Garmin products loaded with features

By Gregg Ellman

Tribune News Service

If Garmin could, they would control the gas and brake pedals in addition to doing an amazing job of getting you where you want to go.

I tried out the company’s latest GPS unit, the Nuvi 2689LMT, and again they made me wonder how they can make a better GPS unit than the previous — but they always seem to.

Front and center is a 6-inch pinch-to-zoom high resolution display on a matte black body. This allows you to get a zoomed-in look at a specific area, just as you do with most smartphones.

Without the boring specifics of the resolutions or how many pixels it has (like most people even know or care what that is), just know the clarity is amazing. It’s not 3D or 4K, just plain old amazing.

It’s also built with dual orientation so it can be positioned in portrait or landscape positions for viewing.

There seems to be endless features and among those catching my attention was the Garmin POI data base, which is integrated with the Foursquare app. Right out of the box it’s loaded with North America maps, including free lifetime updates.

Other features include voice commands, on-screen speed limit indicator, smartphone link and Bluetooth technology to use the GPS for handsfree calling with its built-in speaker and microphone.

Route avoidance is always great to skip specific routes such as those with toll roads.

It has an internal battery good for about an hour but most people will use it with the included car adapter.

The Garmin Nuvi 2689 weighs 9.5 ounces and measures 3.7 by 6.6 by 0.76-inches.

Details:, $269

Wireless deadbolt lock

Kwikset Kevo is a great looking deadbolt door lock, which comes along with a set of standard keys to unlock it.

That might not sound exciting but what will get you is that you can unlock the door without ever using the keys whether you’re right in front of it or on the other side of the country.

I’m a big fan of electronic gadgets that require very little setup and little or no written instructions. The Kwikset doesn’t fall into that category since it does require installing the lock, loading an app and testing everything, but it’s still a great device.

Since the safety of my home being locked or unlocked was in stake, I did read the instructions ahead of time and kept a key in my pocket from the start.

The lock installation seemed to be like the few others I’ve installed but what you don’t have to install is the Bluetooth technology built into the lock.

Once installed along with four AA batteries and the Kwikset’s iPhone app you’re ready to go keyless.

You’ll also have to calibrate and sync it so it recognizes your device when you’re nearby. This part is pretty critical and the instructions are easy to follow.

Once everything is hooked up a small LED surrounds the lock and lights up different colors for different features.

For example, green means the lock has been opened and red means it didn’t lock.

The eKey feature is amazing and really shows the technology. This allows you to send a key to a friend, repairman or even the in-laws at an unexpected visit.

Kwikset eKeys can be programmed for one-time use or even daily use with specific days and times.

Hardware included the deadbolt lock, a pair of standard keys, a single FOB and AA batteries. The app is free along with two anytime eKeys and unlimited guest eKeys.

A recent software and firmware update has brought in many new features including an Android Lollipop version.

For iOS devices, users of the iPhone 4S and higher, including the new iPhone 6 and 6Plus, will work with the Kevo lock system.

Details:, $199.99, available in brass, nickel and venetian bronze

Maxell Bluetooth speaker

The Maxell MB-2 portable Bluetooth 4.0 speaker also pairs with NFC one-touch devices.

Powerful sound comes from what’s called an “Amplifier with built-in radiator.”

What that translates to is you get a great sounding pocket-sized (5.31 by 2.99 by 1.377-inch) speaker, that can also be used as a portable battery to charge other small USB devices.

On top of that, it works as a handsfree speakerphone and has a playback time of 20 hours after a full charge.

Included is a carrying pouch, 3.5mm connection cable and a microUSB cable for charging.

Details:, $59.95