Spending around $200 should get you a GPS navigator that is far more capable than the navigation functions of a smartphone. Now is also a great time to buy one, since Garmin announced six new devices to represent the 2015 Essential Line, and five of them are priced under $200. Only the Garmin nuvi 68LMT is priced a little bit more at $209.99, making it Garmin’s top-tier device in the entry-level category. Despite its positioning in price, you get a lot more than what you would get from a Garmin nuvi device released in the past.
The nuvi 68LMT has a 6-inch screen that is fantastic for viewing 2D or 3D maps. You may also use it vertically if you want to see what is further ahead. The increased 800×480 resolution gives you a bit more detail too, although not the kind of level you would expect from smartphones with Full HD displays. It weighs 8.6 ounces, which is quite light for a 6-inch device, although the battery is quite small and can only power the device for about an hour. Like its predecessor, the box includes a USB cable, suction cup mount, power cable and lifetime traffic antenna.
All of the Garmin nuvi devices in the 2015 Essential Line share a vast majority of features and new improvements. However, the Garmin nuvi 68LMT is the only GPS navigator in the set to offer both lifetime map updates and traffic updates, while also having preloaded City Navigator NT US and Canada maps. Lifetime traffic avoidance is a great feature to have if you need clearer statistics as to when you’ll arrive at a destination based on the traffic situation. You also might be given alternative routes to ensure you reach your destination as soon as possible. This feature is free for life, just like the map updates, so your device will never feel obsolete.
Joining Garmin’s impressive POI database is Foursquare’s massive directory of great and popular places worth checking out. Rather than taking the form of a launchable app, Foursquare is deeply integrated in the interface so everyone will find it useful. When you search for a POI to navigate to, you will notice that Foursquare results are on the top of the list. This is because Foursquare features more descriptive information for these points. Foursquare normally requires an Internet connection, but Garmin’s integration works offline. Like the previous models, you don’t have to be specific with searches. Typing something like “taco” will bring up results of restaurants that serve tacos.
Garmin is also carrying some high-end features like Garmin Real Directions and Direct Access on the nuvi 68LMT. Garmin Real Directions serves as a minor but useful upgrade to the turn-by-turn directions system. It eliminates the need to read street names as you will get more natural instructions when you must make a turn. You might be asked to make a turn right after the gas station and an icon of that gas station will appear for easy reference. Direct Access allows you to be more specific when navigating to a big point of interest. For instance, you can set a direct course to a place inside a mall and get its exact location or even floor. It can also locate the entrances closest to your destination, and even parking lots.
All of the features found in the 2014 Essential Line of Garmin nuvi devices are present in the Garmin nuvi 68LMT. The Up Ahead feature is still very useful as it constantly shows you what service POIs are in your vicinity. You decide what appears, so you can have restaurant, gasoline and ATM icons show up if you like, or even something else. A sidebar can also be brought up to bring up distance information regarding the nearest POI in each chosen category.
The nuvi 68LMT is also a reliable highway companion. The Lane Assist with Junction View never fails to bring up a closer look at the exit you have to take, along with the lane you must be in. If you ever approach a school, you will receive audible school zone warnings so that you can immediately adjust your speed. If you have the Garmin BC 30 wireless backup camera accessory sold separately for $169.99, the Garmin nuvi 68LMT screen can also show a rear view when you put the car in reverse.
Garmin did a great job cramming all these features in a nice 6-inch device, without driving up the price. If you don’t need the preloaded Canada maps, you can go for the nuvi 67LMT and save $10. The primary reason to go for something more expensive is if you want Bluetooth connectivity. As far as the navigation experience goes, the nuvi 68LMT will serve you well.
Update: You may also consider these newer models :