Also, I have posted my Full Review of the Nuvi 755T the new addition to the Nuvi 700 series.
The Garmin Nuvi 700 series was launched at the top of the Garmin line to make steps forward in both design and functionality. The Nuvi 750/760/770 units are a change vs. the Nuvi 650/660/670 units with a thin design losing the flip up patch antenna of the Nuvi 600 series, and adding some functionality that is nicely useful.
The Nuvi 750/760/770 is a widescreen unit with a bright screen, not marginally bright, but plenty bright for sunny days. The 760/770 series also comes with a TMC traffic receiver that is integrated into the 12V plug. It has maps of North America pre-loaded.
I have been driving with the Garmin Nuvi 760 for about two weeks now, including a trip to New Jersey that had me navigating in unfamiliar territory, from the Philadelphia airport, up to the Princeton area, and back. The Nuvi 760 did a very good job of getting me to where I was going with comfort and confidence. I of course expected this; it's a Garmin.
Table of Contents
Again, the Nuvi 750/760/770 is a thin design, with no visible patch antenna that used to flip up on the Nuvi line until the Nuvi 200 and 200W lines were launched. The thin bezel surrounds the widescreen, framing it like a picture. A small microphone input is present on the left side of the Nuvi 760 for when you want to use the unit as a speaker phone. The power switch is a slider variety that you slide and it springs back to turn on and off. The slider also slides to the right to "Lock" the screen, and the power. Good move for when you are traveling and drop it in a briefcase or suitcase. Worked for me; I locked it and dropped it into my briefcase for the trip. Down the left side there is the headphone jack and the SD card slot. The bottom of the unit offers s sign that this is something more substantial than an entry model unit; not only is there a USB plug, but a data connector that plugs into the mount. It's through this data connector that the TMC traffic data and power are fed to the unit. One single rear-firing speaker adorns the back of the unit, which is right next to the external antenna input.
The Nuvi 750/760/770 mount is a cam lever mount and the cradle is a cinch to get the unit into. The cradle has two small teeth that sit on either side of the data feed contacts that settle the Nuvi into the cradle. The Nuvi snaps backwards with confidence and has the power cord (and TMC traffic feed) plugging into the cradle's right side. Since the cord doesn't come out the bottom, it allows you to snug the unit right down onto the dash if you want to. To release the Nuvi, there is a thumb button on the bottom of the cradle that is a natural feeling and easy way to release the unit. Guarantee you won't fumble with getting the Nuvi on or off the mount after doing it a couple of times.
The Nuvi 700 series has a SiRF chipset and comes with an internal battery that lasts a long time (claimed up to 5 hours); longer than most. I saw at least three hours if not more, so it was long enough for me to go a couple of days without recharging when completing shorter trips around town. I will also say that you can set the keyboard layout to either QWERTY or ABC;
Where Am I?
Garmin has added a good software feature that rearranges some functionality into a single button that can save you some time in your time of need. The unit has a nice view of your location (giving you LAT/LON coordinates, the nearest address and nearest intersection), and three buttons. These buttons give you access to special categories of Points of Interest (POI), including Hospitals, Police Stations and Fuel. Tapping on any of the buttons will get you a classic list of POI that tell you the closest to your location. I used it as a shortcut to get to a gas station while on my trip, and it was very convenient.
Garmin added a route-planning feature that I think is a nice addition. Remote planning is a function that Garmin needed on its devices, and it's something I would like to see on other models in the line, below this top of the line entry. The planning is fairly simple; add locations from either "Favorites", Addresses, LAT/LON coordinates, intersections, recently found locations, cities, by browsing the map, or Points of Interest. Add either the start or end point and then build from there. The magic can come after a bit of entry. If you are smart, you can figure out the order of things yourself, and if not, you can rely on the Garmin to do it for you by hitting the "Optimally Reorder Points". In my testing the unit could easily optimize the points that are fairly well spread out, and logical in the results. In other words, the Garmin does a good job on the easy stuff. I also tried out a route in Boston, laying in some addresses that were on one-way streets, and in places that are not always easy to decide which way is fastest. The Nuvi 760 did a good job, and was able to pick its way across town in short order. Since I don't have an evil twin to do the "Other" route who knows if it was perfectly optimized, but after gathering a quorum of Boston natives, we thought it did a pretty good job. I like it. Calculating a route with several stops does take a while to calculate, but overall, it's a good feature to have.
A trip log is essentially a breadcrumb trail that allows you to see where you have gone and track yourself on the screen. It leaves a light blue trail on the road where you have been. So, this might be good for back tracking, but that functionality isn't in the unit, and in the case of you traveling on a one way street or highway, you wouldn't want to backtrack exactly the way you came anyway.
"My Data" is not necessarily a new feature, but it is a way to handle your data that is now a bit bigger due to all the features in the Nuvi 750/760/770. You can "Set Home Location", "Delete Favorites", "Delete Routes", and "Clear Trip Log". All useful, all pretty self-explanatory.
Other Nuvi 750/760/770 Features
Garmin has a nice approach to the TMC traffic receiver for the Nuvi 600 and 700 series, in that they have the traffic receiver built right into the 12-volt plug. The stub that goes into the power outlet is a bit longer than others, but this design is much better than having other wires hanging off the back of the unit.
Briefly, TMC traffic is fed over the FM spectrum by Clear Channel radio stations across the country that sneak into TMC traffic channels as a data feed. That data feed is interpreted by your GPS and overlays the information onto the map, with speed ratings and incident reports. So while you don't need a subscription to "run your GPS", you will need a subscription to the TMC traffic feed after the 3-month free trial that comes with the Nuvi 760.
Coverage of roads is always a question, and that coverage is limited to most major roads around major cities. That coverage is expanding at a rapid pace, and I think that traffic capability in GPS units is still in its infancy. As we include Historical Average Speeds into GPS units, we will see the usefulness increase dramatically.
The Nuvi 750T/760/770 GPS pulls in traffic data pretty quickly, but not as quick as it pulls in a satellite signal. So on my way to Boston Logan Airport, I didn't have traffic data pulling out of my driveway, but within minutes the other morning, I knew I was in for a mess going up the Southeast Expressway into Boston on my way to the airport. The Nuvi 760 automatically sets the optimal route if it knows about traffic issues, and will route you around them if a better route can be found. In my case, the traffic built ahead of me as I drove, so a small traffic icon popped up in the lower right corner announcing the traffic issue and the expected delay in terms of minutes. By hitting the traffic icon, it allows me to route around the issue onto side roads. I had some mixed results on the way to the airport as the Nuvi routed me onto surface roads that were busy, but not totally clogged, leaving me scratching my head as to whether or not I was better off. This is where the historical average speed data would have come in handy. It would have predicted the slow surface roads, but this capability is still in the future, hopefully the not too distant future. Anyway, the Nuvi routed me back onto the highway after a while and then back off again, but this time it nailed it getting me onto a surface road that from the looks of it only the pureblood locals knew about. I left a lot of traffic in the dust, and arrived at the airport a few minutes earlier than I would have if I were stuck in traffic.
When I was in NJ later that day, it saved me again as it gave me a surface road around a half-mile tie up at a traffic light saving me a few minutes there on the way to a business dinner. Twice in one day is pretty good. Perfect yet? No, but well worth the upgrade and the annual subscription if you are in traffic on a regular basis.
When the Nuvi encounters traffic ahead, it will attempt to route you around it ahead of time, but in this case, we had no choice and were into it before I programed the Nuvi. This changes things a little bit and allows you to at least understand what you are in for (a short delay in this case), which is actually great to know. Not knowing definitely causes some stress; but you already know that if you've been in a back up in the past.
There is an MSN traffic receiver available for the Nuvi 700 series, and would be a fair choice for those who want gas pricing information. I went through a discussion on MSN traffic and the MSN direct service for my Nuvi 680 review. If you want more information, check it out.
Bluetooth Handsfree - Nuvi 760/770
The Nuvi 760 offered me an easy way to pair my Blackberry, without consulting the manual and in a few minutes I was off and running. The Bluetooth handsfree ability allows you to use the Nuvi to make phone calls. The Nuvi does a very good job of handling your data, and giving you decent sound quality.
The Nuvi 760 imported my phone book and my recently called numbers; not all GPS units do this. Now, I don't drive some super quiet Lexus kindof car, and so road noise is a consideration here, and despite that the call quality is good on the other end, but not something you want to do forever, as the overall sound quality on a mobile is not the best. I like the fact that the Points of Interest (POI) have the phone numbers right in there, which makes it easy to get in touch with restaurants, businesses or hotels while driving.
Changing Vehicle Icons
Garmin introduced the ability to change your vehicle icon a while back, and it's a great way to make the device your own. The Garmin site has a few dozen vehicles you can download and put on your Nuvi, including a few like the Elroy Jetson Space Ship and the Clark Griswold family truckster. Changing these is easy if you can navigate a computer. Go to the Garmin website, and see the directions to download the icon onto your computer; you then connect your Nuvi to your computer with the USB cable, and open up the Nuvi icon under "My Computer". Get the vehicle icon file "*.srf" and drop it into the "vehicles" folder on the Nuvi.
Disconnect the Nuvi from the computer, start it and then go to "Tools -> Settings-> Map-> Vehicle/Change" Select the one you like and hit OK.
The FM Transmitter is a way for you to play music and also navigation commands over your in car stereo. The Nuvi needs relatively clear radio spectrum to do this, and you then get music that is paused briefly to give you a turn command and then it sends you back to the music, seamlessly. The issue for me is that around the Boston metro area, there is very little free bandwidth into which the Nuvi can transmit. So as a result you get interference with the other radio stations and very mediocre results overall. Nothing I could stand for a long trip. So, in crowded metro areas, don't count on this being a huge benefit. This is no different than other units that try this feature; it's just how it is.
Media Player/Picture Viewer
The media player would be fantastic if I could get the FM transmitter to work in my area; as it would allow me to listen to music, or even audio books on my commute, mixing turn commands in with ease. The Garmin Media Player interface is a good one, better than most. It allows you to navigate and play music, which believe it or not is not always the case on low-end models from no-name GPS makers. If you want to deal with the hassle, you have the option of using the headphone jack to feed your stereo, and then you get all this benefit.
The photo viewer is pretty cool, and it allows you to add photos to the unit and watch a slide show of them. It also allows you to personalize the splash screen so that you see your picture when the unit turns on instead of a Nuvi placard. The unit comes loaded with some classic travel photos that really show off the capabilities of the screen, so if you want to see all the brilliance of the Nuvi 750/760/770 screen, check out the photo viewer. I was able to pull the SD Card out of my camera and drop it into the Nuvi 760 to watch a slide show of the pictures I just took.
Believe it or not, navigation is almost an afterthought in writing up this review as the Nuvi 750/760/770 does it well. Garmin has navigation done right, and doesn't need a lot of tweaks here. They allow you to pretty easily find Points of Interest, or addresses and offer solid routes to get to those locations. There are navigation preferences that are user selectable, including vehicle type (Car, Bicycle, Pedestrian), as well as avoidances that you can choose (U-turns, Highways, Toll Roads, Traffic, Ferries). Here I would like the ability to indicate that I can or cannot use a carpool lane. This will be something that is coming in the future as it requires a lot of map data information; lane specific encoding, and time of day closures or switchovers as these lanes are sometimes only separated by a single barrier and alternate directions depending on the commuting hours.
I thought that it was interesting to see that Garmin added a Speed limit icon to the screen on the left. I have seen these in the past, and they were terribly inaccurate on other manufacturer's models, but for all of the highways that I traveled on the Garmin speed limit was accurate.
The selection of your destination is easy, with a very complete POI listing of stores, businesses, and other municipal locations. The POI's are broken down to 14 categories that make sense, allowing you to look at the category listing by closest proximity, and then if you had a specific location in mind, you can then search within that category by spelling out the name. Tap on one location and you can see the address, the phone number with the option to see the map of the location and then go there if you decide that's where you want to go.
The Garmin Nuvi 750/760/770 also allows you to search by addresses, remembering which state you are in so that you have an easier time limiting your search for a town and a specific address. You are able to search by intersection, which allows you to type in a road and the unit then offers you the cross roads as a place you can navigate to. The Garmin Nuvi 750/760/770 has the ability to navigate you to the city center via a stand-alone button, which is not under the "Address" button; easier searching to get to the center of a city if that's what you need. You can also navigate to a set of LAT/LON coordinates, which I think is very helpful, if you are navigating to a location like a trailhead where the coordinates may have been documented without an actual street address.
I will also say that you can set the keyboard layout to either QWERTY or ABC; a big help for those folks who are picky about how to enter data. I am. The QWERTY layout makes the keys a little smaller, while the ABC layout isn't as familiar to those who type on a keyboard all the time. (To change the option go to Tools-> Settings-> System->Keyboard layout).
Finally, the Garmin Nuvi 750/760/770 offers you the ability to change your search parameters. So the default is to search around your location, which is fairly logical, but you can also search along your current route, allowing you to find a place to eat on that roadtrip, or search near your destination. This is particularly helpful if you need to find a hotel near your destination, or a gas station near the airport where you are returning that rental car; easy to avoid about $50+ in re-fueling charges by navigating to the airport, and then searching for a gas station "Near Destination" for a quick normal price re-fuel option.
Right on the main menu, tapping "Detour" is an option that allows you to detour around a problem ahead of you; usually just in front of you. I think of it as a "Hey I'm stuck and I need to detour now" button, and not a button that allows you to pick what roads on your route you don't like and navigate around them.
When you are done with your route you can easily go into the main screen at tap on the "Stop" button to halt routing. This is a small item, but it's a good way to understand the value of the Garmin interface. Other makers, including TomTom and Mio make it more difficult to stop the route and the route commands, requiring a few more taps that make the overall experience just a little bit more difficult.
Nuvi 750 vs. Nuvi 760 vs. Nuvi 770 - What's the Difference?
Nuvi 750 - Widescreen, North American Maps, slim design, "Routes" capable, optional to purchase antenna for TMC traffic (Not included, but unit is TMC traffic capable).
Nuvi 760 - Adds Bluetooth handsfree and TMC traffic antenna,
Nuvi 770 - Adds European Maps in addition to the North American Maps.
As expected the Garmin Nuvi 750/760/770 is a solid performer, navigating routes with ease, and confidence. I would rate it a Top Pick for the GPS buyers and for the months to come. Clearly takes its rightful place at the top of the Garmin line. The wide, bright screen with the new layout of buttons allows for quick easy entry of information and data. The Nuvi 750/760/770 has a lot of features, which brings along a lot of options and changes to be made. Despite this plethora of options and settings, the Garmin interface allows for easy navigation around these features in a logical way.
The new slim design is a nice update, and I welcome the improvements to the system with the addition of the "Where am I?" button that is convenient and offers confidence to find help when you need it. I personally love the multi-point routing and the option to optimize the destinations to get the best route. I'd love to see at least the multi-point routing on the reset of the line, and while it might stay on the top of the line for a while, I'd like to see the route optimization work down the line too. The changes made here are not revolutionary in the GPS world, and versus the Nuvi 600 series, but they are significant enough to make those looking at the Nuvi 600 series to think again and consider the Nuvi 700 series before making their purchase decision. As the Nuvi 700 series moves into the market, I fully expect that the prices for the Nuvi 750/760/770 to be close enough to the Nuvi 650/660/670 to be enticing and small enough to make that trade-up easy.