Garmin Nuvi 500 review: Garmin Nuvi 500

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.7
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Garmin Nuvi 500 is a multiuse GPS that can be used in the car, on foot, on a bike or a boat. It comes loaded with topographic maps and features a waterproof casing.

The Bad The Nuvi 500 lacks text-to-speech functionality. Satellite acquisition time was a bit slow. A USB cable is not included in the box, and marine maps are extra.

The Bottom Line The Garmin Nuvi 500 is a satisfactory multimode GPS, but serious boaters and outdoor enthusiasts should consider dedicated devices.

Editors' Top Picks

There are many uses for GPS beyond in-car navigation. After all, there are times you could use some route guidance no matter what mode of transportation. Yet, you don't see too many multiuse GPS on the market, and we're beginning to see why. A while back we took a look at the Magellan CrossoverGPS, an all-in-one portable navigation device for car, boat, and foot. It was fine but limited in what it could offer boaters and hikers; plus, it was a sluggish performer. The newer Garmin Nuvi 500 is also a hybrid GPS, and it offers a better design and user interface than the CrossoverGPS with faster performance to boot. It's not bad for very casual use, but again, the capabilities are a bit limited when you get into other modes aside from the car. If you're a serious hiker, geocacher, or boater, we'd recommend getting a dedicated device. The Garmin Nuvi 500 is available now for $499.99.

Design
The overall design of the Garmin Nuvi 500 fits right in with the rest of the Nuvi series. It sports a compact rectangular shape and comes in a charcoal gray color. Given that it has multiple uses, the device is slightly thicker and heavier than other Nuvi models, but it's still small at 4.2 inches wide by 3.3 inches tall by 0.9 inch deep and weighs 7.6 ounces. Plus, it's sleeker than the Magellan CrossoverGPS, and also features a waterproof casing.

On front, there's a 3.5-inch QVGA touch screen with a 320x240-pixel resolution. Some might complain about the smaller display size, but we understand that some sacrifices had to be made for portability since the Nuvi 500 is also designed for use on foot and on a bicycle. As with other Garmin GPS, the Nuvi 500 has an easy-to-use interface and all the onscreen icons are large and clearly identified. To switch vehicle types, there is an icon at the top of the main page that you can tap to cycle through the various modes. There will be an icon that corresponds to each one; for example, a car for driving, a person for walking, and so forth.

There's a power button on top and a battery release slider key on the left side. Behind the battery, there is a microSD expansion slot where you can add additional maps. A mini USB port is also located on the back.

The Garmin Nuvi 500 comes packaged with a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a car charger, a USB cable, and reference material. The car mount is easy to install and held the unit securely during our test drives. We do wish, however, a bicycle mount and USB cable were included in the box.

Features
As noted earlier, the Garmin Nuvi 500 is a multiuse GPS with modes for car, pedestrian, bicycle, and boat. The system comes preloaded with City Navigator NT street-level maps of the United States, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as U.S. topographic maps. If you're a boater, unfortunately, marine maps are not included in the package, but you can load BlueChart g2 Vision and Inland Lakes Vision marine maps via microSD card.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy

Garmin Nuvi 500

Part Number: 010-00700-10

MSRP: $699.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Features anti-glare
  • Weight 7.6 oz
  • Maps Included Puerto Rico
  • Product type GPS receiver
  • Voice navigation instructions
  • Run Time (Up To) 8 hours
  • Recommended Use automotive
About The Author

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.