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Garmin Nuvi 250


Garmin has announced the Nuvi 250 which is in the middle of the entry level Nuvi 200 series. The Nuvi 250 is designed to be an extremely simple device, without many of the advanced options many people never use. I often get feedback from readers that a particular device would be a good match for them, but the price was a little high and they felt like they were paying for features they really didn’t need. The Garmin Nuvi 250 might be a perfect fit for them.

One of the changes for the Nuvi 200 series is that the flip-up antenna is apparently gone, replaced by an internal antenna. I’ve never been a fan for the flip-up antenna design so this is a welcome change.

Many of the PDA features in the rest of the Nuvi lineup have remained in the Nuvi 250 such as the world clock, calculator, unit converter, and the picture viewer. You can also load up Garmin’s additional paid content such as the Savers Guide and Travel Guide products.

The Nuvi 250 is designed to be an extremely simple device, without many of the advanced options many people never use.

The Garmin Nuvi 250 comes with a 3.5″ display, which is the standard among the entry level GPS devices, but still provides enough of a screen to ensure ease of navigation. There is an SD card slot for loading additional products and maps.

So, no Bluetooth, no traffic, no MP3 player, no FM transmitter, no widescreen display. However most people can probably get by just fine without those features. However there is something else that you might just want that is missing, text-to-speech. You will need to move up to the 300 or 600 series Nuvi to get that feature. If Garmin had included text-to-speech with the 250, this device would be untouchable in the entry level category, but it would have also likely cannibalized sales for the still popular 300 series. And most people will get by just fine without text-to-speech.

The separation between the Nuvi 200 series devices all comes down to maps. The 200 has just the continental contiguous USA plus Hawaii and Puerto Rico. With this model, the 250, you get North America. And if you are a more worldly traveler you might want to check out the 270 which comes with maps of North America plus Europe.

So what features are you missing out on that other, more expensive devices have? If Bluetooth hands free calling, traffic receivers, text-to-speech, or music players are of interest, you might want to move up the line from the Nuvi 200 series. However if those features are not something you would utilize and you need maps covering North America (beyond the US 48 and Hawaii), this device could be a perfect mix of the features you want without paying for features you may never use.

13 Responses

  1. To be honest, the Nuvi 250 works OK.
    And if this is your firs Garmin, you will probably be very happy with it.
    It is compact; it has all the good features of a Garmin: clear screen, intuitive operation, good routing engine and it is very well built.
    The Nuvi 250 is actually very similar to the Street Pilot C530 that was stolen from my car last August.
    And by the way stolen: always remove the GPS from the windshield BFORE you arrive to your designated parking spot.
    Mine was hidden in the car, but somebody saw when I removed it and where I put it. So they broke the window and went directly for the GPS.
    But let’s go back to the Nuvi.
    As I said it works fine. But after owning the C530, you can see a BIG difference.
    The 250 has no SiRf chipset for receiver and no WAAS capability (SiRF=the highest receiving sensitivity available on the market; WAAS=a system enhancing the positioning resolution from 10 to 2 meters).
    So the 250 is slower to react when you miss your turn, it may “think” you are on the service road when you really are on the highway and much worst, there are locations where the C530 had no problem to lock on satellites at 3-4 green lines and where the nuvi 250 will NEVER lock whatever you do. And this, in my opinion is BAD.
    It means Garmin cut the price but they also cut badly on performance and went back to the pre-SiRf era of low performance GPS receivers (like the Street Pilot C330).
    I believe Garmin can do whatever they want, but what I do not like is the fact that they are deceiving us by not stating this reality. On the 250 they state: high sensitivity receiver (?!). It is like saying: This car has a very big engine. Wow, very convincing!
    I think we should be the ones deciding how much we want to spend and for what level of performance. They should state that the 250 is an entry level GPS with an acceptable chipset that is less performing than the SiRf, and as such the lower price. This is a simple and fair statement.
    Personally, I bought the nuvi 350 for comparison and I found that for 100$ more, it is by far a better GPS, even if I don’t like too much the flip antenna feature; so I am returning the nuvi 250.
    I hope this helps.

    Dan - September 9th, 2007
  2. Dan, they state: high sensitivity receiver (?!) on all the nuvis, 250, 350, even the latest 760, (in the specs tab, Garmin site). So how can we know which chipset is on each model?

    Alek - November 15th, 2007
  3. Funny enough about the gps chipset…The Garmin 250 lost lock inside my house, at ground level while my bluetooth I-Blue 737 kept sat lock & has a faster cold start lock than the Garmin…

    mike - December 6th, 2007
  4. I bought my husband one for christmas and it is very slow to locate satellites. We leave our house and can make it to the highway which is approx. 3-5 miles befor it locates a satelite. I want to purchase a gps for my self but will look at other units.

    connie - January 8th, 2008
  5. Connie, check out this article for some tips.

    Tim - January 9th, 2008
  6. I just got the 250W and mine says POWERED BY SIRF. It seems to lock quickly and while the lack of WAAS may be missing it indicates accuracy mode of less than 20 feet. When I drive it to the front of the house it indicates my position within the width of the garage door. It also quickly knows when I missed my turn within a couple of seconds. I keep mine down at the bottom of the windshield so it has the clearest view of the sky. The only thing I have to gripe about is the poor quality of the manual. All the necessary stuff is indicated but there are so many more ways to use the features not mentioned in the manual that I have found in these blogs and just playing with the screen. THe cost performance of this unit is outstanding. Now if they would make a cheap bean bag mount.

    Gene - February 20th, 2008
  7. I wanted to download the 2009 map to my 250 but was unable to do. I was under the impression the first download was free. How do I get a free download?

    Richard - September 30th, 2008
  8. The first map update is not necessarily free. It depends on the date the device was first used, the model itself, and the version of the map installed. If you register the device at my.garmin.com it will tell you if your device qualifies for a free map update, or how to obtain a paid map update.

    Tim - September 30th, 2008
  9. Is there an option to turn on the current speed limit in the area you are driving? I know you can see your speed, but can you display the speed limit?

    sean - April 15th, 2009
  10. How do i update my Garmin nuvi 250 using a mini USB cable

    Anne Johnson - October 22nd, 2009
  11. I am in central Europe and have a Nuvi 250. IT SUCKS! I just bought the 2010 map updates thinking that would solve the problems and it didn’t do anything. I get on a main highway to go somewhere and it wants me off the highway and onto local roads. I’ve checked all the settings; Garmin has checked all the settings – and nothing. Everything is set correctly. The maps were installed properly but no, it does not function properly. On a recent trip I borrowed a friend’s TomTom and side by side the TomTom worked perfectly while the Garmin kept telling me to exit. WTF? I want my money back for the 2010 maps. How do I go about getting it back?

    John - December 15th, 2009
    • I had a garmin and loved it but when i updated the maps this year, it started taking me off the interstate and onto local roads extending my trips by hours.

      Kim - November 24th, 2011
  12. Nuvi 250 is a crap. I can say that because I’m a professional driver and I’m using it for at least few hours a day not just for occasional trips. Very often I need to input an address on the go (i.e. traffic lights) and at least once a day it freezes. There is nothing you can do, you have to press the power button for few seconds to turn it off and then turn on again. After this simple operation the unit forgets previous addresses (recent) so you have to do it again. It’s slow, they probably buying all the last century processors from nearest rubbish tips. The touch screen is not responding quick enough. I used to have Nuvi 310 for three years and I was very happy with it. Since it started to show me straight line to every address I choose I had to buy a new one. 250 is a mistake, not only theirs but mine as well. Now I’m researching the other two: Tom Tom and Navman. For me Garmin is gone.

    Waldek - December 28th, 2011

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