Garmin has been in the satellite navigation business for years. They specialise in a wide range of devices – for walkers and hikers, drivers and bikers, sailors and more. Recently, the company has launched a range of activity trackers and GPS smart watches under the Vivosmart and Vivoactive brands (which we’ll be taking a look at in the coming weeks), but over the past week, I’ve been focusing on their core product line that’s now become synonymous with the Garmin name.
I took the latest Garmin digital traffic satellite navigation device for a spin – the Nuvi 2599 LMT-D, to give it its full title. This is the European version of the device that is sold as the Garmin Nuvi 2599LMTHD in North America). Alongside that, I’ve been trying out the company’s brand new Smartlink app for iPhone, which Garmin touts as a big step up in the feature stakes.
For history fans, this is not the first Garmin device I’ve tried. In fact, I first invested in one of their units, a Nuvi 3595 LMT, only 3 years ago. I’ve always been impressed by Garmin’s navigation features, but over time, have felt a little let down by their traffic offering.
This new device, priced at £179.99 (but shop around for discounts), includes a 5 inch pinch-to-zoom, touchscreen display (480 x 272 pixel resolution) that works in either horizontal or vertical orientation. It includes support for Bluetooth, allowing you to connect a compatible smartphone and take advantage of hands-free calling as well as a range of value-added features from Garmin. In these days of pervasive social networking you can also check-in on Foursquare to access more detailed information about points of interest, including ratings, price range and hours of service.
If all that’s not enough, the Nuvi 2599 LMT-D is fully loaded with Digital Traffic alerts, detailed maps of Europe and free lifetime map updates to boot. Does the new model take us kicking and screaming into an era of joyful driving, on clear roads? Read on to find out.
What’s In The Box?
The Nuvi 2599 LMT-D is small and neatly packaged, with the following items included:
- The Nuvi 2599 LMT-D itself
- A suction windscreen mount (shipped in two parts, which click together)
- Long cable for in-car charging
- USB cable for connection to PC or Mac
- Mounting guide and safety leaflets
First impressions, the front of the Nuvi 2599 LMT-D is simple, plain and shiny black, with the Garmin logo appearing underneath the screen on the front. There’s nothing to distract the eye when driving, other than the screen itself, which is great.
The rear of the device is similarly minimalist, with a single button to switch it on and a micro-USB socket to insert either of the supplied cables.
In the three years since I opened my previous Garmin sat nav, the company has been working hard on its industrial design. The Nuvi 2599 LMT-D is lighter than my Nuvi 3595 LMT (at just 184 g), although pleasingly it has a more solid, robust feel in the hand. I noticed that the charging cable supplied with the new model is nice and thin, too.
The older Nuvi 3595 LMT chassis is bulky too, with protruding parts containing the traffic receiver. However, while the new Nuvi 2599 LMT-D keeps the traffic receiver on board, the designers have managed to shave off any unnecessary bulk. This also means it can still check traffic while running off the battery – a nice touch.
The accompanying documents bear a mention, but only because there’s no manual anywhere to be seen. You’ll find a safety pamphlet, registration information and a small fold out leaflet, showing you how to mount the device on your car windscreen. There’s a link to download the full manual, but there’s nothing in the box to indicate how to actually use the device, which delays you getting up and running. A simple quickstart guide, perhaps supporting your first few minutes with the device, would have been appreciated.
Setting Up the Garmin Nuvi 2599 LMT-D
Pressing the button on the back of the device did nothing, until I plugged it in with the charger. Even then, there was no indication of how long to charge it for, or how long a full charge would last. (According to Garmin’s website, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts 2 hours)
As a Garmin veteran, I knew that the next thing I needed to do is plug the device into my computer to grab the latest maps and software updates. However, the booklets supplied only give you a cryptic looking picture, which appears to show you can plug it into your PC. As it happens, there is an online help area on the device itself, although you’ll only discover it if you drill down into the “Applications” option. Once discovered, I found the help documentation didn’t always explain things terribly well.