Nuvis are for consumers
May 13, 2010
Review by Bram Frank
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Excellent form factor, sensitive receiver, quick turn on, simple interface
Cons:Poor speakerphone, can't configure display fields, no carrying case, tech support full of itself.
The Bottom Line: Inexpensive and feature laden, it provides excellent value. For reasons related to Garmin having changed the GUI I would buy this over the later 765 and 1300 series units.
Moved because somehow this review and others for the 760 somehow wound up in the Nuvi 260 section . . . .
Recommend this product?
I now have a Nuvi 760 installed on the windshield of my car.
I happen to like Garmin navigators in general, but the Nuvi and Zumo series miss the mark for the 'experienced' among us - and quality is lacking somewhat in some areas as well.
I used to start all of my reviews with an explanation of what GPS is all about - it took up a lot of room, so I've edited the text out of those reviews and am posting a link to one of my early posts: http://www.epinions.com/content_147941396100
Search my other GPS reviews and you'll be able to read about my background, but the summary is that I am lucky to have access to any navigator I want for review and I have owned quite a few of them.
Garmin (and everyone else in the industry) has been releasing new products at a furious rate. It has become extremely confusing for the average consumer. Selecting a unit is itself quite the chore because the array of models does not clearly identify the differences - I commend Garmin for having a model comparison mechanism on their web site - you just click the models that you are interested in (too bad you can't just click them all) and they highlight the differences . . . very useful, assuming you know what it is you need.
Essentially, the first digit in the model is the 'series' and the second digit defines the basic features - and 'more is better'.
The series (that first digit) defines the package; the screen aspect ratios, whether the antenna is flip-out or not and (with some exceptions) basic feature availability such as FM transmitters, tracklogs and waypoints. For example, the value of some niceties, such as the tracklog aren't obvious to the newbie. Want to know more about tracklogs? Read some of my other reviews.
Within the 700 series the 750 is a basic navigator without a Bluetooth connection, the 760 adds Bluetooth and a traffic receiver and the 780 upgrades the traffic receiver to an MSN Direct receiver. You can upgrade or downgrade any 700 series navigator to either traffic or MSN Direct service by purchasing the appropriate receiver (which is in the cigarette lighter plug) separately.
ALL of the various navigators from Garmin use the same map subsets for the covered areas and they have the same POI (Points Of Interest) databases and they all route using the same algorithms, so if all you need is a basic unit, a 200 (with maps of the US only on board) may be enough.
The 700 series has a widescreen display which is VERY nice and the additional features available on the higher end units, coupled to the fact that navigators are getting downright CHEAP makes a higher end unit more affordable.
By way of example, the 760 won several 'best navigator out there', ratings when it was released last year. And this was when it cost almost a thousand dollars!!! The price was down to $390 when I got mine (what I paid isn't important).
The rapidly dropping prices means that there are some anomalies out there, with lesser units sometimes selling for more than 'better' ones. So why would you spend more for a lesser unit? Do some homework before putting your money down.
What follows are my impressions of the 760:
The 760 replaces a 680 (I'll be writing a review on that model next) which in turn replaced the Zumo 550 that I transplanted between my car and my motorcycles.
The 700 series was (until last week's release of the 800) Garmin's top vehicular navigator.
Out of the box one I noticed an interesting anomaly; There was no carrying slipcase in the box. This is not a mistake, but is a sign of the times - prices are tightening up and manufacturers are starting to trim the physical stuff they include. My Zumo 550 came with a plug-in-the-wall charger AND a carrying case. The 700 series did not, yet they both interface the same way (via the USB port).
The unit mounts to the windshield using a suction cup, the same as the Zumo - but note that there are some jurisdictions that will not allow you to legally do this (not that anyone pays attention to local statutes of this type).
The usual installation has the unit mounted under the mirror - mine is suctioned to the upper left side of the windshield with the power cord routed to the left end of the dash - I have installed a cigarette lighter socket there because that's where the fuse block for the car is located - quick, simple and extremely neat.
The suction cup is very strong, but I do suggest removing it and 'resuctioning' it from time to time - the rubber they use seems to want to glue itself to the glass and conversely, from time to time (on hot days) I have found the unit hanging from it's wire after 'letting go'. I am not going to glue it to the glass, so periodic removal and re-installation is the obvious solution.
But there is a drawback to mounting the unit on the left - the microphone for the Bluetooth speakerphone is on the left side of the housing and where I have it, it seems to focus out the window. So I have installed using an external microphone (extra cost option from Garmin) as a result.
The built in antenna means that if the unit is at the very top of the windshield, it is more likely to shielded to some degree from satellites than a unit with a flip-out antenna - actually unless it is installed at the BOTTOM of the windshield, it will always be unable to see some satellites to the rear. It isn't in any way deadly, but it can impact of TTFF (time to first fix) and accuracy (believe me, it is good enough for vehicular use even so).
For those who care (or need it), an external antenna can be installed.
I have a friend who drives a Chrysler 300 - he has his 780 installed in the flip-down eyeglass case in his headliner - very neat because no one can tell he has a navigator - he can just close the door and the unit is completely out of sight. But it can't see the sky at all because the car's roof completely shields the unit, so he has an external antenna.
The unit is, in Garmin Nuvi tradition very simple and intuitive to operate.
The unit powers on with the application of power or by operating a switch on the upper left edge of the device. The switch has three positions - 'normal' in the center, to the left is the 'toggle power' function and to the right is a 'lock' which prevents the unit from being accidentally turned on (or off) - for example when in your purse.
Nuvi is Garmin's consumer line-up and ease of operation has been the watchword of the series. Clearly icon-identified touch points make using the unit a breeze.
On initial power-up the unit scans for satellites and you can set the locale (time zone, units of measure and so on) and once locked in, a menu offering the choices of 'where to' and 'view map' will display. Subsequent power-ups take you to the menu, by passing the selection criteria - why they don't go straight to map is not clear to me, but all the new units work this way.
Touch the map icon and it will display.
Once the map is onscreen '+' and '-' touchpoints on the screen allow you to zoom in and out on the map - but in my opinion, if you want the map to be useful, go into the map settings and set it up for 'most' detail.
If you touch the 'speed' box you will be taken to the trip computer where you can see the speed, and get statistics and odometer readings.
A 'menu button' in the center of the map at the bottom takes one to a selection screen that allows the user to interact with the device - you can select a destination - either from a waypoint saved, a POI item, an address and more. Several icons on the bottom of the menu screen allow you to go into 'telephone' mode if you've mated your phone to the device, to a media screen or to the setup menu.
Nuvi can be an MP3 player (and it can also play Audible books if you purchase them). Your media goes in a readily available SD card (not included). You can also display photographs, though the point of this is lost on me - I do not want to be staring at pictures while driving.
To your computer Nuvi looks like a disk drive. You simply copy music into the SD card while the unit is plugged in. You can also use Nuvi as a very expensive data dongle - it will store any file that will fit in the storage medium - I have a 2 Gig card in mine. I figured that for $7 I could be a sport.
While there is a built in speaker, the 700 series also has an FM transmitter. Audio can be routed to this on an all-or-nothing basis. You can select a free channel (or Nuvi can hunt one down for you) and your music will be played (in Stereo) and your speakerphone and directions will also be announced through the radio. However, you need to be tuned to Nuvi's channel, so if you are a talk radio junkie the transmitter isn't going to be of much use - besides the quality of the audio is 'muffled'. Better to plug Nuvi into the auxiliary input of your car stereo if you have one or to just leave the music capabilities unused.
The telephone interface is common to all of the Nuvi & Zumo Bluetooth-equipped products. You have to mate the two and remember to specify that the Nuvi is a 'car kit' otherwise you will not be able to initiate calls from the navigator.
There is a way to get all of your phone's contacts into the device and you can then dial from the screen and the unit will display the incoming callers names if they are on the list. But the list does not automatically update, so you will have to update the Nuvi from time to time as you add contacts.
Strangely, no voicemail notifications or other text is available on the screen . . . but again, that is the common-to-Garmin interface.
The speakerphone sucks. Plain and simple. My phone worked just fine with my Zumo. No one likes the quality of the Nuvo 760 phone interface and they say 'it breaks up'. Since Zumo did (and does) work fine, it isn't the phone, nor is it the specific unit I am using because I tried three of them.
The display is bright and quite clear. Because all of the widescreen Nuvis have the same resolution, about the only difference is the backlighting - the 760 display is brighter and smoother than the 680's was. Either is acceptable for the consumer, always taking into consideration my preference for a higher quality display.
The unit has TTS (Text To Speech) that 'speaks' the street names. It is a neat feature, but is more of a gadget, again because of my history. because I live in Quebec, the pronounciation of French names sometimes has us breaking into gales of laughter, but nonetheless it is a neat feature. I am perfectly satisfied with the older style 'turn left in 300 metres' approach which can be selected in the language menu.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ATTENTION TONE?
Garmin used to offer an option that had the unit precede each announcement with a tone to get the user's attention. I miss this feature.
The 700 series supports 'routes'. It also will organise a list of destinations into the most efficient order - very useful in this age of expensive gasoline.
However, all is not perfect in the land of Nuvi. For someone like me, who likes to customise the display, it is annoying.
I would like to have the time of day on the screen - Nuvi only offers it in the setup screen. I would like to be able to assign data to the available display fields - Nuvi insists on showing me the time to destination (but no speed) when I am navigating. I always want to know how fast I'm going and can press a button to know when I'm going to get to where I'm headed.
But the simple fact is that the vast majority of users will care a lot more about the 2D/3D switchable map display (excellent) - but here too, I'm spoiled. I MUCH prefer the 2D display on the 276c over anything Garmin has released since.
Nuvi does something 'new' with the 700 series - you now have a 'qwerty' keyboard on the touchscreen for input - as we've all gained computer skills, the old 'abcd' keyboards were a pain - Nuvi's keyboard is simple to use and the touchscreen is pretty darned accurate. There is an 'eraser' button (backspace) and a couple of arrow keys to let you move the cursor to correct spelling errors.
Missing however is the real-time database searches that older units had. As you typed the name a list would appear (and be shortened as you enter additional letters). This provides real time dynamic feedback to the operator and allows him to correct his search as he types - Nuvi 700 simply pops up the one or two possible matches when the list is short enough or when you hit 'done' - so you have no idea that you are 'going off course' when entering a street name.
The 700 series has a tracklog. The display of the tracklog data can be toggled on and off - a very useful feature if you've been 'there' before and need a bit of help getting there again. Why? Because one doesn't necessarily have to add a waypoint and route to it if it is only for a couple of times.
700 series also accepts PPOI (Proximity Points of Interest) from your computer. A neat feature, you can define (or download from the web) important locations and have the unit warn you as you approach them, optionally limiting the warning to sound only if you are exceeding a specified rate of speed Think speed trap or red light camera warnings . . . very useful.
The included traffic receiver supposedly works where I am now. But the device does not work for me in spite of the fact that the MSN Direct receiver does. And, I'm not alone in this. But as it is a subscription service in North America, I for one find it's utility to be questionable. MSN Direct offers more than just traffic - though locally I can't get gas prices for my area (though they do display prices for a city 90 minutes away), just movie listings and weather forecasts. The MSN Direct feature is therefore more 'useful' to me than the traffic and could well justify an upgrade to the 780 over the 760.
The key differences between the 760 and the lesser 680 are;
- The 760 antenna is 'internal' to the case of the device - the 680 uses a flip up antenna like the 350 series. The 760's arrangement means that there's nothing sticking out, but that also can affect sensitivity, depending on the placement of the device
- The processor in the 700 series is faster than that of the 600 series - the result being that battery life (for handheld use) is somewhat reduced on the 700 series
- The 600 series came with a leatherette carrying case - for some reason the 700 did not. Kudos to the 600 on this one.
- The 700 series has a neat feature that 'marks' the spot where you parked your car with an icon. So if you park in a large open parking lot (with a sky view) and you take your navigator with you, you can automatically find your way back to the car - mind you, you COULD always create a waypoint on your 600 series - though that requires the user to do it manually.
- The 700 series offers the aforementioned tracklog feature.
As with any complex computing device, there can be problems or issues. Garmin has an effective software updating feature that works through your computer and the Internet. They update the software periodically and you can subscribe to a notification service and then simply invoke their 'update wizard' which will prompt the user to plug his unit in and guide him through the process. All very nice.
On the other hand, my unit is supposed to be eligible for a free mapping update (based on the activation date), but a bug in their system has them using the manufacturing date, rather than the activation date - so, as is becoming the norm, Garmin's backward tech support is being a pain in the butt about the matter.
In the end, the question is - is it worth it?
The answer is that, while it may not be perfect, it works well enough and is cheap enough to get a 'recommended' from me.
Nuvi 760 Specifications:
Physical & Performance:
Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 4.8"W x 3.0"H x .8"D (12.2 x 7.6 x 2.0 cm)
Display size, WxH: 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
Display type: WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
Weight: 6.2 ounces (176 g)
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 5 hours
High-sensitivity receiver: yes
RoHS version available: yes
Maps & Memory:
Preloaded maps: yes
Ability to add maps: yes
Built-in memory: internal solid state
Accepts data cards: SD™ card (not included)
Voice prompts (e.g. "Turn right in 500 ft."): yes (internal speaker)
Speaks street names (e.g. "Turn right ON ELM STREET in 500 ft.") : yes
Speech recognition (navigate with voice commands): no
3D map view: yes
Auto sort multiple destinations (provides most direct route): yes
Auto re-route (fast off-route and detour recalculation): yes
Choice of route setup (faster time, shorter distance, off road): yes
Route avoidance (avoid highways, tolls etc.): yes
Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest): yes
Hands-free calling with Bluetooth® wireless technology: yes
FM traffic compatible: yes
XM® Navtraffic (includes basic weather) & Radio for U.S. compatible: no
MSN® Direct for U.S. compatible: yes
Where Am I? feature (find closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection): yes
Car locator feature (marks position when removed from windshield mount): yes
MP3 player: yes
Audio book player: yes
Picture viewer: yes
Configurable vehicle icons (select car-shaped icons for map navigation): yes
World travel clock, currency & measurement converter, calculator: yes
Qwerty or ABC keyboard (choose keyboard layout): yes
Remote control: no
FM transmitter: yes
Headphone jack/audio line-out: yes
Dead reckoning: no
Garmin Lock™ (anti-theft feature): yes
Additional: This USB mass storage device is compatible with Windows® 2000 or later and Mac® OS X 10.4 or later.
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