount type ads can also appear when driving near certain businesses. For example, when driving near a Starbucks, the nuvi might display a discount coupon for $1 off.

Depending on your own tolerance level for advertising, reactions to the new ad-sponsored traffic service will likely range from 'I hardly notice the ads' to 'I'd rather pay for traffic than constantly see ads on the screen.' For my part, I fully expected to hate yet another intrusion of advertising into the sanctity of my car. But I quickly adapted and, all things considered, found that the ads displayed aren't all that intrusive after all. In all advertising cases, you have to manually tap something in order to see the full-screen ad. Whenever ads appear on the map or Main Menu, they only appear once, and they don't obstruct the view or otherwise interfere with using the GPS. Hopefully this is a function of limits Garmin has instrumented, and the level of advertising or the intrusiveness level isn't going to ramp up over time.

I had no problems successfully connecting the nuvi 265WT with a Blackberry Bold, Blackberry 8820, and Apple iPhone via Bluetooth. The pairing process was simple, and worked on the first attempt for each phone. In all three cases I was able to place and receive phone calls, and access address books and calls logs.

Hand-free speakerphone quality wasn't great, as the internal speaker isn't loud enough to hear voices when driving in the car.

The nuvi 265WT is a full featured GPS that offers a well designed map screen, slim form factor, free traffic for the life of the device, and a large POI database. Like other Garmin nuvis, the 265WT feels solidly built, reliable, and simple to use. Those who don't plan on using Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling should take a look at the nuvi 255T, which is otherwise identical but costs around $70 less.

If you can stomach the price bump, the nuvi 7x5 series offers a brighter screen, more sensitive GPS receiver, 3-D buildings, lane assist, faster map refresh rate, multi-stop route planning, multi-media features, a built-in FM transmitter, improved speakerphone, mp3 player, and a better windshield mount.