Every year, a couple of special things happen to the GPS automotive market. First, new entry-level devices are announced with a new feature or two and second, the older entry-level models are priced much cheaper. For the average consumer on a budget, it is a win-win situation and you are pretty much guaranteed a better navigational experience especially if you pick a reputable brand like Garmin. But this year, it looks like the newly announced models are worth spending on. Once you learn what is new with the Garmin nuvi 57LM, you might just forget looking at anything released in previous years even if the prices are attractive.
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The nuvi 57LM weighs the same and has the same screen specifications as the previous model but the front of this GPS navigator is slightly refined. The bottom bezel where the Garmin logo is located looks a tiny bit more stylish and nothing more. With a low asking price, Garmin couldn’t really do anything special with that 5-inch WQVGA 480×272 display. While the Garmin nuvi 57LM is meant to be used in landscape mode, you can also use it in portrait if you wish to see more up ahead when using the 3-D view. In the box, you will get a vehicle power cable, a suction cup mount and USB cable.
In the world of Garmin nuvi devices, the “LM” suffix stands for “Lifetime Maps” which is essential for anyone who is worried about obsolete POI (Point of Interest) data in the upcoming years. But all the major GPS manufacturers offer GPS navigators with free map updates and smartphones offer even more since they can conveniently connect to the Internet. Being the entry-level model, the nuvi 57LM does not have that kind of connectivity but the nuvi 57 series is a bit closer to the smartphone world thanks to the information sourced from popular online discovery service Foursquare. Thanks to this partnership, the many of the POIs in the database have more accurate information. Plus, when you search for a location, Foursquare results are listed on the top complete with the familiar Foursquare icons. People who often travel to new cities will enjoy how easy it is to discover new places and you don’t need cellular coverage to do this.
The Garmin nuvi 57LM also comes with a couple of extra features that used to be exclusive to mid-range and higher-end Garmin GPS devices and it is something that all drivers should appreciate. This feature is called Garmin Real Directions and it makes turn-by-turn instructions a lot more comprehensive. Rather than using the street name as a reference for making a turn, the device can cite something more obvious such as a traffic light, gas station or other landmark. This should help you navigate through unfamiliar streets without looking at the map or a street sign when you need to make a sudden turn.
Another innovative feature making its way to the entry-level pack is Direct Access. This feature pinpoints the exact location of something within a POI that covers a big area. Think shopping malls and airports which should show up fine on your average GPS navigator or mapping app but you’ll still need to find the entrance or a certain store within that shopping mall. The nuvi 57LM simply eliminates that frustration.
These new features are fantastic additions to an already impressive set of features taken from its predecessors. This includes the lane assist with junction view that helps you make the right exit turn on highways and the school zone warnings feature which emphasizes the speed limit if you approach one. The “Up Ahead” feature is a fairly old feature too but worth mentioning if you used a competing device. It takes the form of a customizable sidebar that you can bring up on the map screen. This sidebar gives you distance information of the nearest POI of 3 categories of your choosing. So if you always want to know where the closest restaurant, gas station and restroom are, you can glance at the sidebar without interrupting your route.
The Garmin nuvi 57LM can also serve as a minor upgrade to your car and it has nothing to do with mapping. It can wirelessly pair with the $169.99 BC 30 backup camera making it a lot easier to see what is behind you when you reverse your vehicle.
Thanks to Garmin, it is now the perfect time to buy a dedicated GPS device and it is likely that competitors will offer similar new features in their entry-level models making it an even bigger win for consumers in general. The nuvi 57LM is priced just right at $149.99 and it will never feel too old thanks to the free lifetime map updates. Your smartphone may offer more tricks, but the Garmin nuvi 57LM works fully offline and has Garmin’s highly-acclaimed GPS technology built in.
Update: There is a newer model > Garmin nuvi 67LM