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November 8, 2008

Garmin nuvi 265WT Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 3.5 of 5
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16. GPS Reception Performance

Garmin nuvi 265WT vs nuvi 785T GPS Signal Performance
Figure 88: nuvi 265WT vs 785T

The nuvi 265WT's GPS sensitivity was inconsistent. Placed outdoors with an unobstructed view of the sky, the nuvi 660, 265WT, and 785T all performed equally well, although the HotFix enabled 265WT and 785T acquired their position fix much faster than the older nuvi 660.

nuvi 660 vs 265WT vs 785T
Figure 89: nuvi 660 vs 265WT vs 785T

However, when placed indoors, or tested outdoors during poor weather, the 265WT's performance suffered.

The nuvi 785T generally performed equally or better than the SiRF StarIII equipped nuvi 660, while the 265WT was considerable less sensitive, sometimes by as much as 50%.


Figure 90: nuvi 660 vs 265WT vs 785T

Garmin no longer discloses which GPS chipset a given nuvi model uses, but it's a fair assumption that the more expensive 7x5 series is using a higher performance receiver than the 265WT. Test results consistently showed the nuvi 265WT's receiver was less sensitive than the 785T's or 660's.

nuvi 660 vs 265WT vs 785T
Figure 91: nuvi 660 vs 265WT vs 785T

Despite the lower sensitivity, I don't believe the 265WT's performance differential is significant enough to warrant upgrading to the 7x5, or disqualify the 265WT from your shopping list. The GPS had no problem navigating through challenging environments like New York City and Boston. Had I not been specifically testing GPS sensitivity side-by-side with more expensive models, I never would have noticed the difference during normal usage.

17. Screen Readability

Measuring Screen Readability
Figure 92: Measuring Screen Readability

To test the 265WT's screen brightness, I used a Mastech Digital 4-range luxmeter (LX1330B), capable of accurately measuring from 0 up to 200,000 lux. A luxmeter is used for checking the level of illuminance, defined as: 'the density of the luminous flux incident on a surface'. It is the quotient of the luminous flux by the area of the surface when the latter is uniformly illuminated. - (E = df / dA). This luxmeter has a rated accuracy of ±3% ±10 digits.

The nuvi 265WT was placed in a controlled lighting area, inside a light tent illuminated by daylight balanced (5500° K) fluorescent lamps (the lamps are positioned on both sides of the tent, as well as directly above it.

The luxmeter's sensor was held 1-inch away from the LCD display, with the light sensor horizontally facing the screen. The GPS was set to the Main Menu during the light reading, and the screen brightness was set to 100%. Measurements were taken three times, and the average was used.

In order to accurately compare screen readability between models, I have established Garmin's nuvi 660 as the baseline reference model. At the time of its release, the nuvi 660 sold for around $1,000, and was Garmin's most expensive automotive GPS at that time. The nuvi 660's LCD display was generally considered the best available at that time, and was as close to a spare-no-expense GPS as we've seen since.

If we establish the nuvi 660's average luxmeter rating of 305, then the nuvi 265W's average lux reading of 275 means the nuvi 265WT's screen is approximately 11% less bright than the reference 660.

The nuvi 785T's display measured almost identical brightness to the reference nuvi 660. The average reading for the nuvi 785T was 302, while the nuvi 660 scored 305 - a negligible difference that's within the margin of error for the luxmeter's rated accuracy.

18. Speaker Volume & Quality

Measuring Speaker Volume
Figure 93: Measuring Speaker Volume

The nuvi 265WT has a single, rear-facing, internal loudspeaker.

An Extech Type 2 digital sound level meter was used to measure the sound level at maximum volume. This type 2 sound level meter meets ANSI and IEC 651 Type 2 standards, and has a rated accuracy of ±1.5dB.

As with the screen readability test, I have established the nuvi 660 as the reference model for testing GPS speaker quality and loudness.

The sound meter was setup on a tripod spaced 12-inches (measured horizontally from the face of the LCD display to the tip of the sound meter) from the GPS.

The volume was set to maximum on each GPS tested, and the sound level meter was set to capture the peak level over a 2 minute period while the GPS simulated a route.

nuvi 660
nuvi 265WT
nuvi 785T
dB A 86 84 82

Although the nuvi 265WT was slightly louder than the 785T, the speaker was tinny and distorted at maximum volume. The nuvi 785T wasn't quite as loud as the nuvi 660, and I did, at times, find it difficult to hear the GPS when driving at highway speeds.

The nuvi 265WT's speaker isn't loud enough to adequately hear phone calls when using Bluetooth.

19. Bluetooth & Hands Free Calling

Using Bluetooth, the nuvi 265WT can be paired with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone to become a hands-free device. Garmin has a website (garmin.com/bluetooth) where you can check if your phone is officially supported, although many phones that aren't officially supported will likely work fine.

Settings, Page 2
Figure 94: Settings, Page 2

Before you can use the nuvi 265WT's bluetooth features, the GPS must be "paired" by establishing a trusted relationship with a compatible cell phone. After the initial pairing, the nuvi will be able to connect to your cell phone automatically whenever it is within range.

To pair and connect, the Bluetooth device and nuvi must be within 10 meters of each other. Note that unlike the nuvi 7x5 models, the nuvi 2x5 series units can not connect to both a headset and a phone at the same time.

To begin the one-time pairing process, touch Main Menu > Tools > Settings > Scroll down to page 2 > Bluetooth

Bluetooth Menu
Figure 95: Bluetooth Menu

Make sure your phone has Bluetooth turned on, and tap Add from the Bluetooth menu.

Set Your Phone To Discoverable Mode
Figure 96: Set Your Phone To Discoverable Mode

Your phone must be set to discoverable in order for the nuvi to be able to find it.

Nearby Bluetooth Devices
Figure 97: Nearby Bluetooth Devices

After a brief scan for all Bluetooth discoverable devices within range (10 meters), the nuvi 265WT displays a list of all found devices.

Passkey Information
Figure 98: Passkey Information

When prompted, enter 1234 as the passkey on your phone. This Bluetooth security measure prevents unauthorized devices from connecting to your phone.

Successfully Paired
Figure 99: Successfully Paired

The nuvi and phone are now successfully paired. Note that you could have also initiated the Bluetooth pairing from your cell phone instead the nuvi.

Main Menu, With Phone Features
Figure 100: Main Menu, With Phone Features

Once the nuvi 265WT is successfully paired with a phone, the telephone icon appears on the Main Menu. Touching this icon brings up the Phone page, where you can place phone calls, view your phone's address book, and more.