We were still breathless after our 5-star review of Garmin’s nuvi 360 when Garmin announced what is much more than just a wide-screen version of the 360. Yes, Garmin has managed to do itself one better with the nuvi 660, with several new features that are smart and elegantly implemented, so much so as to inspire some owners to call it “the iPod of GPS navigation systems.” CNet’s editors say, “the Garmin Nuvi 660 is the ultimate traveler’s tool” and PC Magazine calls it, “the best in the shirt-pocket GPS category.”
The nuvi 660 distinguishes itself from the top-rated 360 with three major leaps forward:
- The most obvious difference in the 660 is its wider screen. The large, 4.3-inch display has a sharp resolution of 480 by 272 pixels (QVGA). It is bright (backlit) and readable even in bright sunlight. The screen is easy on the eyes and responds well as a touch screen, and the added real estate is most welcome.
- Like the nuvi 350 and 360, the nuvi 660 provides real-time traffic data and will optionally reroute you around heavy traffic. Traffic data are received via FM radio signals which required a separate external antenna plugged into the 350 and 360 units. Not so with the 660. The unit fully integrates the antenna internally, a great convenience to the frequent traveler and one less thing to fiddle with or lose.
- The nuvi 660 also distinguishes itself from its predecessors by including a built-in FM transmitter that allows you to listen to voice instructions, MP3 files, blue-tooth telephone calls, audio books, etc. through your car stereo.
The unit is, of course, wider and slightly thicker than the 350 and 360, but remains ultra-portable and well within the “shirt pocket” class of GPS navigation systems. Despite the wider screen and additional features, Garmin rates battery life between 3 and 7 hours (compared to 4 to 8 hours for the 350 and 360), depending on usage.
Like the nüvi 360, the 660 includes integrated Bluetooth capability. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled phone, the nuvi 660 functions as a wireless speakerphone, allowing you to place and receive calls through the unit. (See if your phone is compatible.) If you receive a call, Caller ID information appears right on your nuvi’s screen, a welcome safety feature keeping eyes forward, not fumbling for your handset. In addition, Garmin has nicely integrated the nuvi’s own points of interest (POI) database with the Bluetooth features. If you find a nearby hotel or restaurant on your nuvi, simply press “Call” and the nuvi will place the call right through your Bluetooth-connected phone. With its nuvi series Garmin has taken its blending of form and function to a new level, offering an elegant yet essential travel tool to the traveler. Like the 350, the slim 5-ounce nüvi 360 is sure to find its niche among frequent travelers who may find themselves finding their way through heavy traffic in Chicago on Tuesday and navigating the narrow sidewalks of Rome on Wednesday, with access to a spoken Italian Language Guide to boot (along with 8 other languages) along your stroll. Like the 360, this model also earned PC Magazine’s prestigious “Editor’s Choice” rating.
Like the 350 and 360, nüvi 660 also sports Garmin’s top-end GPS features, such as a brilliant touch screen, pre-loaded maps for North America, turn-by-turn directions, “text-to-speech” which reads street names out loud when announcing turns, and an integrated GTM10 traffic receiver for live traffic updates and automatic rerouting. It also uses the next-generation SiRFstar III GPS module which significantly improves reception and reduces the time for the unit to establish a satellite fix to calculate your position.
The preloaded City Navigator NT v.7 maps contain detailed road maps throughout the entire United States, Canada, & Puerto Rico.The unit is compatible with Garmin’s City Select map road maps, meaning that if your travels take you to Europe, South Africa, Australia, etc., you can purchase and
download those maps to your unit. The nüvi’s “Travel Kit” distinguishes it from standard GPS units, and includes the Language Guide mentioned above, a Travel Guide, which includes detailed information on points of interest (POIs), an MP3 player, an audio book player, a picture viewer, an SD card slot, and other tools, including a world clock, and converters for currency, temperature, measurements, etc.
The nuvi 660 measures 4.9 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches (WxHxD) and weighs a mere 6.2 ounces. (The 350 and 360 models measure 3.87 x 2.91 x 0.87 inches (WxHxD) and weigh 5.1 ounces.) The nuvi includes an SD memory card slot for expansion software, such as a points of interest database, media files and electronic guides.
With the nüvi, Garmin has defined a new niche in the GPS category. Compared to Apple’s iPod for its elegance and superb blending of form and function, owner reviews have been consistently positive and enthusiastic, with many 5-star ratings. As mentioned in the 360 review, one of the key attributes cited by owners is the great speed with which the nüvi finds and holds a satellite lock, thanks to the superior next-generation SiRF chip set inside. We thought it would be a challenge to improve upon the 360, especially so quickly, but with the 660 Garmin offers a truly practical tool for the frequent traveler, one where the bundle of feature truly makes sense. As with the 350 and 360, the only consistent downside we’ve seen owners express is the unit’s price, but if you’re a frequent traveler looking for an ultraportable navigation system that will make your travels easier without weighing you down, this 5-star unit is in a league of its own. [Full Review: 16 November 2006 © 2006 Rated4Stars.com; Updated 6 October 2007]
|Weight||6.2 ounces (190 g)|
|Dimensions||4.9"W x 2.9"H x .9"D (12.4 x 7.4 x 2.3 cm)|
|Screen|| 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm)
WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
|Chipset||SiRF Star III with 20-channel all-in-view; WAAS|
|In the Box||nüvi 650/660/670/680, Preloaded City Navigator® NT for North America (plus Europe on 670 model), FM traffic receiver with vehicle power cable (660, 670, 680 models), Vehicle suction cup mount*, Dashboard disc, USB cable, Quick start manual|
|Warranty||One Year Limited Warranty|