Buying a new car GPS device for newbies is pretty simple. The absolute safest route is to get a device with both lifetime traffic and map updates and you should be all set. If you are on a shoestring budget, you could get away with a pretty capable device for only $150. Garmin’s entry-level lineup made some impressive showings in the past couple of years as they boasted greater accuracy than smartphones and are generally easier to use. The free lifetime map updates means that you will always have the most relevant POI and street data while the real-time traffic makes the GPS device smarter by giving you the fastest possible route that bypasses all that unwanted traffic. But the Garmin nuvi 57LMT has even more reasons to make the switch and is fully worth the $170 price tag.
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The nuvi 57LMT still has that entry-level aura because of its very basic design. It has a 5-inch display with a pedestrian 480×272 screen resolution and weighs under 7 ounces. It is identical to the older nuvi 55LMT model although the bottom bezel with the Garmin logo received a minor facelift. Because the Garmin nuvi 57LMT comes with lifetime traffic features, the box includes a lifetime traffic antenna in addition to the usual suction cup mount, power cable and USB cable.
The lifetime maps and traffic updates are already given and grant you the added functionality you would come to expect from any Garmin nuvi device with the “LMT” suffix. But the Garmin nuvi 57LMT along with the other 2015 products boast Foursquare integration as the main differentiator. This means that you no longer have to rely on your smartphone to learn more about a particular POI or point of interest. Foursquare is a great directory service smartphone app that can show you all the latest and greatest locations worth checking out. Still, you don’t want to take out your smartphone while driving so having that Foursquare info in an offline database makes perfect sense. Searching for a location works the same way as the older models but you will instead see Foursquare results on the top.
The 2013 and 2014 Garmin nuvi series introduced great features like Garmin Real Directions and Direct Access but the entry-level models didn’t get them. The nuvi 57LMT changes all that and makes Garmin’s entry-level lineup more competitive than ever before. Unlike the features that will always be reserved for midrange and high-end devices like Bluetooth and voice recognition, the Garmin Real Directions and Direct Access features will benefit all types of drivers.
The Real Directions feature is a handy improvement to the turn-by-turn directions. A standard GPS device will tell you to turn at a specific street but even if that street is read out loud, you might not know where that particular street is thus forcing you to look at the map on the GPS device rather than on the road. With Real Directions, the Garmin nuvi 57LMT can mention something that you can immediately recognize such as the next traffic light, a gas station on the corner or a landmark. If you are heading towards a mall or airport, you should be able to get the appropriate directions to that location using any GPS device but you will still have to find the entrance or that particular place inside the shopping mall. The Direct Access feature addresses these possible issues.
The amazing thing about the nuvi 57LMT is that Garmin managed to squeeze in these features without dropping any older functions. This means that you can still enjoy the “Up Ahead” feature which can be configured to show certain categories of nearby POIs on the sidebar along with distance information. The School Zones Warnings feature maintains its usefulness by emphasizing the speed limit and pushing an alert strip on the top of your screen when you are approaching a school zone. The lane assist with junction view is the oldest feature as it has been present in Garmin device for years. Garmin was always good in highlighting the correct lane in a highway before an exit is approached so Garmin nuvi 57LMT didn’t have to make any major changes to this feature.
Some automobile variants have a built-in camera on the back so you can clearly see what is happening on a display. But if your car doesn’t have that feature, you can use the nuvi 57LMT as a stepping stone to get there as it supports wireless connectivity with a special rear camera accessory. The only catch is that you have to buy this camera separately and it costs the same as the Garmin nuvi 57LMT.
The nuvi 57LMT could very well be one of the best entry-level car GPS devices ever made. It was common in previous years for entry-level devices to have nothing more than lane assist. Now you can get plenty of functionality complete with lifetime maps and traffic updates. As long as you are okay with the preloaded maps covering only 49 lower US states, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $170 to get the GPS essentials.
Update: There is a newer model > Garmin nuvi 67LMT