Nuvi 660 Portable GPS Review

nuvi660.jpgYesterday I purchased a new Garmin Nuvi 660 portable GPS receiver to use in my new vehicle. So far, I’m going to have to give this little unit a rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Things that are fantastic about this unit:

  • Garmin offers free software that allows you to load your own custom Points of Interest into the unit. You can then go to POI sites such as POI-factory.com and download free POIs to include in your device.
  • This GPS device voice announces streets by name. Most others simply say “Turn left ahead…”, but this one says “Turn left on President Bush Freeway in 1/4 mile…”. This means that you almost never need to even look at the unit.
  • The unit automatically dims the screen when the light goes down to save the strain on your eyes.
  • Nuvi will connect to a Bluetooth enabled cell phone and you can use it as a handsfree speakerphone. It will even let you dial out using a touchpad, voice commands (if supported by your phone), or directly to one of the built in Points of Interest phone numbers.
  • You can load MP3′s into either the available internal storage space on the device (over 600MB) or simply put it in a directory called MP3 on an SD card. You can then play them back while you are navigating and doing other things with the unit either through the built in stereo speakers – or you can broadcast them to an FM station for playback on your car’s stereo system.
  • It will even pause MP3 playback when it makes directional announcements or when you take a phone call through your Bluetooth phone.
  • Garmin offers an automated WebUpdater which noticed that my unit needed an upgrade and handled the transaction flawlessly.
  • The boot up and satellite acquisition times are very quick compared to other GPS units I’ve used.
  • The sound quality of the internal speakers is far better than any other GPS unit I’ve seen. The quality of sound transmitted through the vehicle stereo is good, and callers report that the voice quality through the speakerphone on the other end is quite good as well. Even while driving in a Titan at highway speed everything sounded fine on both ends of a call.
  • The screen quality is excellent and the touch sensitivity is perfect.
  • It is incredibly light. Not only is it small, but when you pick it up you expect it to be heavier than it is!

There are more nice features than this, but I’ll leave a little out so that future buyers can have a few pleasant surprises.

Things that could use a little work on this unit:

  • It is almost unforgivable that a $1,000 portable GPS unit doesn’t come with a printed manual. They only include the manual on the CD and also on the unit if you plug it into your PC and look on it’s internal storage. True, the device is very simple to use, but if you really want to get the most out of it you simply need a manual. In fact, I’d say this is the most feature-rich toy I’ve ever purchased that doesn’t include a manual.
  • The Travel Kit area on this device includes several extras such as the MP3 player, a World Clock, calculator, etc. Unfortunately you can’t remove unused icons. For example, there is an icon for SaversGuide, but if you don’t choose to purchase it for $50 per year you can’t get rid of the damn icon. The same goes for other costly built ins such as the Language Guide ($75) and Audible Book Player. Luckily the unit I purchased came with a free Travel Guide which is pretty useful.

The bottom line is that this is a costly little tool, but it can do a LOT of things to make your life better:

  • Use it as a wireless speakerphone for your bluetooth phone.
  • Play back MP3s from your personal collection while you’re driving around.
  • Navigate all over the country with ease, even routing around traffic incidents.
  • Find places to eat or things to do in the built in database.

In addition to the fact that the Nuvi is very feature rich, the thing I most appreciate is that every time I tried out one of the new features it just worked. I didn’t have to jack around with it to get it to work or anything. Nowadays gadgets that simply work exactly as advertised are rare, so this is something to really appreciate.

I give the Nuvi 660 a hearty thumbs up and highly recommend this to anyone that can justify the price.

UPDATE: Incidentally my first trip with this device, and the main reason I bought it, was to bring my new NSX home from San Francisco to Dallas. From California to Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and through Texas it never got a single turn wrong and inspired tremendous confidence.

This little GPS has also made its way from Dallas through Austin and all the way down to Big Bend National Park in Texas, and it’s navigated me around Pittsburgh, PA. So far it has proven to be more accurate and faster than GPS units I have (or have had) in my 05′ Nissan Titan, 02′ Infinity Q45, 02′ Acura CL Type S, or 06′ Honda Civic. Plus I can travel with it!




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  1. Karen

    I have a Nuvi 660 and the car charger is not charging any more. I found this out just before a trip out of town to Florida, a friend was wiggling the USB cord while attached and it would work intermittantly.

    It was a PAIN in the _ _ _ making sure the unit was charged during the day at work so I could use it at night & in the morning.

    I would just buy the cord ($14.00), but I’m afraid that the mounting unit into which I plug the USB cord might be the problem ($48.00 to replace this part)

    Would you say it’s more likely that it’s one or ther other that’s the problem. Either way I just want to get it overwith at once. I only use the unit when I’m in my car, would you recommend using the cord with the FM Transmitter for traffic? ($99.00)

    Any advise would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Karen

  2. toyfountain

    The Nuvi can be used while charging with a USB connection. The sync mode screen can be bypassed and the GPS can be operated while connected to a computer. The trick is to put it in test mode by pressing the battery icon for 5 seconds BEFORE connecting the USB. Once in test mode, then connect the USB. Then exit the test mode. The unit will shut down. Simply restart as if connected by the car’s 12V adaptor until the USB connection is disconnected.

    Credit goes to aophiuchus for finding this tip. See the Sun, 06/08/2008 – 5:33pm post
    http://www.poi-factory.com/node/1212

  3. Chris Harris

    qwerty keboard: Does anyone know how to install a qwerty keyboard onto the 660?

    Video: Is is possible to play any type of video on the 660?

  4. Patou

    Could you tell me where did you buy the cigarette lighter adaptor plug with USB end that operates and charges at the same time your Nuvi 660 without going into Sinc mode?
    What is it called?
    I realize that your review is a year old but maybe you or someone else can help.
    Thanks. Patou

  5. Ken Chu

    My Nuvi 660 also craps out after months of use, now the unit couldn’t find satellite, and is completely useless. I need to contact Garmin ASAP since my one year warranty also expires.

  6. Bob

    All mind does is search for the SATs but never finds them. Guess I will have to send it to them. It worked great for months then went nuts? It will plot a course and show it on the map but just can’t find the SATs?

  7. Bob

    I keep getting message that the signal has been lost. Anybody else have this. Have done the reboot and clear data by pressing upper left and right of screen along with holding the power button down. That doesn’t correct. Anybody else have this same problem?

  8. navair

    Tell Ed to speak with John Humes. The Battery to the Nuvi info. The Battery Pac is from Battery Geek and has only one female barrel plug on it, thus needing a Male Barrel plug on the cord….on the other end of the cord you’ll need a “mini USB” male plug …that will plug into the side of your Nuvi to provide sufficent power to continue to operate. In the middle of the cord there is a charging card that is in a (VERY SMALL PLASTIC BOX). This card was removed from the cigarette lighter adaptor at TAG, and placed in this small box that Tag provided. So the long and short of the cord is….(Male Barrel Plug….5″ cord….small plastic box for charging card…sprial cord with Mini USB Plug). This Battery Pac also as enough power to operate the Nuvi for about 2-3 days without a charge, with it’s 8000mv. My email address is bman@nothinbut.net , this way you can contact me direct for any additional info.
    As I explained on my second blog… this cord was made spiciffically for my needs and request, so there is no part number, however John will remember. I can call tomorrow and speak with Ed if you’d like? This way he’ll have an idea of what your asking for. Just let me know? Did you find the battery at Battery Geek? If you need the item number for the Battery let me know.

    Navair
    Fly Navy


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