My Gear – Chapter 15
Garmin nüvi® 2460LMT

Garmin 2460This product took me to within one U-turn of abandoning Garmin completely. It replaced a Garmin Quest which was, in my opinion and for my purposes, nearly perfect. I talk about that here. I could plot routes on my computer then transfer them to the Quest where they were used to guide me along the route just as desired. I would still be using a Quest today if Garmin hadn’t stopped providing map updates around 2005. It wasn’t the roads as much as the POI (Points of Interest). A rerouted expressway or a new exit probably won’t affect any of my routes which tend to follow old roads that haven’t moved in years. But I was using the Quest to find places to eat and sleep and, as time went on, more and more of the mom ‘n’ pop establishments in its data base closed down while the Quest continued to believe them very much alive.

The wild goose chases were aggravating and not being able to depend on there being a functioning motel where the GPS reported one was even more troublesome. With a west coast trip planned for 2011, I decided early in the year to update my guidance system. I did not feel tied to Garmin but some internet searching and forum combing indicated it was still probably my best choice.

Since being able to accept and play back a pre-plotted route is critical for me, I did my best to assure that I got a unit capable of that. It turned out that my best wasn’t good enough though it was awhile before I realized that. Through internet searches, GPS forum exchanges, and email conversations with vendors and Garmin employees I came to believe the 2460LMT would do the job. This unit was at or near the top of Garmin’s line of “automotive” products and, before too long, at or near the top of the “Most Irritating Things I’ve Ever Owned” list.

I ordered directly from Garmin and soon the 2460 was in my hands. After a little playing I tried downloading one of my pre-planned routes. The unit “froze”. Cycling power brought it back and I tried again. In time I realized that the freeze would eventually end on its own and tried various sequences of power, connect, and download but none produced a route on the nüvi. Through a series of emails and phone calls I reached someone at Garmin who seemed to really care. She tried her best. She ran experiments and asked questions and passed information back and forth with untouchable engineering personnel. Her best wasn’t quite good enough either. I did manage to get a tiny test route to appear but my real routes seemed to disappear. In what I took as a lame brushoff but which turned out to be a sorry truth, the engineering folks passed along that “some routes take a really long time.” I’ll skip the rest of the gorey details and let it be known that I did eventually get all of my routes loaded but it was always hours and sometimes days before a route was processed and usable on the nüvi.

Not surprisingly, my opinion of Garmin products was pretty low at this point but it got lower. The unit seemed to work fairly well as I traveled around the area and I even used it to successfully follow a couple of short test routes. I acquired the unit at the beginning of May. In early June I set out for a Lincoln Highway Association conference near Lake Tahoe. The nüvi contained routes intended to guide me along some of the Lincoln Highway’s historic alignments. That the nüvi had flaws became apparent rather quickly but it took awhile to understand them.

The two most onerous nüvi shortcomings are the inability to turn off automatic recalculation and its treatment of each segment as an independent route. A route is a start and end point and some number of intermediate waypoints. At least that’s the way the Quest and I and most routing software sees them. nüvis, however, see routes as nothing more than a list of start and end point pairs. When one point is reached, the nüvi then calculates a path to the next. Since it is always ready to recalculate a route, it does this, not from the point just reached, but from the current position. Here is the sort of real world problem this creates:

Your pre-plotted route contains a right turn just beyond a waypoint. The nüvi guides you to the waypoint and begins calculating a path to the next one. This is hardly instantaneous and you’ve passed that planned turn before it is done. The nüvi is automatically recalculating from your current position so it simply tells you to turn right on some other road then guides you to that next point along a completely different route than the one intended.

If all you want to do is reach the nearest Starbucks as quickly as possible, this behavior is just fine. It is far from fine if you want to reach that Starbucks along a particular road — like the Lincoln Highway or Historic Route 66.

The nüvi 2460LMT is not a bad product. It and all the other members of the nüvi line do what they are intended to do quite well. They are, in fact, the right device for the vast majority of GPS users. The problem is the way Garmin classifies its products. There is a line of products that does routing properly; The way the Quest does and the way I want. But it (zūmo®) is marketed as a motorcycle line and it took someone outside of Garmin to set me straight. I replaced the nüvi® 2460LMT in less than a year. When I tell of that replacement in a future My Gear installment, I may also tell you what I really think of those silly names.

My Gear – Chapter 14 — Lenovo T400

2 thoughts on “My Gear – Chapter 15
Garmin nüvi® 2460LMT

  1. Pingback: My Gear – Chapter 16 Nikon D5100 | Denny G's Road Trips Blog

  2. Pingback: My Gear – Chapter 17 Garmin zūmo 220 | Denny G's Road Trips Blog

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