The Garmin Nüvi 350 blew us away with its great feature set, its outstanding performance, its compact form factor, and its wallet-gouging price tag. All in all, we loved it. Now Garmin has come out with its successor, the Garmin Nüvi 360. It keeps all the great navigation, travel, and entertainment tools of the Nüvi 350 (as well as the expensive price tag: $964.27) but adds Bluetooth and an antitheft feature. The Garmin Nüvi 360 is expected to be available in June.
Upside: At 3.8 by 2.0 by 0.8 inches and 5.1 ounces, the Garmin Nüvi 360 is approximately the size of a deck of cards and is truly travel-friendly. But more amazing than its portability is how much Garmin crams into this handheld device. First, as we mentioned earlier, the Nüvi 360 comes with integrated Bluetooth, letting it act as a hands-free unit when paired with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. Also new is Garmin Lock, an antitheft feature that disables the device until the user enters a four-digit PIN. Other goodies include preloaded maps of North America, a 3.5-inch touch screen, and an SD expansion slot. Its navigation features include voice-guided directions, a points-of-interest database, automatic routing, text-to-speech functionality, and an optional traffic receiver. Of course, the beauty of the Nüvi line is that the devices double as travel guides. Its travel kit includes an MP3 player, an audiobook player from Audible.com, a JPEG picture viewer, a world clock with time zones, a currency converter, and more. Garmin offers two optional software packages (available on SD cards) to enhance the device's travel functionality: Language Guide ($75) and Travel Guide ($160). The former includes a multilingual word and phrase bank with support for nine languages and dialects, as well as five bilingual dictionaries. Thanks to the Nüvi's text-to-speech functionality, you can get a spoken pronunciation of each entry in the word bank. The Travel Guide provides reviews and recommendations for restaurants, attractions, and other points of interest.
Downside: Unfortunately, all these great features come at a price. At about $965, the Garmin Nüvi 360 ranks up there with the high-end in-car navigation systems. Although the base model is packed with features, the travel-reference tools and traffic receiver come at an additional cost. Also, traffic coverage is limited, as outlined on Garmin's Web site. Battery life will also be an issue with this multifunction device; Garmin claims the Nüvi has a battery life of between four to eight hours, depending on use.
Outlook: The Garmin Nüvi 360 is the ultimate traveler's tool, and if it weren't for its high price, we're sure the gadget would appeal to a large number of travelers. That said, we're still pretty excited to check out the new device and test-drive its Bluetooth functionality. Check back soon for a full review.