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Garmin Nuvi 550 Review

The Garmin Nuvi 550 is a compact and capable car GPS if you can find it for sale.

Garmin nuvi 550
(Image: © Amazon)

Our Verdict

If you can't decide between a navigation GPS or a recreational GPS, the Garmin Nuvi 550 offers a decent combination between the two. It's compact, easy to use, and waterproof, but now that it's been discontinued, might prove a little tricky to find.

For

  • Compact design
  • Waterproof

Against

  • No Bluetooth option
  • Discontinued

The Garmin Nuvi 550 is the perfect GPS for anyone who loves driving, hiking, boating, or doing long distance motorcycle trips. Indeed, there might even have been a niche for it as the best car navigation system if it hadn't been discontinued and was still widely available. 

Garmin Nuvi 550 Review: Features

The Garmin Nuvi 550 is a decent navigation GPS for your car but also a lot more. It's waterproof, small and can switch between different modes depending on what adventure you set out to do that day. This means you can take your more active lifestyle from the big city to the backcountry without switching your navigation GPS. 

Not only does Garmin Nuvi 550 have the Garmin quality of guidance and step-by-step directions no matter where you go, it also has the ability to go beyond mainstream cities and towns. Garmin has added the HotFix capability, which automatically figures out and stores the locations of satellites it uses every time you turn on your navigation GPS. This greatly reduces the amount of time it takes from a cold start to where you can use the navigation GPS to its full capacity. HotFix works by causing the GPS to remember the position of all the satellites it used in the past and even calculates the movement of the satellite so next time you turn it on it will know where to look for a signal. The Garmin Nuvi 550 will retain this information for up to three days so even if you don’t use your navigation GPS every day the load time is much faster.

Garmin Nuvi 550 review: Navigation

When most people think of a navigation GPS they think of placing it in a car and that is where it will stay and be used. However, the Garmin Nuvi 550 offers three different modes. You can now navigate your way while on the water, road or on your favorite bicycling trail. Just because you are not on main roads or highways doesn’t mean you should be lost. This is why Garmin made the Garmin Nuvi 550 for those who want to get out and have a little extra fun. With the purchase of preloaded micro SD cards you will have access to additional maps across the world for step-by-step directions no matter what country you find yourself in. Along with city maps you can also load topographical maps and inland lake marine maps for an adventure off the beaten path.

While there are a lot of extras that come standard with the Garmin Nuvi 550 the most important is that it knows where you are and can get you to where you want to go. Like the majority of today’s navigation GPS systems the Garmin Nuvi 550 comes standard with a calm and soothing voice which will prompt you along the way so you know exactly where to turn and call out street names. There are 6 million pre-loaded POIs or points of interest, including hotels, gas stations, restaurants and attractions so you will always know what is coming up. You can also store up to 10 routes, so experiencing those fun filled trips is not just a once in a lifetime event. Most navigation GPS systems have a very simplistic look when traveling from point to point. However, Garmin has added in a digital elevation model mapping system, which shows you shaded contours of the land so you know when you are traveling up a mountain or going across the flat desert.

Garmin Nuvi 550 review: Design

Perhaps one of the most convenient features of this navigation GPS over many of the others is the size and durability. With only a 3.5-inch screen and 0.9-inches thick the Garmin Nuvi 550 truly is the ultimate compact navigation GPS. The small size and fact that it is completely waterproof allows you to put it in a backpack while hiking on the bike trails, while at the same time you can use it on the lakes without the fear of it getting wet and breaking. Along with the slim design the Garmin Nuvi 550 also comes with a lithium-ion battery that has an incredible eight-hour life so even if you forget to bring power cords you will still be able to use this for a full trip or two.

Should you buy the Garmin Nuvi 550?

Garmin is the lead in navigation GPS units because they make quality products that deliver on all ends of the spectrum. The Garmin Nuvi 550 is a perfect example of this; they have taken a navigational GPS and a recreational GPS and combined them into one that can handle just about anything. 

For the price you pay we would like to have seen a few additional features such as voice recognition, Bluetooth, and perhaps lane assistance to make up the difference. That being said, the Garmin Nuvi 550 navigation GPS unit overall is not going to disappoint when it comes to getting from here to there no matter what your means of travel may be. The main problem you might have is finding one now that Garmin has discontinued the model. 

Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne loves reviewing, playing with and owning all-things tech, especially if it pertains to hardware or video games. When she's not hard at work, you can find her hard at play, travelling, taking photos, gaming, reading, and listening to punk & ska.