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255W first impressions

I got my 255W yesterday and used it on a trip from Phoenix to Tucson and back:

First the good:

1. The new interface is by and large great. The map refresh is much much faster than any of the other Nuvis, it's comparable to Tom Tom now while still retaining the nice antialiasing on the fonts and roads. It now shows a smooth rotation when making turns too, looks really cool. It seems to show the names of surrounding streets more frequently than what I've seen on my roommate's 250W as well.

The turn arrow display is really nice and gives you a much better idea of what to expect as you approach an interchange.

2. Incredibly fast satellite lock. I was astonished actually at how quickly it's been able to pick them up after turning it on. First time took less than 20 seconds or so and after that it's been nearly instantaneous. Was able to get a strong signal sitting in my house no problem. That definitely doesn't work with the 250W.

3. The routing seemed pretty good to me. For some reason it doesn't make the routing mistakes my roommate's 250W was making in the Phoenix area after we'd updated it to the 2009 maps. (we downgraded his back to the 2008 maps because of it)

4. I think the unit may capable of determining time zone on its own. There is no option for setting your time zone, it just has a Time Format and Current Time (which has an auto checkbox next to it) in the time options.

5. It's a nice looking unit, very sleek and dark.

And now the bad...

1. Sound. This absolutely is not the same speech engine found on the other Nuvis. It totally sucks, and I don't say that lightly. I had a 750 for a week or so earlier in the year and it was crystal clear, sounded quite natural, and barely made any mispronounciations. The voices on the 255W are very robotic sounding, hard to understand and made a huge number of road name mispronounciations during the trip today. The 250W my roommate has doesn't have TTS, but its main voice is very clear, loud and easy to understand.

What it sounds like to me is that the audio files themselves on the 255W have a very high degree of lossy compression applied to them. The 250W or 750 vs. the 255W is like listening to the uncompressed wav audio from a CD vs. very low bitrate MP3s or something to that effect.

They sound extremely garbled and quiet and it really sounds to me like the full range of frequencies that should be in the voices aren't there. (I'm a recording musician and know a lot about this sort of thing). Even at 100% volume it was almost impossible to hear on the freeway. I'll try to make some recordings of what it sounds like. I don't believe it's the speaker because the beeps and whatnot come through fine and sound like the other units.

I have to think this is due to Garmin putting less storage space in this unit or something. Wonder if it's possible to use the voices from the other units with an SD card or something...

Extremely disappointed overall on the sound front.

2. The green bar at the top of the screen when not navigating an active route now simply says "Driving (direction) on (Road Name)" - it does not show you the names of the upcoming next street the way I've seen other Nuvis do. I have no clue why they would have taken this out, that was a great feature.

3. The touch screen doesn't seem to react as well as the others without a really firm tap. I tried to calibrate it but the previous method of turning it on and then to lock while holding a finger on the screen doesn't appear to work.

4. The power switch feels quite flimsy and prone to breakage, just sitting here comparing it to the 250W's, it's definitely looser and feels solid.

So, it really does seem like its one step forward and two steps back with Garmin and new products. They add great things like the new fast UI and fast satellite acquisition, but then go and put in crap sound, take away features like the upcoming cross street names etc.



  • Wow... thank God I didn't pull the trigger and get a 255 after all.
  • Mrgooch 0 Points
    I have the 205W and have no complaints at all. The sound is very clear and loud.The touch screen is a little slower than the 200W.
  • Tabs 0 Points
    I'm gonna contact Garmin about the sound I think. Something may be wrong here...

    Mrgooch, have you used other Nuvis before? Every other one I've heard in a store or actually used has had way way better quality TTS voices than the one I have here.

    Is there someone with a 750/760 that'd be willing to help me perform a small test by sending me a voice file to load onto the 255W to see if it fixes it?
  • IsLNdbOi 0 Points
    There's an update already available for the Nuvi 2x5 units. Have you installed that?

    There's another user over at GPSPassion that has a flakey 255. Sounds like Garmin released a bad batch or something.
  • Tabs 0 Points
    Yeah I'm fully up to date...

    I'm gonna call Garmin next week after I get back from my LA trip. I don't know how a "bad batch" would explain the robotic voices, and mispronunciations though. I drove the exact same route with the 750 back when I had it that I drove last night with the 255W and I'm almost positive the 750 didn't sound like this.

    I really think the TTS voices on the 255 aren't even the same thing as the other units, like it's a whole different software speech engine. The voices if I recall correctly on the 750 were Jill and Jack, this has Samantha and Jack, but the Jack doesn't sound like what I remember the 750's sounding like.
  • Tabs 0 Points
    I have confirmation now that the other units voice files are in the range of 13-15MB each, while the 2x5's are less than 2MB. This means massive lossy compression is being used and explains my issues.

    It appears that the voice files are also in a new format, which likely means that the higher quality files from the other units can't be used with it.

    I'm going to call Garmin about all of this, but if it's true and this is intentional, I'm definitely returning this unit. That's absolutely ridiculous for them to massively degrade core functionality like the voices when compared to units this one is supposed to be superseding. The 250W sounds a million times better than this.
  • mkim0967 0 Points
    Do any other users of 255w have the same voice quality problem?
  • I have the 255 (not the 255w) and the sound quality to me is very clear. I tested in New york city where streets are close to each other. I was able to hear the street name easily and didn't miss a turn. I went to chinatown on purpose for the street names. It was quite accurate and the satellite pick up was great.

    I never use any other Nuvi or any other GPS before so I can't really compare them. But the sound does sound robotic but I can hear it without it repeating. That's good enough for me ^_^

    The power button does look a little filmsy. Pushing it and holding it turns on and off is a little fragile.

    The touch screen for me is perfect. As I really don't like too sensitive screens.

    Is a keeper for me.
  • I have the 255 as well, yes I agree. The voice is robotic, and it got better with the new firmware update. Without the update, it sounds horrible. However it is understandable, but I would like to get the old voice from the 260 back.

    Can anyone possibly post the Jill TTS voice file from the 260 the VPM as well as the SUM file so I could maybe put it to work on the 255. Let hope Garmin fix this sound problem soon. Why change a good thing GARMIN???
  • Tabs 0 Points
    Good news guys, someone on GPSpassion already figured out how to mod the 7xx voice files to work on the 255 and he said it fixes the problem. Involves a bit of hex editing apparently. Waiting for him to get in touch with me about doing it.

    I'll be pretty happy with the unit if I can get the voices to be like they are on the 7xx.
  • Tabs 0 Points
    I misunderstood, the supposed fix does not work - they've somehow blocked the 2x5 from using the higher quality .vpm files from the other units.

    I'll be calling Garmin on Monday and inquiring about this, I can't believe they'd do this just to deliberately cripple the unit's sound capability. It's got 650+MB free on it...
  • bacevedo 0 Points
    I wonder if Garmin has to rob Peter to pay Paul for the faster screen refreshes. I know the new units use a faster processor, but maybe it still isn't fast enough to do a 4Hz screen refresh and process a large TTS file in the TTS engine and do all of the other things like drawing a lot of detail on the map (in most detail mode, zoomed in). They may have figured most people would give up some clarity on the audio, because the screen can confirm what route you need to follow and these units seem to focus more on the UI than the previous units.

  • I just purchased a Nuvi 255 for my wife to use on an upcoming trip. I've never owned any type of road navigation GPS before. I see people mentioning updates, however when I go to, it says there are no updates for the unit. I also tried to register it, and it says I have to plug the unit into the computer. However, there was no USB cable provided. I confirmed on their website that the 255 does not come with a USB cable. Does this mean you're not allowed to register or update a 255 unless you pay them extra for a cable, or am I missing something? This seems like a huge oversight to leave out a cable that appears to be a requirement to register the product.
  • Tim 1500 Points
    Many people already have the cable... often the same as what comes with a digital camera. It is a standard USB to mini-USB cable.
  • Tabs 0 Points
    Just went from Phoenix to LA and back over the last two days with the 255W - more thoughts:

    1. The voice thing really is a big issue - they're almost impossible to hear at freeway speeds in my car. It's not a volume issue, the non-TTS voices aren't compressed like that and sound fine (just like the 250W) - it's the fact that a bunch of the frequency range is removed, the voices just blend in with the road/wind noise.

    2. I noticed some odd things going on with some of the instructions while navigating freeway interchanges. Several times I had a situation where I was getting off on a branched exit of sorts where it splits into north and south or east and west etc for the freeway you're switching to. The 255W just displayed and said the base name of the freeway, no direction of travel. I remember the 750 saying and showing the direction of travel pretty much every time.

    3. I didn't hear the 255W say the side of the street my destination was on even once on the trip. Appears that feature may have also been removed or is currently bugged. Tried with both POIs and typed in addresses.

    4. There's definitely some bugs going on with the zoom levels - pressing the turn list and then "show map" to bring up the 2D overview of the whole route isn't allowing you to zoom in to check out a particular portion of the route, it just goes right back to the view of the whole route on its own about 2 seconds after you zoom in. I saw this happen on the main map screen while trying to zoom in a few times too, it would just immediately snap back out to some earlier setting (pretty sure this was not the autozoom)

    5. I don't understand what the logic is for when it shows the 3D shaded terrain map and when it doesn't. It seems to decide to show it or not at different zoom levels based on some sort of criteria, but I'm not sure what.

    I'm gonna call Garmin up on Monday and talk to them about my findings with the unit... maybe we can get a straight answer on why the voices are so compressed and if it's not a technical reason maybe they'll make the higher quality ones available for us on Web Updater or something.

  • JohnR 0 Points
    Regarding the touch screen issue, I have found that both Garmin and TomTom units respond better by touching the screen with the fingernail. If the nails are trimmed particularly short, it may be necessary to invert the finger to get good contact, but it seems to work for me at least.
  • fs0002 81 Points
    Oh No, I have just read the postings. I just purchased the Nuvi 255w
    from Circuit City, got it yesterday. It is still in the sealed plastic box.
    Now I don't know what to do, if the voice is really that bad and you
    cannot hear or understand it should I return it unopened to Circuit
    City before my 14 days are up?
    If so what should I get for around $300.00 ?
    I am new at this so I can use all of the help I can get.
  • lc11444 0 Points

    I wouldn't panic or give up on the 255w just yet. I bought one a couple of days ago (my second Garmin) and was a bit worried when I first started reading these sound comments here and at the GPS Passion web site. But now that I have had a chance to use and listen to the American English voice (Samantha) on several road trips I have decided that although the TTS voice may be a bit "robotic" and not as clear and distinct as the non-TTS voice available on the unit, it does not seem all that bad, particularly in view of some of the very nice features the 255w has to offer - nice big screen, very fast redraw screen refresh rate, useful "Where Am I" function and amazingly quick satellite location (probably at least partially related to the "hot fix" technology it has). I am hoping Garmin may come up with a fix for the TTS voices and update or replace them but meanwhile I think the 255w is a nice unit and don't plan on returning it even though I could do so without penalty. But of course it's all a matter of personal taste.
  • Tabs 0 Points
    I'm going to be talking to Garmin tomorrow and if I get the impression that they know about the voice issues and will try to fix it for us then I'm probably going to keep it. If not, I'm probably going to return it and get a 760.
  • Many people already have the cable... often the same as what comes with a digital camera. It is a standard USB to mini-USB cable.
    Thanks, I'm not really a "gadget" person, so I did not identify it as USB or mini-USB or whatever it is. I looked around through by cable bin and found that I actually DO own a mini-USB that must have come with my digital camera. I've never used it since I download my camera pictures by taking the memory card out. Anyway, the camera cable worked, thanks for the tip!!
  • IsLNdbOi 0 Points
    Does the Nuvi 255 have the sample language guide in it like the other Nuvis?
  • Tabs 0 Points
    Does the Nuvi 255 have the sample language guide in it like the other Nuvis?
    Not that I've been able to find.
  • IsLNdbOi 0 Points
    Nice. I didn't like having the sample / useless one in my past Nuvi. There was no way to get rid of it other than to install the full version which overwrote the sample one.
  • lc11444 0 Points
    I got this reply from Garmin today concerning the TTS voice problem on the 255w we have been discussing:

    Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I have noticed the difference in the sound of the voices as you have described. I have submitted this to our engineers so that they can create a solution in the form of a software update. I am unable to give you a date on when this will be corrected, but it is something that they are actively investigating.

    With Best Regards,

    Chris V
    Product Support Specialist
    2nd Shift Automotive Team
    Garmin International
  • lc11444 0 Points
    Bad news - latest email from Garmin tech Support about 255w voice problem:

    I wanted to give you an update on the email I sent you the other night. After speaking with one of our engineers about the sound of the TTS languages on the nüvi 255, he informed me that the cause of the discrepancy in voice tone is due to the actual voice ‘engine’ being used, and is not a software or speaker malfunction. The sound is inherent to the program and is not something that can be altered through a firmware update. I apologize for any inconvenience, but the sound quality in the device is as designed and will not be changed in the future.
    Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance in the future.

    Chris V.
    Garmin International
    Automotive Support Specialist
  • sm0421 0 Points
    Thank you so much lc11444! Just a question before I buy the 255w, do you think the voice is unacceptable? how bad it is? Becuase I really like the other features that 255w has, like the normal keyboard and fast satellite locate, if so I'll settle with a 260w.

    Thanks again,

  • lc11444 0 Points
    Hi sm0421,

    Although definitely not as clear and distinct as the non-TTS voices on the unit, I find the TTS voice acceptable and certainly audible on the Nuvi 255w. It all comes down to a trade-off. The 255w has a nice big screen, very fast redraw screen refresh rate which gives smooth icon movement, a useful "Where Am I" function and almost startlingly fast satellite location and lock (much faster than the 260w which I had previously tried outside a Radio Shack before I bought the 255w). I would suggest you go to a retail store which has the 255w and compare the TTS voice (Samantha) with the non-TTS voice on the unit and also with the TTS voice on another unit like the 260w to see if you find the TTS voice on the 255w too "robotic" and not clear enough. I found it to be OK for my personal use and when I put it together with the other positives for the 255w, it was an acceptable trade-off. It's just a matter of personal taste. Some will find it acceptable and others will not. I should add that it is quite disappointing for Garmin to have put out a unit with such a noticeable difference from other units with TTS voices (even the Garmin tech person I communicated with admitted this fact) but I guess they must have had some reason for engineering this difference and perhaps it has something to do with the other features on the unit. In any case I suspect no GPS devices will ever be perfect - there will almost always be a trade off of some kind.
  • sm0421 0 Points
    Hi lc,

    Thanks a lot! Just came back from a local BB (after read your post and jumped into the car!), only found a 260w, and it couldnt't got the signal so I couldn't hear the actual sound, will go to a Staple tomorrow. I am currently using a garmin's got no TTS and the LOW-SENSITIVE receiver almost killed me twice driving in Boston downtown... I guess I'll go for the 255w!

    Thanks for your help!

  • Tabs 0 Points
    Alex - put store units into GPS simulator mode and you can then operate it as if you were using it in the car.

    And by the way everyone, I decided to keep the 255W. Garmin told me they're looking into the voice issue and will patch it, so I'm going to hope that they actually do fix it. It's been very nice around town the past few days though - found a new route the other day I had no idea about that was a lot faster than what I'd been doing previously... gotta love technology!
  • Tim 1500 Points
    Garmin told me they're looking into the voice issue and will patch it, so I'm going to hope that they actually do fix it.
    Did you catch this post just a few posts up?
    After speaking with one of our engineers about the sound of the TTS languages on the nüvi 255, he informed me that the cause of the discrepancy in voice tone is due to the actual voice ‘engine’ being used, and is not a software or speaker malfunction. The sound is inherent to the program and is not something that can be altered through a firmware update. I apologize for any inconvenience, but the sound quality in the device is as designed and will not be changed in the future.
  • sm0421 0 Points
    Hey Ryan,

    Thanks! I had a lot of funny stories with my C320, it almost ALWAYS direct me to some small lanes and sideways, I was onced been directed to drive through a golf course and once to a graveyard or something in the night.... :twisted:

    The funnier thing is I recently got a part-time job from Graigslist, I'll be the Chinese voice for Garmin..... they paid me pretty good :D

    Thanks again for all your help!

  • I realize this is a newbie question, but is there a functional difference between the TTS voices and the non-TTS voice on the 255, other than the way they sound? Like does the non-TTS voice lose some functionality that the TTS ones have?
  • Tabs 0 Points
    Garmin told me they're looking into the voice issue and will patch it, so I'm going to hope that they actually do fix it.

    Did you catch this post just a few posts up?

    After speaking with one of our engineers about the sound of the TTS languages on the nüvi 255, he informed me that the cause of the discrepancy in voice tone is due to the actual voice ‘engine’ being used, and is not a software or speaker malfunction. The sound is inherent to the program and is not something that can be altered through a firmware update. I apologize for any inconvenience, but the sound quality in the device is as designed and will not be changed in the future.
    Crap, no I didn't. The reply I received from Garmin said they were looking into it. I'm not sure I buy that response honestly, it sounds very much like lossy compression at the root of the problem to me.

    An "engine" is software by definition... this should be fixable. My guess is that this is yet another example in Garmin's long string of taking features away in order to further stratify the capabilities of their gazillion Nuvi units. It's so stupid, the 255W has better refresh and a better interface than even the top of the line 8xx models - it's almost like they thought "Hey this is too good, we gotta make something on it suck."

    I'm still going to keep it I guess though, the bottom got scratched from the mount and I probably couldn't return it anyway.
  • fs0002 81 Points
    Good question Photosmith, I was wondering the same thing..
    What actually is TTS?
  • alokeprasad 102 Points
    Text To Speech
  • fs0002 81 Points
    Thanks for the link it was interesting..
    I am still a little confused. People have complained about the
    TTS on the nuvi 255 w, comparing it to other units; according to
    the link it stated that non TTS has a prerecorded voice for turns
    etc. however it mentioned that TTS could not be prerecorded
    therefore it must generate a voice for each street name; if this
    is the case then don't all TTS units have the robot speech?
    Sorry to be such a pest, but I am trying to understand this
    whole new world of technology (for me)
  • Tim 1500 Points
    The TTS voices can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and from model to model. The complaint with the 255w is that the voices are not as clear as those found in other Nuvi models. It could partially be attributed to a different quality speaker, but they are likely using different software to produce the sounds of a smaller file size (and lesser quality).
  • Tabs 0 Points
    Yeah it's definitely not the speaker. With the regular pre-recorded "American English" non-TTS voice selected, the unit sounds just like the others. It's only when you compare the TTS ones that the quality difference happens.
  • fs0002 81 Points
    Ok I opened the box and found the Quick Start Manual, which was for a 205W series. I went on Garmin's website to download a full
    user manual and found nothing except the 205W starter Manual.
    Does anyone know where to download the entire manual?
    Being new to this I would think they would have a full manual...
  • Yeah I don't think Garmin really has the time to make full manuals for the Nuvi models. They make a half dozen new Nuvis every year. Compare that to the old days of the 76, which would have one manual and then soldier on for 8 years with only 1 real update, and so on. They update the Nuvi line too quickly to write documentation for it.
  • gatorguy 328 Points
    None of the 200 series have what would be called "owner's manuals", only Quick Start or Set Up and Go. All the others have proper OM's, tho even those are frequently less than thorough.

    I think they do it on purpose to give people like Tim something to keep them off the streets :wink:
  • Tim 1500 Points
    Exactly, I'd be such a rif-raff without this site. :)
  • fs0002 81 Points
    I am sorry for being a pest...
    I have been trying to turn off those touch tones for 2 days, I looked
    on the only full user manual online which is for a Nuvi 660, that manual does instruct how to turn-off the touch tones, however the
    nuvi 255W does not seem to have that option. Does anyone know
    if you can disable the touch tones in the nuvi 255 W?
  • Tabs 0 Points
    You can't turn them off on any of the newer Nuvi's - I wish you could as well.
  • fallon242 0 Points
    edited July 2008
    Hello Everyone,

    This is my first post. Over the past few months, I have been an avid reader of this forum and appreciate the discussion and insight it provides.

    I am compelled to write because I recently upgraded from a TT ONE to a Nuvi 255 based on my exposure to a 260. TTS was a major factor in the decision. However, after reading the impressions in this thread, I contacted Garmin about the TTS concerns, hoping to get some idea of what the company is doing to address our concerns. IMHO, Garmin should be upfront and let consumers know its position. It can: a. Correct the TSS quality issue via firmware, b. Issue a recall or c. Do nothing.

    Although I read in an earlier thread that option a may not be possible, there are options b and c. Unfortunately, Garmin appear to be taking option c, with the potential for damaging customer loyalty.

    Here is the response I received from ProductSupport today:

    "Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

    The voice on the Nuvi 255 is going to sound somewhat different than the voice that you are used to on the Nuvi 260. We have made changes to the voice to make is sound more "human like". This was designed as an improvement and there should not be any issues with the sound quality.
    If there is anything else I can do for you please let me know."

    There!. Each of us know what we are prepared to live with. After checking it out more this weekend I will decide whether to return it or not.
  • gatorguy 328 Points
    As TomJ has said before. . . It's not a "bug", it's a feature! :roll:

  • Tabs 0 Points
    Ok that is completely *ridiculous* if that's what they're saying now. It absolutely sounds MUCH more robotic than the other units!

    What if they're intending to put this lower quality TTS in all new units, including the higher end ones and this is the line they're going to feed people now?
  • Perhaps the 255 don't have enough processing power to do fast screen updates and high quality tts.

    The negative feedback will likely make them think twice before adopting it as the new tts standard.
  • SergZak 341 Points
    I would =hope= Garmin would think twice about adopting this "new" TTS engine for future units. It was my understanding that technology improves over time rather than degrades... :roll:
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