Unless we're talking about one of the high-end 3000-series Garmin models, it's pretty much impossible to distinguish one Garmin car GPS from another. Gather a posse of Garmin units together, and besides screen size, there's little to set them apart, as most feature a rubberised body and an inset resistive touchscreen bounded by a glossy black bezel. In amongst this coterie of navigators, you'll no doubt find a Nuvi 2455LM, the entry point to the brand's mid-range set of 2012 GPS devices.
Fire up the 2455LM, and long-time Garmin aficionados might notice a few changes to the interface that still features the brand's oversized "Where To?" and "View Map" icons on the main screen. The company has finally seen fit to split its suite of mini-apps (Help, EcoRoute, Audible, TripPlanner, Picture Viewer, Where I've Been, World Clock, Alarm Clock, Last Spot, Calc, Unit Converter and Language Guide) from the unit's battery of settings. Settings and Apps now have their own small icons on the main screen, meaning that tweaking the Nuvi to your personal taste is no longer quite as time consuming.
Garmin has also given the main "Where To?" menu a once over, but the results are a little less successful. There's now a search bar at the top of the screen, but unfortunately it's limited to searching for points of interest (banks, parks, stations and the like). This is a shame, really, as a Navman-style street-name search or freeform address entry, for example "42 Tarragon St, Mile End", would be handy.
Three shortcut buttons (by default Categories, Favourites and History) live to the side of a streamlined grid of functions (Go Home, Address, Restaurants, Petrol Stations, Shopping and Personalise). If, like this writer, you're likely to enter many destinations via cross-streets, you'll have to hit the Personalise button and rearrange things a bit — you'll also find buttons for the missing town and coordinate searches here, too.
So what does the recommended retail price of AU$229 get you? There's the usual bevy of features, including spoken street names, multi-stop routes, lane guidance for most roads in Australia's capital cities and realistic junction view overlays for large intersections, as well as motorway entrances and exits. As always with a Garmin device, New Zealand maps are thrown in gratis — which is handy if you're planning on heading across the ditch.
What you do miss out on is traffic messaging, although you can acquire that for an extra AU$30 if you splash out on the otherwise identical Nuvi 2455LMT. For a unit asking north of AU$200, the more glaring omission is Bluetooth hands-free. The cheapest way you'll get that functionality in this year's Garmin range is to fork out AU$299 for the Nuvi 2495LMT.
The justification for the unit's AU$70 price premium over the similarly specified TomTom Via 220 is hinted at in the unit's LM suffix — lifetime map updates for the term of your Garmin's natural life. Map updates are downloaded via Garmin's website, and loaded onto the GPS via a web browser plug-in. If you live near new housing or infrastructure development, or you're looking to keep your GPS for more than a few years, or you just happen to be the type of person who can't live without the latest mapping data, then the AU$70 premium will be money well spent.
Earlier this year, Garmin announced that it is switching the source of its Australian maps from long-time provider Whereis to Navteq. This development is rather concerning, given that in the past, we've criticised products that use Navteq's Australian maps because they lack the same level of accuracy and detail found on GPS units sporting Whereis data.
Thankfully, Navteq's recent updates have narrowed the gap considerably between the two sets of maps. Unlike earlier Navteq implementations, the Garmin Nuvi 2455LM features lane guidance for most multi-lane intersections and didn't ask us to turn right or, even worse, make a u-turn on a major road where these acts are clearly forbidden. Indeed, during our time with the Nuvi 2455LM in and around Sydney, the number of mapping errors we encountered was around the same level that we've seen on recent Whereis-powered devices.
The 2455LM also features safety, red-light and speed camera locations, but camera coverage is spotty at best. Some camera locations are missing entirely, while others only pop up with alerts when travelling from certain directions. Also present on the device are speed limits for most capital city roads and streets, as well as school-zone locations. The boffins at Garmin HQ should be applauded for removing the annoying "route recalculation" warning that used to assail our ears every time we dared to venture off the suggested path. Alas and alack, Garmin insists on hiding most side streets by default, which can make following the unit's instructions rather difficult.
As far as routing efficiency and proficiency go, the latest generation of Garmin Nuvi units produces no great advances. It will successfully route you from A and Z and all points in between, but it mightn't do so in the most efficient manner, nor in the most humanly logical way. As with most other devices, the 2455LM has a preference for main roads, which can be reassuring when you're venturing into unknown suburbs.
For those looking for a car GPS that will remain current for years and years to come, the Garmin Nuvi 2455LM's lifetime map updates are worth the price premium. For others, though, there are cheaper or better-featured alternatives that do the job just as well.