Garmin has combined features from several outdoor and automotive navigators into the nüvi 500 series. The rugged and waterproof units have the capability to transition between driving, bicycling, boating or walking mode. The ability to download geocaches is provided for hiking, and while on the water optional software can provide detailed chart-specific information, including locations of wrecks.
The nüvi 500 is pre-loaded with both road maps and U.S. topographic maps, while the nüvi 550 has comprehensive street map coverage of the U.S. and Canada. An optional receiver is available for tapping into Traffic Message Channel or MSN Direct. Access to the MSN Direct network allows for traffic conditions, fuel prices, weather reports, movie listings, headline news, stock updates and local events.