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Back when a 3.5" screen was good enough (and still is)

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These could - and should - be made again.

One of the newer additions to my collection of Garmin GPSes is the Garmin nuvi 2250LT. I was able to pick up a near-mint one for a very good price.

This thing was made in either in 2010 or 2011, so it's over 10 years old at this point. However, I was able to update it and it works just fine. It's still a fine navigator.

The best thing about the 2250LT is the size. Physically, it's 3.7"W x 2.8"H with a depth of 0.6" (9.3 x 7.2 x 1.5cm for you metric types.) The screen size is 2.8"W x 2.1"H (7.2 x 5.4cm) resulting in a 3.5" (8.9cm) diagonally measured screen. And it weighs just 107 grams, which is lighter than most dive style wristwatches.

Yes, it's a touchscreen. Yes, it does report traffic when connected to a GTM36. Yes, it speaks street names and does turn-by-turn directions.

Why did these stop being made?

Two reasons. People thought a 3.5" screen was too small, and the smartphone.

However, things have changed and some people are now giving these old Garmins another look.

Before telling you what's changed, the second and third best things about the 2250LT and other Garmins of the 3.5" size variety are:

The simplicity. It is very easy to use and very easy to follow. Great map contrast. Icons are big. On-screen map arrow is big. Colors are bright. Sure, the resolution is low at just 320x240, but even so, this thing is ridiculously easy to get along with.

Great signal. A Garmin GPS of this type is only a receiver. The receiving antenna built in is the only one in the unit. Rarely will you ever see one of these have a signal drop unless you go somewhere where no signals can get through (such as driving through a mountain.)

What people want out of an electronic navigator is something that doesn't drop signal, is easy to use and just works...

...and that phone doesn't do that. Things have changed there. It will drop signal, and the navigation app for whatever it is will crash periodically. Apps crash on the phone so often that it's considered normal. That didn't used to happen, but does now.

Very rarely have I ever had a Garmin crash on me. I purposely don't connect my phone to any of my Garmins (some have Bluetooth support for that) just to make very certain I don't introduce any instability to my navigation.

Pocket-sized navigators are cool

When the phone starts screwing up as it does from time to time, that's when a little navigator that isn't the phone really shines.

I really like the fact the 2250LT not only works but works well, and I can mount it almost anywhere in the car. Also, due to the smaller size it's also 100% legal to mount on the lower left corner of the windshield in all 50 states.

Is the 2250 a "golden era" Garmin? That depends on how you look at it. As far as the 3.5" models are concerned, the 2250 was the best one Garmin ever made because it's packed with the most features. But I can't say it's the best model overall. Most Garmin car navigator fans would say the nuvi 2589 (a 5" model from 2014) is the best. I think the 2599 (also from the same year) is better, but that's just me.

To me, the 2250 is a golden era Garmin model because it's a rock-solid performer once all software updates are applied, which I did do.

2250LT is an example of "do one thing, do it well" tech. Smartphones are supposed to be able to run circles around this thing since they are far more powerful. When everything is working on the phone, then yes, it's better. But because of GPS signal drops and the crash-happy nature of the navigation apps, that makes the nuvi 2250LT made 11 years ago the better option. Doesn't drop signal, doesn't crash, just works.

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