2015 looks like it is going to be the year of the smartwatch simply because virtually all the tech companies can’t finish a keynote without introducing some sort of trendy wearable. Garmin is no stranger to the smartwatch business and kicked off their CES 2015 press release strong with improved GPS fitness watches. But Garmin isn’t giving up on the automotive category as the company also announced several affordable Garmin nuvi devices. The Garmin nuvi 57 is the cheapest device in Garmin’s 2015 lineup but it comes with a few “smart” tricks of its own.

Garmin nuvi 57

Garmin nuvi 57

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Design

The nuvi 57 retains the dimensions and other physical specifications of the previous entry-level model. As evidenced with the first digit, the Garmin nuvi 57 is a 5-inch GPS device with a WQVGA 480×272 resolution so you can expect text to look big. The front of the GPS navigator looks a bit more polished though. The bottom bezel has a nice accent that makes the Garmin logo stand out a little bit more. Being the entry-level model, you won’t get anything more than a vehicle power cable, suction cup mount and quick start manual in the package.

Features

Garmin nuvi devices always had preloaded maps with millions of points of interest (POI) and nowadays, it is a standard feature for any automotive GPS device. But the nuvi 57 goes beyond that by offering a full POI database right from Foursquare. This is a great new addition for Foursquare fans as the listings are more descriptive and relevant. The Garmin nuvi 57 cannot access the Internet and does not support any kind of connectivity to smartphones so you pretty much have Foursquare in your pocket. This also makes up for the lack of free map updates. The preloaded maps cover the lower 49 US states. Like its predecessor, you can search for categories, names of places or full addresses all from a single search box.

Garmin is also bringing its Garmin Real Directions technology to the nuvi 57 and its entry-level siblings. Previously exclusive to older higher-end models, this nifty feature delivers directions in a more natural manner. You might be asked to make a left turn right after a gas station or mention a recognizable landmark so you are less likely to miss a turn if you are not familiar with a street name.

The Garmin nuvi 57 also offers another new feature called Direct Access which is a joy to use when accessing more complicated destinations like shopping malls and airports. It can pinpoint the exact location of a specific store inside a shopping mall or a parking spot.

Finally, the nuvi 57 adds support for the BC 30 wireless backup camera which you can purchase separately for $169.99. If your car doesn’t its own rear camera, you can install the accessory and the Garmin nuvi 57 will recognize it. It is a nice and inexpensive upgrade for old or basic cars.

Many of the features found in the older nuvi 55 are making a return to the nuvi 57 like the highly useful “Up Ahead” feature. While you are following a route in 3D view, you can bring up a sidebar to see what key POIs are ahead. You can customize this sidebar too so you may,for instance, see at a glance how far away the closest gas station, restaurant and ATM are. If you ever approach a known school zone, you will see an orange notice on the top of your display with distance information. It also shows the school zone speed limit so you can slow down and avoid potential accidents.

The lane assist with junction view still retains the same familiar functionality. As you head towards a highway, the view will split into two with the left side featuring the 3D view and the right side showing you important highway signs and lane information. The pink arrow clearly tells you what lane you need to be in so you won’t miss the important exit. This feature helps you navigate through complex interchanges as well.

Bottom Line

Entry-level automotive GPS devices don’t get a lot of love these days since companies want customers to pay more for a feature-rich midrange or high-end model that is sure to beat a smartphone in terms of navigational functionality. But Garmin is making those sub-$150 devices like the Garmin nuvi 57 equally attractive with the Foursquare POIs being the best new addition. It makes it a better buy than competing budget models and you still get the small savings for not opting for a device with lifetime maps and traffic. The nuvi 57LM or nuvi 57LMT models are still a better choice if you are willing to spend $20 to $40 more but the nuvi 57 finally gets respect as a fully-capable $129.99 GPS car navigator.

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