Buying any Garmin nuvi device regardless of its release could be a smart move as long as it has lifetime map updates and lifetime traffic updates (those devices with LMT at the end of the model). But once you go out and actually pick which Garmin nuvi device to get, you will run into all sorts of confusion because of the way Garmin names their models. You’d have to go to Garmin’s website just to discover their latest series but even doing that takes a couple of clicks. Design-wise, many Garmin devices look the same as well. But Garmin is switching things up a bit for 2013 by coming up with something fresh and recognizable. The Garmin nuvi 2557LMT may not seem like a new product but the new design definitely stands out from not just Garmin’s own product portfolio but the sea of other products from the competition as well.

Garmin 2557LMT

Garmin 2557LMT

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Design

For years, Garmin products have been retaining the same simple design but the nuvi 2557LMT marks a small but nice change that makes these products more recognizable. It has a black bezel all around except for the bottom part which has a grey finish instead. This new design may sound simple on paper but it actually looks good and upgrading from an older Garmin product to something new like the Garmin nuvi 2557LMT is refreshing indeed. The 5-inch display isn’t anything special since it is a mid-range device but it is bright and you can use it both horizontally and vertically.

Features

The nuvi 2557LMT isn’t just different on the outside; interface changes were made as well and these changes vastly improve the experience. More onscreen information is available without obscuring the main map view. The bottom pane shows the usual details including the current speed, current street you are in and estimated time of arrival. The top panel shows some information on the destination along with the next turn. The most unique part of this refined interface is the right panel which you can slide in and out to reveal various other information. For instance, you can pop up a panel that shows the distance to the nearest gasoline station without the need for setting another route. The Up Ahead feature makes sure that you are always informed of upcoming restaurants and other points of interest. Finally the left side of the screen shows the zoom controls and speed limit in the area.

Text-to-speech technology has been present in every Garmin device released in the past couple of years. But now, Garmin has finally made some improvements to the technology to make the voice sound more natural. Garmin calls this feature Garmin Real Direction with Garmin Real Voice. Basically, the Garmin nuvi 2557LMT talks to you more as you progress through your route. You will get turn-by-turn directions as usual but you may also receive more natural directions as if a friend is talking to you. If there is a nearby landmark, for example, the GPS can acknowledge it and tell you to make a turn at that particular landmark. The voice engine is improved and far easier to understand. This is the kind of feature that will definitely impress any people that happen to be in the car with you.

The other navigation features feature some lighter but still noticeable improvements to the familiar features present in older models. Active Lane Guidance gets a nice cosmetic improvement that adds an animated model when you drive towards a nearby exit or interchange. This model will point you to the proper lane and give you vocal instructions to guide you there. The Bird’s Eye and photoReal junction views are still available so you can see a better view of the lane and the surrounding area. Any road signs on the highway are also realistically represented.

With a device this new, you have to make sure you get the future-proof goods and the only way in acquiring that is going for the model with free lifetime map updates and traffic updates. This is exactly what the nuvi 2557LMT offers and it does so the same way it traditionally does with other Garmin products. Out of the box, there is plenty of map content covering North America complete with millions of points of interest. You can update the maps immediately for up to 4 times every year and you can continue to do so as long as the GPS device functions. Garmin will never ask for monthly or yearly fees of any form. The database of POIs is searchable and you can add custom points of interest if you wish. You should have no troubles in looking for nearby businesses, stores and restaurants.

Garmin Traffic works the same way it works in previous models. But instead, traffic alerts conveniently appear on the side of the display and you get voice prompts as well. You are also treated to more details regarding a traffic situation so you can get an estimate on how long the delay can last along with any vital information regarding detours. In the case of getting multiple detours, you will get a notification if you are not following the fastest route. Like the map updates, you will get traffic updates for life without the fees.

Garmin Express makes its return to the Garmin nuvi 2557LMT in case you want to do things like change the voices or customize the vehicle icon on your map. You may also use Garmin Express to update the software and maps within the GPS device.

Conclusion

Older Garmin nuvi devices with similar functionality can dip under $200 and they could be good enough for your needs if you can just update the maps. But with a more refined user interface and some nice polishes to the navigation features and text-to-speech capabilities, the nuvi 2557LMT becomes more of a must-have upgrade where you should just forget about the older devices. Besides, the Garmin nuvi 2557LMT is still reasonably priced at $219. Garmin has lit up the competition in a big way and will surely force the other GPS manufacturers to innovate.

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