Garmin Nuvi 260 GPS

I love my Garmin Nuvi!  It is simple, elegant, easy to use, helpful, and effective.  The roads in Seattle are laid out far differently from what I was used to in Texas, and this makes navigating them a breeze.  When we're on trips, it finds us food quick & easy along our route.  No more need to print out maps or get directions to places with this little fella on board (or write down my unique Driving Direction Syntax).  I don't use it all the time, just when going somewhere new, but that happens often enough.  It is slim, lightweight, has an internal rechargeable battery so it's portable and comes with a nice simple car mount and charger.  And maybe best of all, the user interface is surprisingly simple, elegant, and effective.

In my opinion, when it comes to GPS less is more.  The Garmin Nuvi 200 series doesn’t have near as many features as other brands (like TomTom, Magellan, etc) such as Bluetooth integration, automatic map updates, a real fast processor, etc.  But what it does have is it just works, is reliable, super easy to use, and looks nice with a streamlined workflow.  Think Apple iPod vs <insert complicated MP3 player here>, one is simple and stylish, the other, well, you get the point.

Garmin Nuvi 200

Nuvi Series Comparisons

I've personally tried and evaluated the 200, 200W, 260, 270, 350, and 710.

Update (8/9/08): has a handy comparison chart of the nuvi series.

Here are my notes on the various Garmin nuvi models:

  • 200/200W, a great basic model, $152 on (when published), only 48 states, does not speak street names.  I'll probably get one of these to have a second on hand for our other car.
  • Any W model, I'm not a fan of the wide-screen models (200W, 260W, 710, etc) since pocket (or small bag) portability is important to me (that's why they have a 5hr battery) and the normal screen works just fine for viewing directions.  The wide screen also takes more room if mounted on your front windshield and looks overly geeky (IMHO).
  • 250, doesn't speak street names, but includes all 50 states and Canada.
  • 260, just right, my pick!, $216 on, I'd recommend the 260 model.  It includes all 50 states and Canada (unlike only the 48 covered by the 200) and speaks the street names (unlike the 200, 250 or 270).  Dawn likes the fact it speaks the street names since you can navigate while driving without needing to look at the unit (and possibly getting distracted), you can just listen to it. 
  • 270, has the most maps including all 50 stats, Canada, and Europe, but does not speak street names.
  • 350 (300 series), these were earlier models than the 200 series and while they may have a few more features in the way of Bluetooth integration, photo viewers, MP3 players, etc, it's just a lot of overkill and complexity that really isn't used much.  Their fun to play with at first, that's about it.  Their hardware and software are older too, the 200 series are slimmer, more rounded, and have noticeably more modern software.
  • 710 (600/700/800 series), like the 350 series, these are feature packed models that just have too many bells & whistles.  They typically include traffic alerts and rerouting which according to reports is more frequently vastly inaccurate than helpful.

Garmin vs Other Brands

Here's my Pro/Con list of why to get a Garmin Nuvi 200 series GPS vs other Garmins or other brands (TomTom, Navigon, Asus, Magellan, etc)


  • Garmin has the best maps hands down in the US.  TomTom is a European company and their maps of the US are not as up-to-date as Garmin's.
  • The POI (points of interest) database is invaluable!!  Sure it may lag behind in areas by as much as two years, but more often than not it has what I'm looking for and is super handy for finding food when on trips.
  • Simple interface.  This is truly a beauty of the unit, it is just very easy to use.  Garmin focuses on the basics without too many features to clutter up the interface.
  • The software UI is beautiful.  Rounded corners, smooth maps, a cute little car icon, it comes across as user friendly, not overly technical like many other GPS units.


  • Other brands like TomTom have many more unique features, including community driven map improvements, but overall I find these to take more time to use and in the end it's the simplicity of the Garmin that is one if its biggest draws.
  • It does not track/save your route or support downloading pre-determined routes (like a hiking or biking route).  It focuses on vehicle navigation so you can set a single destination.  Consider one of the Garmin mapping handhelds or for training on a bike, the Edge series are cool.
  • Oh yeah, and it doesn't have that much needed Alcohol Breath Sensor of the NDrive unit.

Get a Case

Garmin Nuvi CaseI'd also recommend getting this $25 case.  It does a good job protecting the unit.  I take my Nuvi down from it's windshield mount when I'm not using it to prevent vandalism.  Having the case right under my dashboard to slip the Nuvi into (I leave it unzipped) not only protects it and keeps it clean, but also prevents prowling eyes from noticing I have a GPS unit in my car.

New 2x5 Series Just Released

Garmin just released a new line of 2x5 series models.  The 205 model looks particularly promising.  The new software looks nice.  It may be worth trying one of these new units out.

Don't be stupid!

Never yield using your own brain over to the luring mindlessness of following your GPS unit.  Case in point, a bus driver in Seattle blindingly followed a GPS route under a bridge that was far too small for the bus and copped the roof off (Seattle PI article).  Or like my cousin who travels for his job and "lives by his Nuvi 200".  While out shopping when visiting his parents in Houston, he hit the 'Go Home' button and drove almost an hour before realizing he was headed back to his pad in Dallas instead of back to his parent's place in Houston.  <lol>

One lesson I've learned is wherever you go, use your best judgement with turns, streets, etc.  If another street looks better, take it.  It's fun to try other routes than just what the GPS says, and it'll always reroute and put you back on course if need be.


There are many other good reviews out there, including:

Comments (23)

  1. artie says:

    Recently purchased a Garmin  260 and for the money (220.) its a very good unit, however I should of looked more closely at other brands as some of features this unit has  are not as good as in Magellan ot Tom Tom. The volumn control is not nearly as loud as it should be and if you have the car  radio on reguardless of how loud the Garmin is set its still way way to low to hear it over a radio playing at normal volumn. Another problem is the antenna on the back, if its not set in its up position or for some reason you dont realize it hasnt been lifted up then you will get errors in your trip, it once took me to a dead end street and said you have arrived home  that was 250 miles away. Do your home work and look around

  2. noahc says:


    Thanks for leaving feedback.  Are you perhaps thinking of the 360?  My experiences were the same with the 300 line (350/360), it’s volume was far too low and if the antenna wasn’t up it went into simulated driving mode.  The Nuvi 260 has a much high volume level which I keep at 40% since it’s so much louder and the antenna is actually internal, so there is no ‘lifting’ involved.

    That does raise some good points, the 200 series over the 300 series has:

    – An internal antenna (so you don’t have to raise one)

    – A louder speaker (much louder and clearer)

  3. favio says:

    It is possible to turn up the voice level…but you have to be willing to hack the voice file a wee bit with a hex editor.

    Just Open the .vpm file you want to modify in the hex editor, and search for "<voice_volume>96</voice_volume>" without the quotation marks…and change the numerical value – I have Australian Karen cranked up to 96. This makes the sound level of the voice prompts comparable to the MP3 level when I hook my Nuvi350 into my vehicle’s sound system via the added line input that takes the place of the non-existent CD changer. Before I did this, when I played MP3s at a comfotable listening level, the voice prompts were too quiet. Now, they’re comparable.

  4. shrifty says:

    I currently have a nuvi 260 (and have a very strong dislike for it) and would like to be rid of it ASAP.  Prior to getting rid of it, I would like to restore it back to the original factory settings and the only thing missing right now are the help files which I cannot find anywhere online.  Does anyone know where to find these files?

  5. James Rife says:

    i just got a new 260 and downloaded the new 209 maps but i lost the giving of the streets by name how do i get that back,

  6. nuvi350za says:

    I think Garmin Nuvi 350 is the best GPS navigation system in my opinion.

  7. Francine says:

    I lost all datas and maps on my gps. I am away from home . How can I restore the Northamerican maps and data.  I have access to PC tonite. Hope to hear from some one. Thanks Francine

  8. Dick Stanfield says:

    Question 1 – With the 260W, I have accumulated a lot of unwanted destinations.  Some are intersections where I must have tapped the screen, and stored it as a destination.  How the heck do I get rid of these unwanted destinations?

    Question 2 – For a particular trip, I like to go THIS way, and the Garmin routes me THAT way.  It seems to remember MY route with a blue line, so it "could" know how to go in the future.  But it doesn’t; it still goes "its way".  How can I tell the Garmin to "not turn there, but go this way" to the destination?


  9. Garmintweakster says:

    I was able to connect the nuvi 260 and copy and paste the  text to speech  to the nuvi 270.  It took a few minutes and some tweaking, but now I have an extended version of the 260.

    I only wish Garmin would simply make a unit with all the maps, and text to speech in all their 200 series GPS units.

    The markups are stupid when you do a side by side comparasion.  If someone is payinig extra for the 270 why not include TTS?  Well… I got it now by copying it from the 260 to the 270.

  10. Joe says:

    I’m new with the hole gps thing. I have the garmin 260 and it works good. I was wondering how to transfer locations from one Garmin GPS to another?

  11. says:

    Hi Garmintweakster, how to do tweak the nuvi 270 to have tts?  Can you share the TTS files and the instructions?

  12. Charlotte Hoover says:

    I received a Garmin 260 for my birthday.  It was purchased from HSN.  It had not been opened but it has no instructions.  HSN has no more of these and cannot help me get an instruction manual.  I am a novice at the gps and require a lot of assistance.  Where do I get a manual?

  13. silicis says:

    Hi Garmintweakster, how to you tweak the nuvi 270.  that sounds very interesting

  14. Sherry says:

    Got a Garmin 200 AND a Garmin 260 for my birthday.  What do I do?  Can you explaint the exact differences.  My daughter paid $150 (including the extended warranty) – 3 years.  My husband paid $280 for the 260 (also extended warranty).  I’m not sure I can return either one at this point – with them having bought the extended warranties but which one is a better system.

  15. Dan says:

    I’m not sure what we have the Garmin when powered up displays nuvi2xxw. However, I can’t unlock the maps to use my GPS which worked fine until two weeks ago. can anyone help.

  16. rob says:

    the new nuvi 260 has a very low voice and a micro sd card.

    the voive volume cannot be tweaked with an editor.

    can anyone crack this

  17. ann says:

    Charlotte Hoover

    Do a google search for the manual.  Or go to Best Buy and see if they will copy it for you for a price…..

    You actually don’t need it as it doesn’t have much in it anyway.  Google a question about it and someone will answer it ………..

  18. ann says:

    Charlotte Hoover

    Do a google search for the manual.  Or go to Best Buy and see if they will copy it for you for a price…..

    You actually don’t need it as it doesn’t have much in it anyway.  Google a question about it and someone will answer it or just read all the pertaining information listed in that section…………

  19. Rob says:

    The older nuvi 260 had an sd card slot. The newer 260 has a micro sd card. It is the same unit now as the 255. the speakers are junk, so garmin lowered the volume as not to blow the speakers. the software is now copy protected. if you tweak the volume with a text editor it stops working on that tts voice. i own 400 nuvies for my trucking company. I called garmin. They admitted the volume was lowered, and pretty much told me tough. It was cheaper to lower the volume than replace the speakers. It cannot be heard at full volume in a van or truck. These units are now useless. I have read over 1000 complaints on various forums. i emailed them to garmin.

    There response was that there tech team feels lowering the volume was the proper fix. Can anyone break the copy protect to raise the volume. Im stuck with many useless nuvies.    Rob

  20. Frederick Rountree says:


    I have just purchased a Garmin Nuvi 255W and it came with a preloaded map of the USA. I have a MicroSD card for England/Ireland that I want to use this summer. How can I get my Nuvi to display the England/Ireland map only, and not the US map?I want to preview my route before flying over and actually driving it. TIA.

  21. noahc says:

    Frederick, and all those needing help with their Garmin devices, for support with your device, ASK GARMIN TECH SUPPORT.  You can email or call them…

  22. noahc says:

    rob & Rob, I’ve actually found the speaker to do quite well.  To be honest, I usually mute the device in the first place since I prefer not to hear it, but my wife only uses it on speaker and sometimes I will too.  It is certainly not loud enough to be hear over music, rolled down windows, a crying child, etc.  But in a normally quite interior car environment, it is plenty loud for me (I actually run it at 60% volume).

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