Garmin nüvi 52LM full review
As one of the cheapest satnavs around (although you can go lower by opting for a 4in screen), the 5in nüvi 52LM is notable for having free map updates for life, even if it covers only the UK and Ireland, while many rivals cover most of Europe. Other than this, the specification is fairly typical of other lower-priced units, being comparable to the TomTom Start 50, but lacking the various advanced features that are available on, say, the Garmin nüvi 2599 LMT-D and the TomTom GO 50.
If you did happen to want full European maps, then it's only £10 extra - Amazon sells both versions for £75 and £85 respectively. You can even opt for a 6in screen for £99, although that's technically a different model: the Nuvi 65LM and comes with only UK & Ireland.
Free updates to its internal maps for the lifetime of the unit means you keep up to date with changes in the road network. While not universal, such a scheme is becoming more common and is a welcome change from having to buy upgrades once your unit is a year or two old, and typically costs £40 or £50.
Updates to safety camera alerts, however is by subscription. The unit has no means of knowing traffic conditions, either as a free or a subscription service, because it can’t connect to a smartphone and doesn’t have a built-in receiver. This is typical of cheaper satnav devices.
Installation is simple enough. A mount with a suction cup attaches to the windscreen and the unit itself clips into this mount. While the nüvi52 LM has an internal battery, it will normally be connected to the car’s power socket using the lead provided. The GPS antenna is internal like all modern satnavs. However, unlike sat navs of old, and both the TomTom units, the touch screen is capacitive - like a smartphone - which makes it far more responsive than resistive screens.
The menus are straightforward and navigating them is intuitive without even glancing at the manual. Voice control is available but you first have to select it on screen which is inadvisable while driving. Because of this, we didn’t use it. The facilities offered for planning a route are basic but perfectly useable, offering standard options such as going to your destination via another location, but without giving you a choice of routes.
On the road, the maps are easy to read with the usual choice of a 2D or 3D view but without the 3D buildings that are available on more advanced satnavs such as the TomTom Go 50. Verbal turn-by-turn instruction are clear and given at appropriate times.You also get lane assistance as shown above, and also the maximum speed limit of the current road. You'll also see warnings of upcoming speed cameras.
In the main, the routes offered to us seemed reasonable and, in familiar places, were usually the ones we’d have chosen ourselves.
However, we were able to entice it to suggest a route that would have taken us along a road that we knew became un-surfaced and rutted, and which would only be passable with a 4x4. This is a common and much reported issue with many in-car sat navs although, in reality, it normally won’t cause problems.
The Foursquare database of points of interest is provided with the 52Lm. This allows you to be shown and optionally guided to, a nearby petrol station or car park, for example.
While lacking the advanced features of more expensive satnavs, the Nuvi 52LM is good value at the online price of £75, especially with a decent-sized 5in screen. The main drawback, for which you’d have to pay a fait bit more, is live traffic information.
Garmin nüvi 52LM: Specs
- Standalone satnav
- 5in (480x272) colour touchscreen display
- preloaded UK & Ireland maps
- Lithium-ion battery
- claimed battery life 2 hours
- 2-year warranty