Review of Garmin 255W GPS - A Top Budget GPS Navigator?

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GPS navigators are excellent products if you are on the go, and Garmin is one of the top manufacturers of GPS navigation products in the world. Garmin’s success is not coincidental, even the budget products perform excellently and are packed with lots of additional features. In this review, we’ll take a look at the Garmin Nuvi 255W.

Specifications (4 out of 5)

The Garmin Nuvi 255W measures 12.2 x 7.4 x 2.0 cms (W x H x D) and comes with a 4.3” touch screen. The display resolution is 480 x 272 and weighs about 170 grams, making it a little bit heavier than a smartphone. The battery life is 4 hours, and it was a very nice thought by Garmin to include a car charger in the box.

However, the Nuvi 255W does not use the high-performance SirfSTAR III receiver and surprisingly there is no clue about the receiver chipset used in the device. You can not even find the chipset by going to the About menu.

Design (4 out of 5)

Garmin Nuvi 255W

The Garmin Nuvi 255W feels solid when you hold it, and it does not have the cheap product feel by any means. The whole screen is viewable from a large angle and the images on the screen are vivid and crisp. The SD card slot is located on the left of the device and the ON/OFF button is placed at the back. You turn on the device by sliding the button. The mini USB slot is at the back of the unit. However, prepare your USB cable because you will not receive it in the box.

The vehicle mount is a standard mount found in almost every GPS navigation unit. You secure the device to the window with a suction. There is a point that I want to make here. If you place the GPS unit on the front window you lose a lot of sight, because there is also the rear view mirror. Why don’t manufacturers think about an alternative placement on the dashboard which will not block the driver’s view?

Features (4 out of 5)

The Garmin Nuvi 255W has voice capability but cannot be commanded with voice. It has a huge number of POI (Points of Interest) built in and you can add up to 1000 additional ones. You can also set proximity alerts when you are approaching a POI. You also have speed limits and the current speed indicators on the screen.

The 255W also has an emergency button on the menu, which receives your exact coordinates (latitude and longitude), displays the nearest address and intersection, and feeds you with the nearest police station, hospital and gas stations. This is a very handy feature if you get lost.

Garmin Nuvi 255W - Send Maps to GPS

The Nuvi 255W also has the ability to view JPEG files. This comes very handy together with Google’s Panoramio if you plan your trip ahead of time. You can set your GPS unit to navigate you to the points where the photos are taken. You can even send addresses to the unit from Google Maps or Mapquest. In addition, there is an optional MSN Direct Connect to feed you the web favorites, local events and news headlines.

As is the standard with all GPS units, the Garmin Nuvi 255W has an auto re-route function (recalculate the route to your destination if you happen to go off calculated route), route avoidance (such as highways and tolls), choice of route (fastest, shortest, eco, etc.) and the ability to receive traffic alerts. However if you have more than one waypoint on the way, it does not show the most direct route. It was a surprise for me, because this is just an additional simple calculation that the device could make. I wonder why Garmin did not offer this feature. Plus, I would very much like to have a car locator feature.

As with the competition in the GPS arena, manufacturers are making the mp3 and audio book reading standard in their budget lines. These features are not found in Nuvi 255W. Also XM Navtraffic and Radio for U.S. are not supported.

Price to Performance (5 out of 5)

The Garmin Nuvi comes in at USD 173 and the MSN Direct Lifetime Subscription runs USD 130 at With this value and the features offered, the Garmin Nuvi 255W offers an excellent price to performance value. The device has a one-year limited warranty.

Overall Evaluation (5 out of 5)

I found Garmin Nuvi 255W a very good unit for beginner to intermediate GPS users. As it is a budget level GPS navigator, Bluetooth, FM Radio and voice commands are not present but these features all add to the price and would shift the unit from the budget level to the medium-price level. I can safely recommend the Garmin Nuvi 255W, especially considering its price to performance.