Garmin nuvi 255 GPS unit

Compact GPS ideal for consumers on a budget

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Garmin nuvi 255
  • Garmin nuvi 255
  • Garmin nuvi 255
  • Garmin nuvi 255
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5


  • Compact design, ease of use and operation, Where Am I help menu, Australian text-to-speech voices, preloaded speed and red light camera alerts


  • No Bluetooth, no FM transmitter, speaker volume lacks punch, unorthodox address input method, sluggish start-up time, average display

Bottom Line

Although it doesn't offer any advanced features like Bluetooth, the nuvi 255 features text-to-speech technology and provides a solid combination of excellent navigation and ease of use. If you can afford to splash out a bit extra though, we highly recommend choosing the widescreen model over this one.

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Garmin's nuvi 255 offers the same features as its widescreen counterpart, the nuvi 255W, but it has a smaller and lower resolution display and a cheaper price point. This makes it a viable option for those on a budget, commanding an RRP of under $300.

The nuvi 255 follows a similar format in terms of design and user interface as most of Garmin's other GPS units. This is good news for consumers, as the ease of use and simple map display will please most. A power slide key is the only button on the unit, with operation focusing entirely on the touch screen. A microSD card slot allows extra maps or other data to be uploaded, and a regular mini-USB connection handles charging and synchronising. Interestingly, microSD slots are normally reserved for mobile phones; this is only the second GPS units we’ve seen that uses microSD rather than regular SD cards.

The interface of the nuvi 265 is simple, bright and effective. Menu items are accompanied by either large boxes with text or clearly labelled graphic icons. Unfortunately, the display isn’t great; it does a reasonable job but if you can afford the extra cash for the widescreen model then we recommend getting it instead. Not only will you get a larger display, you’ll also get a better resolution, resulting in crisper images and a better overall navigational experience.

The main menu is very straightforward, with large icons for Where To and View Map, in addition to smaller icons for volume and tools. The unit can navigate to a specific address, a Point of Interest (POI), a recent location, a specific junction or your favourites. Like most of the Garmin range, it also allows you to directly input a specific GPS coordinate and features Where Am I — a convenient menu that shows your exact latitude and longitude as well as the nearest junction. You can also quickly find the closest hospitals, police stations and petrol stations in case of emergency.

Navigating to an address is simple enough, though Garmin still uses an unorthodox search order. Searches must be made in order of suburb, street number and then street name, but logically you should enter the street number after selecting the street and not before.

Despite its entry-level price point, the nuvi 255 includes text-to-speech technology, meaning it reads street names aloud. Two Australian text-to-speech voices (one male and one female) are included, and both pronounce most street names accurately. Like other Garmin units in this range the nuvi 255's speaker lacks punch. Because there is no built-in FM transmitter, there is no real way around this issue.

The nuvi 255 comes preloaded with City Navigator Australia NT and includes more than 600,000 POIs. Speed and red light cameras are preloaded onto the unit, but school zones and other safety alerts have to be downloaded from the Garmin Web site and then uploaded onto the unit. The 255 lacks Bluetooth connectivity, as it is an entry-level unit.

The nuvi 255 doesn't use the popular SiRF Star III GPS receiver; Garmin simply lists a receiver without providing further details. Thankfully, the unit's GPS performance is solid and rerouting times are in line with most other units. Our main complaint is reserved for the sluggish start-up time when you turn on the unit, an issue common with recent Garmin models.

Garmin rounds out the package by offering a number of extras, including a picture viewer, calculator, world clock and unit converter. There is no MP3 or video player.

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