A Nav system that won’t break your data plan

If you rent cars when you travel you’ll pay for the Garmin Nüvi 2597LMT in just a few trips

SASKATOON, SK, Mar 8, 2014/ Troy Media/ – When I’m on the road, I’ve long used turn-by-turn navigation on my iPhone as a way to get around – especially whenever I’m in cities I’m not familiar with.

I recently bought a vehicle with a built-in Nav system but second vehicle doesn’t have a Nav system in it, so I still rely on the Apps on my iPhone to do the job.

They certainly do the job as far as getting me to where I want to be, but I’ve realized there are two fundamental problems. First, I’m using data on the iPhone, something I‘m not really keen about because I don’t have an unlimited data plan. Second, the screen’s too small for my old eyes, and even though I can get all the commands verbally, I like to see a rolling map.

A few years ago I had a small Garmin Nüvi that I took wherever I went. It fit in a pocket and I used it extensively; then I progressed to Navigon’s excellent iPhone App and the old Nüvi was given away. Navigon’s now part of Garmin and I continue to use the App.

Times change and now I have a Garmin Nüvi 2597LMT to use. It’s great because it has lifetime map updates, a 5” display and it’s still small enough to carry in a jacket pocket or murse.

It is priced around $200, a decent price for a Nav system that’ll fill most needs.

Travellers will appreciate having a device they’re familiar with that is easy to carry along in their bag. When renting a vehicle, you can save the fee the rental company charges by bringing your own GPS and you can use your phone for other things.

You get free updates of North American maps as long as your Nüvi2597 works, so you can keep your Nüvi loaded with the latest information very easily. Garmin’s Traffic feature keeps the driving map on the screen at all times; traffic alerts appear on the side and are spoken as well, so you’re constantly kept aware of everything going on around you. Garmin Directions with Real Voice gives you easy-to-understand directions, using recognizable landmarks and buildings or traffic lights as points of reference. It’s operable by voice commands, so all you have to do is speak the name of a place and it’ll help you get there. Garmin has done a good job of having the voice pronounce street names properly – it’s not perfect but much improved over the old Nüvi I had.

It’s Bluetooth compatible, so you can use it as a hands-free device for making cell calls, and Garmin’s Smartphone Link is a mobile App that connects to an iPhone or Android phone so you can share information using your data plan on your cell. It also gives you access to Garmin’s Live Services which offers real-time information on things like weather or traffic conditions. Active Lane Guidance helps you see and hear what’s going on when you’re doing something like exiting a freeway or entering an interchange. You get a bird’s eye view of the interchange and the brightly-coloured arrows indicate the proper lane to select. It’s great!

If you travel a lot and have to rent vehicles, then it makes sense to have a dedicated GPS navigation system with you. It’ll save money and keep you using a device you’re familiar with – and it’ll save data usage on your smartphone. I think that navigation Apps on a smartphone are incredibly useful tools – I use my Navigon App all the time – but I also see the use in having a dedicated piece of hardware to help with navigation. One like the Nüvi 2597LMT is well-priced, full-featured and a nice size to carry along.

PROS: Lifetime map updates; decent sized screen; no data charges; easily fits in travel bag; Bluetooth connectivity; Garmin Traffic; Garmin Real Directions.

CONS: it means carrying an extra device.

TO SUM IT UP: If you don’t have a Nav system in your vehicle and want to use your cell phone for other uses or the screen is too small – or you don’t want to take a hit to your data plan – then a dedicated GPS navigation system is the answer. The Nüvi 2597LMT is a nice-sized system with Bluetooth capability and it offers a lot of features for a decent price. If you rent cars when you travel you’ll pay for the Nüvi in a few trips!

Troy Media columnist Murray Hill reviews products weekly. You can follow Murray on Twitter at @MurrayDHill.

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