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Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS: Big Features, Big Price

At a Glance
  • Garmin Nuvi 680

    PCWorld Rating

    Boasts a bright screen, loads of features, and streaming audio through a car stereo, but the price is hefty.

In addition to the features you'd expect from a GPS device--clear on-screen and voiced navigation directions (including the mostly accurate pronunciation of street names), high-quality 3D maps, and a points-of-interest database--the Nuvi 680 offers a basic media player for viewing image and video files and for playing audio, including books downloaded from Audible.com. The device's Travel Kit also contains a language guide that pronounces words and phrases in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, translated to and from English (you can download other languages and guides for an additional fee).

You also get one free year of the MSN Direct service, which provides traffic and weather information, gas prices, and movie times via a receiver built into the Nuvi 680's 12-volt power adapter. After the first year you can pay a one-time fee of $130, or $50 a year. The traffic information is available in limited areas, and even in those regions you may not be covered.

For example, I selected the northernmost section of the San Francisco region only to find that I was about 10 miles outside the coverage area. It wasn't until I drove into the area that the MSN Direct information could download to the GPS. The initial download can take several hours, according to both Garmin and MSN, but I began receiving reports on traffic conditions along my route after only about an hour. When you encounter traffic the Nuvi 680 offers to route you around it, but I wouldn't have saved much time with the alternates it suggested. Still, this feature could come in handy.

Another nice extra is the Nuvi 680's Garmin Lock security feature, which lets you designate a four-digit PIN as well as a security location (such as your home). You must either enter the code or be at the security location to unlock the device.

On several occasions the Nuvi 680 delivered directions too late for me to follow them, while the Mio was more timely. This disparity occurred on both surface streets and the highway, while I used both products simultaneously.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Boasts a bright screen, loads of features, and streaming audio through a car stereo, but the price is hefty.

    Pros

    • Boasts a bright screen
    • Streaming audio through a car stereo

    Cons

    • Very hefty price
    • Spotty coverage
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