The unassuming Nuvi 250 might be the very embodiment of what Garmin is trying to achieve with the Nuvi range: namely, something a little more than just sat-nav.
To do this, it set up the Nuvis as travel companions, with paid-for extras like city guides, currency converters and foreign phrasebooks supplied on SD card. Useful functions, but we imagine that most consumers feel self-conscious brandishing the larger Nuvis in public. Especially in a strange city.
The perfect size
The Nuvi 250, though, is a lot smaller and, with its rounded corners, integrated GPS aerial and glitz-free design, could easily pass as a generic device. Like, indeed, an electronic phrasebook.
So, the 250 proves itself as being more useful than just sat-nav. But is it useful as a sat-nav? Its simple, light design and uncomplicated windscreen mount make it easy to get in position.
It's quick to start up, and as with all kit equipped with the SirfStar III GPS chipset, quick to establish its position. At start-up, the Nuvi faces you with just two options: 'Where to?' or 'View map'. This ease of use is continued throughout the menus and once navigation begins.
The maps are heavily stylised, with your route marked with a bold coloured line. This makes the information marked on the 250’s small screen clear to see, but it can confuse complex junctions or roundabouts.
Clear voice instructions
Fortunately, the spoken instructions are comprehensive enough to clear up most confusion, and it handled complex one-way gyratory road systems about as well as we’ve seen.
There’s little auxiliary information on-screen while you drive: no information about upcoming petrol stations or other POIs, other than on-map icons. Plus, apart from the travel tools, there are few bells and whistles – no Bluetooth, no TMC traffic updates, and no MP3 playback.
Still, at this price, these features aren’t expected. The Nuvi is a small, but capable sat-nav that handles the basics well, and justifies its optional travel guide features better than other models in the range.