Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT-D review - evo Essentials

evo's staff photographer hasn't been getting lost as much recently - here's why

Satnavs. For those who appreciate pure driving thrills and an uncluttered driving environment, they’re a bit of a distraction, but a good satnav’s ability to get you out of trouble (or, even better, avoid it in the first place) means the photographers and road-testers here at evo rely on them heavily at times.

The ‘smart’ Garmin we’ve been testing recently – the DriveSmart 50LMT-D unit – has impressed us, so much so that we’ve written a review of it.

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First things first, straight out of the box the unit connects to your windscreen using the lock-down-clamp design (no licking required, mercifully). The clamp is also fully adjustable, so you can get the perfect viewing angle, and the black frame, though a little boring, means it blends in in the majority of car interiors.

Next up, the software itself. The beauty of Garmin’s operating system is that it’s effortless, and the homescreen allows you to enter an address or postcode in two simple clicks, meaning you can be on your way immediately. The 5-inch display is also decently bright and has pinch-to-zoom ability and voice-activated control, which allows you to control the satnav while keeping your hands safely at the wheel (a welcome feature if your over-powered hot hatch is torque-steering away).

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Garmin also offers free lifetime map updates for UK, Ireland and Europe, and these are detailed enough to make pin-pointing an exact destination easy. The unit also has Bluetooth hands-free calling along with smartphone notifications that display calls, texts and other app alerts on the navigation screen.

We also like the combination of colours this Garmin uses – a blue bar at the top of the screen displays incoming direction changes whilst an orange or red bar displays driver alerts, which include school zones or speed cameras. Other info displayed around the edge includes your current speed, the speed limit and you’re your arrival time.

In practice, the integrated digital traffic updates saved us 22 minutes on a three-hour journey, with quicker alternative routes automatically updating without the need for constant prompts – this is a godsend if you’re generally averse to satnavs.

We found there was also no buffering with this unit, which helps while executing countless direction changes is a short period of time, such as during city driving. The speed-camera alerts were also surprisingly up-to-date and pretty accurate, too.

Overall, the Garmin subscribes to the functional school of design and keeps things simple and perhaps a little bit boring, but it does a great job of linking up with a smartphone, allowing you to access lots of helpful apps and use hands-free calling. The speed-camera alerts, meanwhile, are just as reliable as any specific speed-camera-warning device on the market.

How much? £143.99Where can I buy one? Halfords.com

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