- Excellent navigation features
- Extremely easy to use
- Covers the basics
- Few entertainment options
- Keyboard hard to use in portrait mode
The Garmin nuvifone G60 is a hybrid device, pairing a touchscreen GPS with a 3G wireless phone on AT&T’s network. There’s nothing fancy here, but it’s a solid device that’s easy to use and reasonably priced at $200 after rebate with a two-year contract.
BUILD & DESIGN
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at the G60 is “blocky” — the overall device is very simple in its design, and very rectangular. It isn’t ugly by any means, but it isn’t particularly attractive either.
The power button is on the top, and it doubles as the wake button to bring the screen back to life when you need to use the device. The only other buttons are on the right side, where you’ll find the volume controls at the top and the camera button at the bottom.
The microSD card slot, car dock connector, and mini USB charging port are on the left side. The microSD slot is well designed — it’s big enough that you can actually use your finger to insert the card or pop it out; you don’t have to hunt around for a letter opener or some other suitably small pointy object to use, which is generally the case with phones that have external card slots.
The G60 is roughly the same height as my iPod Touch, but much narrower and thicker. It’s a bit too big to use easily with one hand, though a guy with larger hands probably wouldn’t have any issues. It fits fine in a pants pocket, though it does create a noticeable bulge because the sides aren’t really rounded or curved in any way.
The 3.5-inch touchscreen running at 272 by 480 pixels is nice and bright indoors, and while it was harder to see outdoors (especially when wearing sunglasses) I could still use the device. The screen has nice contrast with vibrant colors, but it can wash out a bit in direct sunlight.
The touchscreen aspect of the display is a bit “mushy”, and reminds me a bit of older LCD displays that “ripple” when you touch them. I didn’t have any problems with my touches and swipes being misidentified by the device, though. The effect is a little weird, but I got used to it after a while.
The G60 does not have a physical keyboard, but it does have a virtual one that you can bring up on screen when necessary. In landscape mode the keyboard is quite nice, with large, easy to see keys. A single tap on the 1@$ button just to the left of the space bar switches to an alternate mode with numbers and punctuation marks, and I like that approach much more than having to hit a special function key before each character, especially if I’m entering a series of numbers.
The keyboard is nowhere near as successful when used in portrait mode, however. Instead of the standard QWERTY layout, the portrait mode keyboard switches to the ABC layout, which is extremely frustrating and very quickly takes my speed down to half of what I can accomplish with a QWERTY keyboard.
Fortunately the word completion function works very well, offering suggestions promptly. When I am writing e-mails it takes just two letters before the entire address pops up. Even better, the word completion utility does not take over (a source of endless frustration for me on other devices until I give up and turn it off) but requires you to press a single button on the keyboard to accept the substitution. It’s brilliant, and I wish that other phones/devices would follow suit.
The Nuvifone G60 comes with a USB sync cable, AC adapter, and a driver CD with the instruction manual and calendar/contact sync application. A nice suction-cup dash mount is included, and it has a swivel head so it is relatively easy to angle the G60 away from the sunlight coming in your car windows, if necessary.