January is apparently a good month for GPS navigator makers to introduce new products because it is the month when the Consumer Electronics Show is held. You can always expect top companies like Garmin to deliver some hot new innovations but this 2014, things are a tad different. With the exception of the massive 7-inch Garmin nuvi 2798LMT, Garmin’s new products all fall under the Essential Line category, which represent their entry-level devices. All devices come with a couple of features that are normally expected on midrange devices. In addition to that, Garmin intends to bring the 6-inch form factor to the affordable zone with Garmin nuvi 65LM having the lowest price out of the bunch.

Garmin nuvi 65LM

Garmin nuvi 65LM

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Design

The nuvi 65LM has a 6-inch display although the device looks a bit bigger than most 6-inch smartphones because of the thicker bezels. This makes the unit feel unwieldy as a handheld GPS device even though the cheap build quality makes the unit feel light (8.6 oz). But since this is a Garmin nuvi device, the 65LM is primarily meant for mounting on the windshield or dashboard. A vehicle suction cup mount is part of the package so you can easily mount it to the windshield and the power cable helps go passed the paltry 1-hour battery life. Moving to the 6-inch size is a bigger upgrade over the 5-inch size than it sounds on paper. The text looks finer and the graphics sharper due to the increased display resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. You can really see more map coverage on the screen and it is easier to key in text as well.

Features

The features of the Garmin nuvi 65LM show that this a fine GPS navigator upgrade for drivers hoping to navigate comfortably in the US and do not need the more advanced features like Bluetooth functionality and voice navigation. Those looking for an entry-level budget device will be more impressed with the nuvi 65LM because of all the neat features that make the navigation experience a lot more pleasant.

While the 65LM is the most affordable 6-inch device in Garmin’s new lineup, it still manages to come with free lifetime map updates since Garmin didn’t bother releasing a 6-inch model without the update support. This is a good move by Garmin because customers deserve to experience the benefits of downloading map updates. Fast forward to a few years later and the Garmin nuvi 65LM will remain relevant as far as map data is concerned. The service can be used as long as the device is functional.

Searching the map database is the fun part as there are millions of points of interest preloaded on to the nuvi 65LM and the interface improvements make it even easier to conduct a search. The home screen will still present you with 2 options so you can decide if you want to plan a route in a few steps or go directly to the map. Garmin’s 2014 lineup including the Garmin nuvi 65LM comes with a smarter search feature that accepts various kinds of queries. You can input a category, a full address, a place or set of coordinates and the Garmin device will return the best results.

Progressing through a route gives you that feeling that you are using a midrange device because the “Up Ahead” feature initially found in that category can be used in the nuvi 65LM. It is one of the best feature additions because it shows you where key locations of ATM machines, restaurants, lodging and more on the map even if you have a course set for another destination. The “Up Ahead” panel shows you how far away you are from the nearest point under a category of your choosing. This won’t show you locations of police stations and other emergency services since the “Where Am I?” function handles that.

The Garmin nuvi 65LM is also capable of detecting school zones so drivers can drive more carefully. You can’t miss the school zone because an audible alert will be issued as well as a warning displayed on the 6-inch screen. It help you navigate through highways and junctions too thanks to the lane assist with junction view. This feature splits the screen so you can see both the map view and the 3-D view showing which lane you have to stay at. It looks wonderful on a 6-inch device.

There is a slightly more expensive Garmin nuvi device known as the nuvi 66LM and it has the exact same features and design. The only difference between that device and the nuvi 65LM is the map coverage. The 65LM only covers the 49 US states while the 66LM expands to Canada. Bear that in mind when choosing a device.

Bottom Line

If you don’t need the maps in Canada, the Garmin nuvi 65LM is a fine entry-level GPS navigator and it somehow manages to dip below the $200 price level. It is nice to know that you can finally get a large GPS device with a fairly high resolution and free lifetime map updates for $179. That is even cheaper than most tablets which may have support for third-party navigation apps but simply don’t perform as well. The nuvi 65LM comes with all the trademark Garmin features from the highly accurate GPS tracking and very simple touch interface. The new improvements make Garmin’s entire entry-level portfolio even more valuable.

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