Garmin Nuvi 2699LMT-D satnav reviewed

29 December 2014

Garmin 2699LMT-D screen unit

Garmin 2699LMT-D
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Good: bright, clear screen with excellent lane guidance
Bad: over-ambitious voice command, fiddly screen mount
Price: £199.99 RRP, or less if you shop around
Garmin’s Nuvi 2699LMT-D satnav sits in the middle of the company’s recently launched “Advanced Series” satnav range. I’m not sure what Advanced is supposed to imply, but this immediately feels like a well-built piece of kit. The six-inch screen is made from cool-to-the-touch glass, like an iPhone, while the plastic back cover feels sturdy. There’s a reassuring heft to the unit as a whole.

The screen mount doesn’t quite project the same feeling of solidity, alas. It suckers to the glass keenly enough, but it can be fiddly to attach and release the screen unit. The plastic tab you have to prod to unclip the fastening is awkward, given that it’s hidden around the back – as is the on-off switch.

Garmin 2699LMT-D screen mounting

The power USB power cable plugs straight into the back of the display as well, rather than plugging into the mount to make it into a dock, as is the case with some more expensive rivals. The circular attachment point also means you can accidently clip the screen in upside down if you’re not concentrating.

Happily the device wakes quickly and you are promptly presented with Garmin’s standard starting screen, which allows you to begin by browsing the map or by searching for a destination. You can also, if you’re patient, try talking to it. Say “Voice Command” aloud whenever the device is switched on and the Garmin software will take notice, posting up a screen full of further voice options that you can choose among.

I tried commanding my way to a couple of different destinations and perhaps I have some previously unsuspected speech impediment, because the recognition didn’t come close to the address I spoke aloud. Not even in the right country, on one attempt.

Garmin 2699LMT-D back cover

Thankfully, the voice recognition is more successful when choosing from a more limited set of options, such as when adding a waypoint to an existing journey. You can call out the need for fuel, for example, and the background drone of tyres and engine doesn’t get in the way of comprehension, though it’s advisable to turn the radio down. It is a little odd to think that the satnav is constantly listening and processing what you say, searching for the key “voice command” phrase. It put a slight dampener on my usual in-car sing-along.

Across a variety of short and longer journeys, I found the 2699 a very accurate and helpful guide. It uses landmarks as well as road names when announcing turns, and provides superb lane guidance when approaching complex junctions like the Hanger Lane gyratory, or when exiting a trunk road or motorway.

Garmin 2699LMT-D home screen

The full width of the 800x480 screen is used to great effect, providing lane guidance on the right while maintaining the usual scrolling map image on the left. In some instances the lane guidance will utilise a static picture, typically an encouragingly accurate drawing of an upcoming exit, complete with signage. In other situations the lane guidance appears in the form of a scrolling diagram marking out in shocking pink which lane you should occupy as the road peels away or forks ahead of you. This animated approach is ideal for those bewildering exits from the M25 that seem to have been laid out not by a team of highly skilled road engineers but by a kitten with a ribbon and a map.

A lifetime subscription to real-time traffic data is included, and it did a reasonable job of picking a route through London’s choked arteries. Unlike some other satnavs I’ve reviewed, this Garmin didn’t ever pop up the option to switch to a quicker route in the face of fluctuating traffic, but it did respond promptly to my wilful decisions to go off-course.

Garmin 2699LMT-D split screen lane guidance

Speed camera alerts are of course provided, with an eye-catching visual warning as well as a chime. The screen also shows the prevailing speed limit and will add a red tinge to your present speed if you’re going too fast. The device is aware of average speed cameras but sadly doesn’t oblige by calculating a running average for you after you go through the initial trap.

These minor niggles and shortfalls can be forgiven in a device which does its main job so well. If you have less than £200 to spend and want a big, bright screen, with accurate, easy to follow guidance then this should be a solid and dependable choice.

Garmin 2699LMT-D satnav

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