Garmin nvi 5000 Review

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$799

Pros: Jumbo 5.2-inch screen; Large, easy-to-read menus and maps; Music and photo abilities; Pronounces street names

Cons: No Bluetooth or European maps; Terrible FM transmitter; Requires an add-on for live traffic; No internal battery

Verdict: The GPS naviagtor's extra-large 5.2-inch display makes a big difference, if you're willing to pay a big price.

What's the big picture worth to you? Not long ago, 3.5-inch screens were the standard for GPS devices, and then 4.3-inch screens quickly took over. Now we're seeing the first 5.2-inch screen in the Garmin nvi 5000. While at first it seems almost too large, Garmin uses the extra space well to provide an easier driving experience. Those who have trouble reading small text--along with RV owners, whose PNDs are typically mounted farther away--will appreciate the extra space. However, $799 is a lot to pay for a navigator these days, and you don't get a lot more beyond the extra real estate for your money.

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Big and Uncluttered View

The screen might be large, but Garmin has done its best to keep everything else slim. The nvi 5000 is only 0.8 inches thick and weighs 9.3 ounces--which means it's still quite a bit smaller than the Dash Express. It offers a shiny black-and-silver casing that should look elegant in any car.

When we first heard about the nvi 5000, we wondered if the large screen would be crammed with too much information, making navigation more difficult. We're happy to say that Garmin kept the menus and maps nicely sparse and used that extra room to make graphics and text larger. Even better, the larger screen doesn't attract more glare.

Ease of Use

The main menu offers two large options--Where to? and View Map--plus two smaller buttons to access volume and the tools menu. That makes it a simple interface at any size. Map views are easy to decipher, with the next direction along the top (usually written in sentence form, such as "Turn left on Centre St.") and your arrival time and next turn distance on the bottom. You can tap different areas of the map to pull up turn-based directions or a trip information page.

nvi 5000 Features

The screen seems to be the sole reason for the nvi 5000's supersized $799 price tag. Typically, a navigator at this price would have Bluetooth; the nvi 5000 lacks this as well as a battery. That means you can only use it while it's plugged into your car's cigarette lighter port and your car is running.

The nvi 5000 does have a few extras, though. Connect it to your Mac or Windows computer via USB to drag in MP3s or JPEGs. Pictures looked fantastic on the large 800 x 480-pixel screen and showed great detail and rich colors. The music player is basic, with Repeat and Shuffle controls, and the device itself offers nearly 500MB of free storage. While the nvi 5000 has an FM transmitter for enjoying music over the car stereo, it performed terribly in our testing. We could just barely make out songs through the static.

Voices and Other Extras

The device offers only one American English voice that pronounces street names, although British and Australian voices are also available for English, plus there's a French language voice as well. Garmin said that by mid- to late April, all nvi 5000 owners will be able to add all of the voices that other nvi models have, with the exception of Arabic and Asian languages.

Drivers with a backup camera will like that the nvi 5000 can connect to it with an A/V adapter cable ($18, not included), but we were unable to test this feature. The nvi 5000 can also pull in traffic data with the optional Garmin GTM 20 ($214) or MSN Direct Receiver ($124).

GPS Performance

Garmin is reliably strong at providing navigation, and following routes with the nvi 5000 was a pleasure. Maps were attractive and easy to understand, and directions were always clear. After a missed turn, rerouting took just a few seconds. Drivers can save frequently used routes and add new destinations to existing routes in seconds. A "Where Am I?" button lets people find emergency services quickly. Avoidance settings let drivers specify shady areas or roads to route around.

The nvi comes preloaded with 6 million points of interest, which is average. As with other Garmin devices, we found the database a little out-of-date; it listed a few restaurants in our neighborhood that have been closed for more than three years. A Garmin representative said that information is provided by Navteq and is updated once a year. We asked Navteq about this, but the company has not yet provided a response.

Garmin nvi 5000 Verdict

While the extra-large screen is nice, the high price and lack of Bluetooth make the nvi 5000 best for those who absolutely need a bigger display. If your eyes aren't failing, you could make do with the V7 Nav740, which has a 4.3-inch display, offers an up-to-date 11 million-POI database, and is less than half the price of the nvi 5000.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Wi-Fi No
Bluetooth No
Touch Screen No
USB No
Serial No
Size 5.7 x 3.7 x 0.8 inches
Weight 9.3 ounces
Company Website http://www.garmin.com