Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Traffic
Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Traffic: GPS navigator with a 6.95” display, hands-free calling, included traffic alerts and information to enrich road trips
I purchased the Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Traffic after going from a Garmin Nuvi to using just a cellphone as my primary navigation tool. The cellphone navigation systems are great, but I found myself missing the convenience of standalone navigation units. Specifically, I didn’t like the following aspects of navigation with a cellphone:
1) Not being able to easily see the navigation apps when manually using the phone for a phone call.
2) Lack of navigation when without cellular coverage; such as when in the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains…unless you pre downloaded offline maps with Google Maps, or used a different app.
3) The offline maps for Google never seemed to work right for me, there seemed to always be a problem with resolution that I could not resolve despite multiple attempts. Additionally, I could not get offline mode to always work in general. I tried some of the other free offline navigation apps, but they seemed to be behind in updates, and did not seemed refined, leaving me with a slight but ever present apprehension in my mind.
4) I did not like the small screen size when in portrait mode, despite having an iPhone Plus.
5) Whenever I needed to do something with my cellphone, such as use an app, the navigation app had to run in the background and inherently not visible to view.
6) I missed all the readily visible trip info functions that the Garmin vehicle navigators offered; such as elevation, time remaining until destination, arrival time, and total miles until destination, etc. (The app navigators had similar trip info but was not easily visible like the Garmin).
HARDWARE: The screen beautiful! Great resolution and bright. (I keep the brightness turned up all the way). The 6.9 inch is the perfect size for me since I like to have all of the trip data functions showing on the screen at all times while allowing for ample space for the map/navigation which is the most important part. The screen seems to be made of glass, and hopefully scratch resistant as glass should be, but I’m not sure. There is minimal bezel in the frame which adds to visual appeal but makes accidental touches easy when trying to adjust the postition/angle of the unit on the mount. The screen is responsive to touch and there is little lag navigating through the menus, as it should be for a device at this price point. Speaker is loud and clear, even with my poor hearing. I do not know what processor is in the unit, but hopefully it is an upgrade from last year’s model. I figure it is smart to get the best hardware within your means, especially if you plan on keeping the device for several years, to ensure it will be able to effectively run the software updates. I do not like how the power cord plugs into the back of the device, as all the Garmins do. It would be nice if it plugged into the side or bottom, because having a power cord sticking out the back is inhibitive to custom mounting the device flat up against something or laying it on its back when updating software or working with it on a desk. The mount is standard Garmin, which works OK for mounting on a window, but in my experience always seems to eventually lose it suction ability and falls off the windshield. For this reason I purchased one of Garmin’s friction dash mounts which seems to work ok for now. Battery is rated at 1 hour, but I have not had it disconnected from a power source for that long when using it so I cannot state my findings.
SOFTWARE: Very effective and easy to use. It seems that Garmin’s years of production in this industry has allowed time for working out most bugs. The high detail map option provides a lot of detail as the name implies, and the topographic-like map is helpful in keeping the user oriented from a geographical perspective. There is a zoom in/out capability on the map like all Garmins have, but unfortunately when zooming out with the intention to use it that way indefinitely, the unit will automatically zoom you back in to the default setting, as if it does not really want you to have full reign on the feature. Tou can sync your phone to the unit with Bluetooth, allowing you to have phone notifications for email/text/etc to show on the Garmin. Additionally the device shows weather and allows the option to make and receive phone calls when synced to your phone, for those that may need such a feature. The unit has WiFi capability for updating software and maps without the need for a computer. However after attempting to update the maps 4 times through this manner, I got error an error code each time and the the device aborted the process. Perhaps it is because my internet connection is not super-high-speed but In not sure. It will be nice to see if many other people have the same issue. Regardless, the maps will have to be updated via syncing with a PC.
CONCLUSION: The device delivers good performance as expected from Garmin. Accurate navigation and excellent native route planning. Screen is excellent, bright and high resolution for a navigator. Size is right in the sweet-spot. Price is a lot more than the lower end Garmins, and I am not convinced that the features this unit offers are practical enough to justify the higher cost. Considering the screen and great performance, if the processor is better than what is found in last year’s model, this is a good value.
VERDICT: Nice to have a stand-alone navigator again and don’t have to use my phone as my main navigation. Happy with the purchase despite the matters I mentioned above. Would buy again, and recommend this to anyone looking for a great stand alone navigator.Promised Review By Michael Mossy