RV owners really can’t settle for a 4.3-inch GPS device because it can be difficult to look at the screen from the driver’s seat when it is mounted. This is one of the reasons why car GPS manufacturers went for the 5-inch form factor. But this form factor is starting to get popular amongst car owners too because the map visuals stand out more and the touch interface is more accessible. Of course, these manufacturers have to price these larger GPS devices a bit more. Garmin is a leading GPS brand that is actually late to the 5-inch party but it is making a smart move to offer a low-cost 5-inch car GPS device option for people that don’t mind the basic features but need a large screen to see the map and plan routes. The Garmin nuvi 50LM is one of the few 5-inch GPS models that fall below the $200 price point.
If you have seen a standard Garmin GPS device before, just imagine one that is slightly bigger than that. Compared to Garmin’s other 5-inch GPS models, the design can actually be deceiving because it is the internals that make this GPS device cheap.
Garmin’s goal with the Garmin nuvi 50LM is to have only the most essential features that consumers absolutely need. The list of features isn’t long for this product but every feature counts. A good example of an essential feature is the amount of points of interest the device has. With over 5 million POIs present, consumers living in the US can just turn on the device and it is ready to plan routes. Canadian residents need to fork out an extra $10 to get Canada maps for this device.
5 million is a huge number considering the various categories of places available ranging from popular restaurants to gas stations. But this data might not be so accurate after a few months or years. This won’t be a problem for Garmin nuvi 50LM owners because the LM suffix refers to the free lifetime map updates that Garmin provides to these devices. Map updates can be made four times a year but users can continue to get map updates for lifetime and there will never be an associated cost.
Garmin introduced 5-inch budget Garmin nuvi devices before but the Garmin nuvi 50LM manages to go even lower in price. What is surprising though is that it has the lane assist with junction view which is normally reserved for $200+ models. This is a very helpful feature if the planned route includes highways as it is possible to miss the highway exit forcing the GPS device to recalculate the route. The lane assist with junction view feature fixes this problem by bring up a 3-D view where you can see a visual representation of the highway along with a highlight of what lane you must be in. This ensures that the exit indicated on the route can be taken. This view also shows other important signs including speed limits.
The simple user interface counts as the other major feature that the Garmin nuvi 50LM has and it looks nice on the large 5-inch display even though it has the same resolution as Garmin’s 4.3-inch devices. It actually has the same interface that other Garmin GPS devices have so expect to be greeted with those two large icons whenever the device is turned on. Touch the “Where to?” icon to plan a quick route using a simple step-by-step procedure or touch the “View Map” icon to get the current position and check out any points of interest in the area. A text-to-speech engine is also incorporated in this device making it possible for the Garmin nuvi LM50 to read street names out loud. This helps when you are asked to make a turn but you cannot read the screen to find out what street the GPS device is referring to.
People that don’t intend on driving anywhere outside the US can get away with a $170 price tag which is a great deal as it includes free lifetime map updates. This already beats the older Garmin nuvi 2300LM in value.
Although some key features like ecoRoute, pedestrian navigation and free lifetime traffic updates are absent, you still get a complete GPS package where a suction cup mount and USB cable are included. While smartphones may offer extra bells and whistles along with basic GPS functionality, Garmin still offers good navigation performance and a large screen to make the maps easier to see. For $170, it is very competitive and should encourage other GPS manufacturers to make inexpensive 5-inch GPS devices.
Update: You may also consider these newer models :