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I sent my Garmin DriveSmart 55 back

This is not some horror story where things went horribly wrong. At no point did my DS55 crash or lock up, and in my short time of ownership, it never left me stranded. In fact, absolutely nothing was wrong with the unit when I returned it.

However, I noticed a few things both with the DS55 and with myself that I couldn't ignore, so it had to go back.

No ability to hide favorites icons on the map

In older models, you could go to the Map Layers setting and there was an option to enable or disable "Places along the road". When disabled, no waypoint icons would appear on the main map display. This is a great feature, and it doesn't exist in the DS55.

For every favorite you save in the DS55, a giant ugly green favorite icon appears on the map whenever you're near that place. It's always green (you can't change the color) and always disgustingly large. If you have just a few favorites saved, you can tolerate this. But if you have a lot of favorites, the map becomes cluttered with these giant ugly green icons.

Choppy menu animations

While navigation performance was great, menu performance was not. What I mean by that is that certain menus had real bad chop. The best way I can describe this is that it looked like menus were skipping frames. The map itself didn't do this, but menus and information bars did. And the crazy thing is that it only happened on some menus and info bars.

There is no reason for this to be happening on what's considered to be premium navigator made in 2020. None at all.

Too cool for school

There are things I could do to get around the disgusting large favorites icons. And the menu chop, while annoying, wasn't a deal-breaker.

But what ultimately made me return the DS55 was the screen itself.

The performance of the screen was great. That wasn't the problem. The color temperature was awful.

From the factory, the color temperature of the DS55 is "cool". This means whenever you see a white color on screen, it has a light bluish tint to it. Problem with the screen? Not at all. It's just how the software has the color temperature set.

So, I'll just go into the screen settings and adjust the color temperature to warmer and... oh, right. You can't do that. No such setting exists in the DS55.

Could Garmin put in a menu setting to adjust screen color, hue, saturation, contrast, color temperature and so on? Yes, and easily. But all you get is brightness control and that's it. The blue tint of the DS55 screen can never be changed. It's there forever, and it looks terrible.

This is why all modern smartphones have a setting to account for this:


...because the cooler tint CAUSES EYE STRAIN.

And if you think changing the color theme makes things better, it doesn't. I tried that. Color temperature affects all colors, light or dark. The only thing that would fix this is a color temperature setting. But again, it doesn't exist in the DS55.

This leads to another major problem...

Unusable at night

This again has 100% to do with the lack of color temperature setting.

While you can get the correct screen brightness on the DS55 so it's not blinding you while driving at night, it doesn't matter because the blue tint makes everything fuzz out.

Anything that lights up blue or has a blue tint in a dark environment is really bad, because your eyes can't focus on it. Even if you have perfect 20/20 vision, this will happen.

The blue crap from the cooler color temperature can easily fool you into thinking something is wrong with your eyes. There isn't. A cooler screen color temperature is the absolute wrong thing to use for night driving. It always has been and always will be.

I went back to matte

Garmin GPSes with a matte screen don't have a color temperature setting either, but do have an overall warmer screen look that works for both day and night driving without issue.

There are a few tradeoffs to doing this. A matte screen is not as bright as glossy glass, and you notice this most during daylight driving. The resolution is also lower, and you have to press more firmly to register screen touches.

I am totally willing to deal with these tradeoffs to have a display I can read properly without eyestrain.

Regardless of which modern GPS is out there, until they introduce a color temperature setting for their glass display models, I can't use them.