Garmin DriveSmart 61 Review: A Screen to Instantly Make Your Car Smarter

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There are a slew of automotive options to bring high tech features to your cockpit.

But you've got to know what you're getting before you install a new piece of equipment. Not all GPS systems are created equal. All promise to make your drive easier and more enjoyable. Which ones actually deliver on that marketing promise? Well, for starters, the Garmin DriveSmar 61 does.

After going through a bit of history and all of the applicable design features, we'll go even further. If you're still not convinced it's for you, just keep reading. We've also selected a group of contenders that give this device some serious competition. Somewhere in our guide is likely going to be just the right product for your vehicle.

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A Little About the Garmin DriveSmart 61

Maybe you recognize the Garmin name. Perhaps its sleek appearance caught your eye. Or it could be that you were just browsing online and came across an ad or review. In any case, there's a lot underneath the surface that you should know about if you're interested. And we'll tackle it all in the sections below.

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Background About Garmin

Before we get into the details of the Garmin DriveSmart 61, let's discuss the powerful brand behind it. You might already be familiar with the Garmin name. It created a serious footprint in the era of early automotive GPS devices. But times have changed -- and so has the capability of Garmin's products. The topic of our following review represents the evolution of a brand that has always led the way.

Who is the Garmin DriveSmart 61 Great For?

The Garmin DriveSmart 61 is likely a perfect fit for just about any motorist. If you love the convenience technology can provide, you'll probably find plenty of use in this product. It's simple to install, so you don't need to be an electronics pro to set it up. And once it's in, you'll have fun learning how to interact with the simple to use interface. This is the cream of the crop from a great brand. So it's a sure winner among a wide range of modern motorists.

What are the Best Uses for the Garmin DriveSmart 61?

You'll find the GPS navigation is a central draw to the Garmin DriveSmart 61. But there is so much more it can do. So take a look at the capabilities below for all of the recommended uses. But let's just discuss a few of the most obvious ways you can enjoy this device. Send text messages and make phone calls all hands free, making it safer to communicate on the road. Look up a highly recommended local restaurant. Do all the things you might ordinarily have to wait to look up on your smartphone. And it's all housed in a great looking and responsive dash mounted unit.


Features & Benefits of the Garmin DriveSmart 61

Still wondering what makes this clever device so irresistible for so many motorists? We'll give you all the details in the sections below. Keep in mind that there's a lot we could recommend about this device. But we wanted to put the spotlight on the areas where we think the Garmin DriveSmart 61 really shines.

1. Sleek & Elegant Design

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The first thing you'll notice when you unpack this device is its stunning good looks. Sure, there are lots of sleek and stylish tablets on the market these days. But most of the nicest designs don't find their way into automotive tech. This is an outlier, since it has a display you actually want to show off inside your automobile. 

And when it comes to actually using it, you'll find that it's far more than just a pretty face. Everything looks and feels like it is made to last out of high quality materials. And the icons make sense where they are placed. Plus, they are easy to recognize and select when needed. When you begin to look through the apps and information loaded into the device, you might be overwhelmed. There are lots of maps showing all of North America. Then it is easy to plug in another device via the micro SD input. From there, it's easy to download any other maps you might need.

Then through the built in GPS, you can get information about landmarks and other points of interest. It will also assist you with traffic in real time as well as stop lights and other potential issues. And when it tells you where to turn, you won't have to worry about finding the right street names. The device will give you helpful landmarks to look for so you'll know exactly where you're going at all times.

2. Easy to Install & Use

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The Garmin DriveSmart 61 has a host of innovative features. But they are useless if you can't figure out how to use them. And Garmin understands this principle. That's why it has created an easy to use system with lots of helpful built in design elements. Once you have the tablet hooked up, you just need to look for the information you need.

And you can also connect your smartphone to the dash mounted device.That means you can get notifications, use your phone's features without your hands, and much more. Need a little more assistance along the way? This product can give you helpful updates including traffic, school crossing zones and sharp turns approaching. And then there is the speed limit control, which will warn you if you're getting too fast.

Plus, if you need some more practical help, the device will help you find any number of destinations. Hungry? Low on gas? Need a place to stay? All you have to do is ask for the nearest restaurant, service station or hotel. And never worry about getting lost on the way, even if it takes you to new roads and communities. The step by step navigation will keep you on track all the time. 

3. Reliable Performance on the Road

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Not only is this device easy to install in your dash, it's easy to keep using when it's hooked up. For starters, you can plug it up to make sure there's always power going to the Garmin DriveSmart 61. And if you need a cleaner look, unplug it all and the battery will take you about an hour down the road. 

In addition to the great alerts and alarms to keep you secure, there are other important safety accessories. Perhaps the most notable is the rear view camera. This feature provides extra vision of whatever is behind your car. And there's also a camera in the vehicle to keep an eye on a baby or anything in the rear seat. This device has got a fix for almost anything you can imagine -- and a few things you might not. 

4. Customer Service

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We think this is one of the simplest interfaces to get used to using while behind the wheel. And it also takes very little effort to install and get it up and going. But if you have any questions along the way, some expert opinion is just a message away. You can contact someone by phone or send an email. Plus, the company's website offers help on a range of relevant topics. 

On top of all of that assistance, your Garmin DriveSmart 61 comes with a great warranty. Use it with confidence no matter where the road might take you. Even if you think you know how it might help, you'll likely be surprised. This device is a helpful assistant in ways you probably won't fully know until you try it. 


What Motorists Have to Say About the Garmin DriveSmart 61

There are many good things to say about this product. And plenty of satisfied customers have been eager to share their rave reviews. But we wanted to take a balanced look, so we searched out the most common pros and cons we could find. We listed those factors in the chart below.

PROS:

  • plus
    Beautiful display
  • plus
    Powerful integrations
  • plus
    Easy to use

CONS:

  • close
    Higher price than some rivals
  • Limited battery life

Like what you see? The Garmin DriveSmart 61 is available now. But if you're still not sold, then keep reading. We've also selected a few other products in the same general market. Each one offers a slightly different experience and its own range of features. So we think at least one of the devices on our list should meet the needs you have for your car.


Alternative Auto GPS Units to Consider

If you're in the market for a third party GPS navigation system, your options are numerous. But some are simply better than others. Based on features, ease of use and customer reviews, the three below stood out from the pack. If you're looking at the Garmin DriveSmart 61, here are three others you might want to consider.

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Here's a device full of features and produced by a company with a long history of auto electronics accessories. Find Bluetooth capabilities for incredible voice operation and commands. Then the GPS system is easy to operate and understand even when you're in unfamiliar territory. Get a clear look at what's behind you with a camera built to resist water and other hazards.

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If you've owned a Kenwood product before, you probably know its reputation for sound quality. And you can make use of that expertise inside of your GPS device. All of the standard features of navigation are right there and easy to access. But you can also stream music and listen in a variety of ways through the incredible system. Get useful assistance from the device while making the trip more enjoyable with some rich sounding tunes.

3. Garmin Drive 60 LM GPS

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Don't need quite the assistance offered by the Garmin DriveSmart 61? Check out its little brother in the company lineup. This device provides many of the same core functions. It also features its own easy to use screen with a simple and logical interface. Get alerts to possible road hazards, exact step by step navigation and much more. Voice commands and a camera are among the options meant to keep you safer on the road. Plus, it comes from Garmin, which already has a reputation for producing some of the best auto GPS devices.


The Garmin DriveSmart 61 makes reaching your destination an easy feat.

In today's day and age, there's no excuse for getting lost given recent technological developments. The Garmin DriveSmart 61 is a device that embodies access and practicality to bring drivers the best possible navigation system.

What are your thoughts on the Garmin DriveSmart 61? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you know someone who is chronically lost, be sure to share this review with them to get them going in the right direction.

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