UPDATE: Though still available and supported, Garmin has discontinued the nuvi 660. For newer models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
I finally broke down and purchased a Garmin nuvi 660 a couple of weeks ago, and it has quickly become the favorite workhorse in my stable of GPS receivers. The nuvi 660 is a joy to use.
Before we get into the details of my review, lets look at other models in the nuvi 600 series. The nuvi 670 is identical to the 660, except that it adds European maps as well. The nuvi 680 uses MSN Direct services, giving you access to weather, fuel prices and movie times, in addition to the 660's live traffic.
Going the other direction, the nuvi 650 loses some features, leaving off Bluetooth and the FM transmitter, and making traffic an add-on option (instead of including a traffic receiver in the purchase price). For details on other models, check out our Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
Now, back to the nuvi 660...
A user-friendly design and intuitive interface
Garmin has always shined when it came to the user interface, and the nuvi 660 is no exception. For example, when you want to route to an address, you begin to enter the city, and once it is narrowed down to a few choices, they pop up on the screen. This often happens after entering only a few characters. The same thing occurs when you enter the street name — enter a few characters and your choices are listed.
Want to save an address as a favorite? It even defaults to title case when you enter a name, so that you get “Joe Smith,” rather than “joe smith” or “JOE SMITH.”
There are many such examples of the nuvi’s user-friendly interface; here are just a few more:
You can tap a location on a map screen and a “Go” button pops up, allowing you to easily route to a location from the map screen.
When you view a destination, the map automatically switches to a 2–D view.
When you select “Where to,” you are given a “Near” option. Selecting this gives you the options below, which come in quite handy.
If you are a geocacher, you may appreciate the multiple coordinate formats you can use.
Maps and routing
The nuvi 660 did an excellent job of routing, with no major hiccups along the way. It has a recent highway near my in-laws in Michigan that has been missing from previous GPS receivers that I’ve tried there.
Some reviewers have complained that you cannot route to multiple destinations, either on the nuvi or through MapSource — you can only enter one Via along a route. This is true, but the nuvi’s interface is so simple that it really doesn’t matter. You can always plug in locations before your trip and then use “Recently Found” to select them. When you select a new destination while already enroute to one, you are given the choice to “Set as new destination” or “Insert in route as via point,” as shown below.
I LOVE this feature. It’s so nice to have a screen in front of me so I can see what’s playing. The nuvi 660 pauses the music when giving voice directions.
I work only a few miles from my home, in a town of 6,000 people, so I don’t exactly need my nuvi when I go to work, but there it is, every day. And it’s great having it stream over my car stereo speakers, which brings me to the…
This is another feature some people have griped about, and it does seem a little weak in terms of power. Many people have reported problems with vehicles that have a rear antenna, saying it is too far away from the nuvi to get a decent signal. I haven’t had much trouble with this feature, even though my antenna is embedded in my rear windshield. Granted, I’m driving a Toyota Camry and not a stretch limo, but it hasn’t been much of a problem for me.
I’m also quite pleased with the Bluetooth feature. It worked with my phone, even though it isn’t listed by Garmin as a compatible model. And it took two tries, but on the second it even grabbed my phone book.
The microphone however, leaves a lot to be desired. The sound quality is horrible. I’m going to pick up an external microphone and give that a try, though I hate the idea of wires.
The nuvi 660 comes with a traffic receiver with three months of free service. After that, 15 months runs $60. The service is automatically activated the first time you receive an FM traffic signal while operating the nuvi connected to the traffic receiver (which is part of the 12V power adapter). I haven’t had a lot of time in the city yet to try out this feature, but hope to amend this review in the near future with more info on the traffic receiver.
The mount is very well designed. If you mount it squarely on a clean windshield, you’re going to have a heck of a time removing it!
My nuvi has locked up on me once, and I was pleased to discover an easy to access reset button underneath the antenna. And it didn’t even lose any data.
What’s not to like
Well, there’s not a lot. The worst thing in my mind? Once I hit the power button, it takes my unit 26 seconds to load maps and get past the splash screen. You could quibble a little about the FM transmitter, internal microphone and the fact that routing is limited to one via, but in the end, this is a rock solid unit.
More Garmin nuvi 660 reviews
- Dozens of consumer reviews of the nuvi 660 have been posted at GPSNow.
- There are hundreds of Garmin nuvi 660 reviews from satisfied buyers at Amazon.
- GPSInformation.org does their usual thorough job in this Garmin nuvi 660 review.
- GPS Lodge has posted a detailed Garmin nuvi 660 review, saying it is the best GPS they have ever used.
- GPS Magazine posts an incredibly comprehensive Garmin nuvi 660 review, giving it their current Editor's Choice award.
- CNet has posted a Garmin nuvi 660 review, giving it an 8.3 out of 10. There are user reviews posted there too.
- PC Magazine gave an Editor's Choice award in their Garmin nuvi 660 review, awarding it 4-1/2 out of 5 possible points.
- Pocket-Lint gives an 8 out of 10 rating in their nuvi 660 review.
- Technical Itch reviews the nuvi 660.
- One Man's Blog posts their Garmin nuvi 660 review.
- YourNav, a European site with a strong emphasis on TomTom, has posted a very favorable nuvi 660 review.
- Bios also gives an Editor's Choice award in their Garmin nuvi 660 review.
- Here's a Garmin nuvi 660 review from a motorcyclist's perspective.
- Tech.co.uk gives a European perspective in their review of the Garmin nuvi 660.
- Personal Computer World gives a 4 out of 5 star rating in their nuvi 660 review.
- Ubergizmo's nuvi 660 review includes a video review.
- Unisys's CIO weighs in on the Garmin nuvi 660.
- A personal review of the Garmin nuvi 660.
- Jeff Handley has posted his own Garmin nuvi 660 review.
- Here's a detailed Garmin nuvi 660 review from Associated Content.
- Phanatsmablogia also reviews the nuvi 660.
- Here's a nuvi 660 video review:
I'll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some
- Garmin has posted a flash demo of the nuvi 660.
- A PDF version of the Garmin nuvi 660 owners manual.
- There is a nuvi message forum at GpsPasSion.com.
- Here are Garmin nuvi 660 specifications.
- And here is Garmin's nuvi 660 accessories page.
- There are now so many models in the nuvi line, that it's easy to get confused about the differences. To help with that, I've put together a Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
- Or check out Garmin's auto GPS comparison page.
- GPS Information.org has a nice comparison of the nuvi 760 vs. nuvi 660, with lots of screen shots and a good description of the new 700 series features.
Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 660 at these merchants:
- Find the current Garmin nuvi 660 price at Amazon.com.
- Check out TigerGPS for a great deal on the Garmin nuvi 660 Portable Bluetooth Automotive GPS System, where you get free shipping on orders above $250.
- Get the Garmin nuvi 660 for an amazing price on eBay.
- Check out our GPS deals site for current specials and rebates on a wide range of GPS receivers
- Scroll down for more live price comparisons
From the official Garmin nuvi 660 web page:
See more and explore with nüvi 660.
This widescreen travel companion and navigator features preloaded maps, hands-free calling, traffic alerts, FM transmitter and more. Like the rest of the wide nüvi 600-series, its large touchscreen display puts the world at your fingertips.
With nüvi 660's widescreen display, you'll always get the big picture. View map detail, driving directions, photos and more in bright, brilliant color. Its sunlight-readable, 4.3-inch display is easy to read — from any direction.
Navigate With Ease
nüvi 660 comes ready to go right out of the box with preloaded City Navigator® NT street maps, including a hefty points of interest (POIs) database with hotels, restaurants, fuel, ATMs and more. Simply touch the color screen to enter a destination, and nüvi takes you there with 2D or 3D maps and turn-by-turn voice directions. It even announces the name of exits and streets so you never have to take your eyes off the road. In addition, nüvi 660 accepts custom points of interest, such as school zones and safety cameras and lets you set proximity alerts to warn you of upcoming POIs. The European version even includes a preloaded safety camera database containing the location of safety cameras for parts of Europe.
Make Hands-free Calls
Talk about worry-free driving. nüvi 660 integrates Bluetooth® wireless technology with a built-in microphone and speaker, so you can pair it with your compatible Bluetooth phone and talk hands-free through the 660 while staying focused on the road. Simply dial numbers with nüvi's touchscreen keypad to make a call. To answer calls, just tap nüvi's screen and speak directly into its built-in microphone. You can also easily look up and dial numbers from your personalized phone book or from your phone’s call history log. With 1-touch dialing for points of interest (POIs), you can conveniently call ahead for reservations or information.
Avoid Traffic Tie-ups
Steer clear of traffic with nüvi 660's integrated FM TMC traffic receiver. Receive alerts about traffic tie-ups and road construction that lie ahead on your route. Next, simply touch nüvi's screen to view traffic details or detour around the problem area.
Take It With You
Like the rest of the nüvi series, nüvi 660 sports a sleek, slim design and slips comfortably in your pocket or purse. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery makes it convenient for navigation by car or foot.
Go Beyond Navigation
Navigation is just the beginning. nüvi 660 includes many “must have” entertainment and travel tools including MP3 player, audio book player (subscription to Audible.com required), JPEG picture viewer, currency converters and more. With nüvi 660's wireless FM transmitter*, you can hear audio, including voice prompts, MP3s and audio books, through your vehicle's stereo. It also comes with Garmin Lock™, an anti-theft feature, and is compatible with our free Garmin Garage where you can download custom vehicles that show your location on the map. Optional plug-in SD cards let you add additional features to enhance your travel experience including language translation and detailed travel guides. Our SaversGuide® provides information on nearby merchants offering discounts to customize your nüvi whether you’re traveling or close to home.
* FM transmitter feature is only available in North America, Europe FM, France FM, Australia and New Zealand versions.