Driving Directions at Your Fingertips

A touchscreen changes GPS for the better.

Photograph by David Bashaw

Dedicated portable navigation systems are fantastic, but they’ve been hamstrung by the process of plugging in addresses using a scroll pad. GPS granddaddy Garmin has leapfrogged the cumbersome data-entry issue by adding a touchscreen to its new 2650 ($1,400).

In terms of input it beats any portable GPS we’ve used, but we still hit a few snags. With a 3.3″x1.7″ screen, audio prompts are key–but telling us about them 50 miles away is overkill. It also lost GPS reception in city canyons–not a big surprise for a portable unit (wired into your car, the 2650 can use your odometer to keep you on track). The touchscreen elevates it above the pack, but it’s still just shy of the
removable GPS of our dreams.