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Garmin nuvi 265WT - The Best

Categories: Opinion

December 26, 2010

I love computers and other techie toys as much as the next guy, but I've always thought PNDs, e.g., car GPS systems, were kinda silly.  Every home and business in the U.S. has an address, and for the most part, they're logically labeled.  How could anyone need a GPS, I thought?

Well, my wife is from another country.  She speaks (and reads) limited English, and doesn't fully understand the addressing system we use in the U.S.  She's wanted a GPS, and who am I to say no to my wife?  So I decided to buy her one for Christmas.

I had only few requirements:

  1. It had to be affordable;
  2. It had to have an integrated FM traffic receiver and free lifetime TMC;
  3. It had to be able to call out street names in the directions, rather than just saying "turn left" or "turn right";
  4. It had to have automatic re-routing capabilities (for when she makes the inevitable wrong turn); and
  5. It had to be compatible with the optional PhantomAlert service.

I was surprised to learn that there was only one GPS system that met all of my requirements!  That GPS is the Garmin nuvi 265WT.

The 265WT includes an integrated FM traffic receiver and free lifetime TMC, so when there is traffic congestion for any reason, the 265WT will receive the data from NAVTEQ Traffic, a real-time traffic services provider, and provide warnings and re-routing information.  This system allows you to avoid traffic congestion due to accidents, construction, etc., and currently works in 90 metropolitan areas in North America.

Next, the 265WT's turn-by-turn voice instructions include the street names, so when it says "Turn right on Main Street", you'll know exactly where to turn.

All Garmins and TomTom GPS systems are compatible with the optional PhantomAlert system, which audibly warns motorists of speed traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, school zones, dangerous intersections, construction zones, DUI checkpoints, and more.  (Only 13 Magellan models were compatible.)  The data is compiled from reports submitted by motorists,and you can report your favorite cop spots to be included in the database.  For more information on this service, visit

Best of all, this GPS system was more than affordable.  While the suggested retail price is US$219.99, I found it online for just over US$100.00!

On Christmas Day, my wife opened her presents, and I took the 265WT to the car to install it.  It was surprisingly easy.  It is also surpisingly easy to operate, and has loads of other features (such as Bluetooth for hands-free calling) that weren't essential for us, but can definitely be useful.

We did immediately discover two navigational mistakes the 265WT made.  When we first powered it up, it correctly identified our location.  When I entered our destination, it told us to drive through a brick wall onto the nearest street.  No big deal - I understand it doesn't have the details of our property.

The next mistake was blatant, and a good lesson for us to not always rely on the instructions, or expect them to be perfect.  When we weren't able or willing to drive through the brick wall, and we drove in the opposite direction, the re-routing instructions had us cross our established route, go one block past it, turn right and drive one block parallel to it, turn right again and drive one block back to our route, and finally, turn left on the street we had just crossed a few blocks earlier.  There's no logical explanation for this.  It made no sense, and I hope it doesn't happen again, but we now know the system isn't perfect and have one real-life example of this particular flaw.

Overall, the Garmin nuvi 265TW was far better than I had expected, and I can now understand why so many people love theirs.  In my research, I had read (repeatedly) that there is no single "best" GPS system.  But I wouldn't hesitate to go out on a limb and call the Garmin nuvi 265WT "the best" for the new or average user.  I would suggest that if you find flaws in the 265WT that prompt you to want to replace it, you're probably suffering from "missing tile syndrome" (named for those who can enter the most beautiful cathedral in the world, and tend to focus on a single tile missing from its gorgeous ceiling.)  Other than those, the Garmin nuvi 265WT is, in my humble opinion, "the best"!

"If you can't say something nice, let's hear it!"   — Joan Rivers

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