The Garmin Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T and 785T were recently announced and will be available on the store shelves here in the coming weeks. I was able to get my hands on a Nuvi 755T unit ahead of their launch for a review of their new offering that includes a nice handful of including an updated interface that I think makes the dead easy interface even easier and more intuitive to understand; kudos to Garmin for this subtle but well done change. It makes understanding where to go and what to do even easier while rocketing down the highway. The unit also offers 3-D buildings as well as Lane Assist, a reality like image that helps you understand what to do in difficult highway interchanges. The Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T and 785T also offer faster routing calculations and faster map drawing.
Finally, Garmin offers free traffic updates with an ad-supported model that I was a little hesitant about. After a couple of weeks of using the unit, I can offer that it's not a terrible thing. Read on for more details and the full review...
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Table of Contents
The Garmin Nuvi 755T is like any other 700 series Garmin thin, compact and powerful. The Nuvi 755 sits on the GTM-20 mount with an easy mounting and dismounting action coupling the FM receiver in the Power cord to the Nuvi through the data feeds. The single slider switch on top allows you to turn the unit on and off as well as lock it while stowing it. The mount has a single cam lever action to mount it to the dash disc that is included or the windshield.
Interface - Improved Nuvi Ease
The Nuvi 755T comes with the improved interface that started with the recent Nuvi 2X5 series and is a definite improvement in customization and ease of use. Garmin is about as easy as it gets with their interface, and they have just made it better. The new look and feel is important, a simple update that makes the unit feel relevant but beyond the new skin there is some functionality that really makes sense. A lot of the information is concentrated down the left side of the screen. Distance to turn, turn direction, traffic delay, and speed limit.
Turn indicator - While navigating in the upper left corner of the screen there is a green arrow and distance indicator that makes seeing where to turn easy. By combining the two pieces of information, a quick eyeshot to the Nuvi gives you an easy assessment of what's going on.
Customizable Data Field - Take this page from a Garmin Colorado notebook; the right data field is customizable for your use. The Nuvi has two fields down the bottom of the screen that offer useful information while driving and navigating; the right one is customizable. By tapping on the field you can select from various fields: Direction of Travel, Elevation, Time of Day. While navigating, you can flip to another set: Estimated Time of Arrival, Distance to Destination, Estimated Time to Destination, Direction of travel, Elevation, or Time of Day. A quick tap of the left data field (Speed), brings up the trip computer, where you can see speed, distance to destination, moving average speed, Max Speed, Total Time Driving, Moving Time, and Stopped Time. The trip computer is resettable, and is great for those long trips where a data-hound is driving and trying to beat a land speed record to get to the destination.
Zoom Fields - While not new, the location on the screen has changed. Previously the "+" and "-" buttons were spaced out on the corners of the screen bit they are now conveniently located together, allowing for easy one handed operation to quickly zoom out then back in when you go too far!
Speed Limits - The Nuvi 755T features speed limits displayed on the unit's screen which is a relatively recent (but not new) movement for Garmin. I have seen this on other units, where the database is plagued by bad data, and offered to have warnings alert you when you were speeding. With a bad database, the warnings are useless. The data captured by NAVTEQ for speed limits was really pretty good in my miles of driving. The speed limits were present on state roads and interstates; the speed changes were also accurate within a few feet of a newly changed speed zone. If you like the feature, the data in my use was really good. If you don't like the speed limit display, I couldn't find a way to shut it off. With accurate data finally driving the feature, I liked it. An added plus is that the display is very much like a Speed Limit sign making it an intuitive image to understand.
Faster Map Drawing - It's a subtle thing, but the Nuvi 755T has a softer interface that seems to draw maps faster by selectively drawing different layers and fading in detail overtime. So, major roads draw on a background, then minor roads, then interstate markers draw in finally accented by more minor road names and then any texturize detail to the map. It's cool to watch and offers detail at about the rate you can understand it, and internalize it without leaving you with the feeling of thinking ahead of the unit's ability to draw.... you aren't left wanting for a faster draw.
Navigation continues to be very good with the Nuvi 755T, and offers a variety of ways to select your destination, with a very complete POI listing of stores, businesses, and other municipal locations. The approximately 6 million POI's are broken down to 14 categories that make sense, allowing you to look at the category listing by closest proximity. 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 755T also allows you to search by addresses, remembering which state you are in (see right) 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 755T 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.
Garmin has continued their route-planning feature from the Nuvi 700 series that I still think is a great idea. Go to Tools Custom Routes to set these up. 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 optimize the points that are fairly well spread out as well as some city based routes that had some one-way streets and such thrown in. It performed well. Calculating a route with several stops does take a while to calculate, but overall, it's a good feature to have.
Routing to Photos - Panoramio
Garmin has is offering the ability to save images as locations or favorites that you can then elect to route to. The process is pretty easy and requires that you work through Garmin Connect, Garmin's website for sharing of routes, fitness data and pictures. You can log into Garmin connect, upload your own photos, or simply search and download existing photos to the Nuvi 755T via the USB cable.
The photos are geo-tagged and when they are downloaded to the Nuvi 755T, they are set with a location to navigate to. I selected a Logan Airport photo, downloaded it and found it in My Favorites: Where to? Favorites Panoramio Photos and then you select the image by its given title. They are arranged by how close they are to you, and you can search by title.
Garmin has improved routing so that as you are selecting your destination, the route is already starting to plan in the background - very cool, very smart. A second or two after you select a POI, for instance Children's Hospital of Boston, the unit slides out a little tab of information from the "GO!" button showing what mode it is using - automobile, the distance and the time it will take. The Nuvi is calculating the route in the background and as a result, when the little tab shows, and you hit "Go" the route is already there - no more waiting. In my torture test of navigating from my house outside of Boston to Dodger Stadium, the Nuvi 755 calculated the route in about 15 seconds and displayed it on the screen. That's a bit faster than I have seen in other units, not earth shattering, but the impression is that due to this background calculation the obvious lag after you hit "Go" is long gone.
Overall the routing on the Garmin Nuvi 755 is very good and I have no complaints at all in this area.
Traffic - Free NAVTEQ Traffic Feeds
The traffic feeds for the Nuvi 755T are fed through an FM receiver that is integrated into the 12V plug that goes into your car power outlet. Easy, simple and no other wires hanging all over the place for the FM antenna. When the Nuvi 755T encounters a delay, it will pop up a small icon on the left side of the screen with a delay estimate in terms of minutes. (See the image above in the "Interface" section.) The calculated delays were a little too kind on the Boston traffic, as they were estimating lighter traffic than I experienced. Only the Dash Express two way connected GPS offers better traffic impact estimates on travel time. With its approach to peer based data gathering it is not a surprise, but overall the navigation experience on the Garmin is superior; a trade-off to make that can only be remedied in your mind for yourself. The Garmin was smart enough to, by default, plan a route around the traffic before I got into a big mess. A plus in my book.
Ad Supported - and I'll take it
The free traffic feeds are supported by the advertising feed that comes through the NAVTEQ TMC traffic feed. It has to be simple; there's not a lot of bandwidth there, and when I read that the new system was going to plaster ads on a GPS screen I was nervous. I have to say; it's unobtrusive, and if I get free traffic as a result; I'll take it.
The ads only pop up if you are stopped for more than 10 seconds - don't worry you won't be trying to read around the ads while flying down the highway. When they do, they are pretty small little coupon looking things that when tapped bring you to a POI listing of that business.
It's early in this ad supported GPS development, but I can imagine the day when you can bring in a promotion code to get a discount or a freebie. That will be very good, traceable, and a big step up.
In the image above, I was stopped in the parking garage at the airport, where a Wells Fargo ad popped up. Note the fact that I had a satellite fix, but at the time we were sitting under a bridge or some overhead structure for a while - thus no fix. I saw ads for Wells Fargo, and Walgreens while using the Nuvi 755T.
Lane Assist - Know Which Lane Before You Miss The Turn!
I have come to love these lane assist features. Totally saves you when you are approaching a difficult turn situation. Garmin isn't the first to the game with this feature, but it's welcome nonetheless. I seem to see the Lane Assist pop up on many intersections that are anything more than just a normal off-ramp, which I admit is a big help. It appears to be limited to highways/limited access roads at this point. The image below was from my trip to Logan Airport - and yes, I am in the Ted Williams harbor tunnel when this popped up. The Nuvi 755T assumes some average speed when navigating through the tunnel, and still offered this Lane Assist help as I was approaching the Logan Airport ramp. Well done.
I was skeptical of how ads on my GPS were going to affect my ability to use it and frankly the feeling of them intruding on my life. For the free traffic service subscription, I'll take it, and since they are pretty unobtrusive, they aren't a big sacrifice. The navigation on the Nuvi 755T stands up to the test of Boston and came through offering good directions while Lane Assist helped to show the way while on the highway to get to Logan Airport. The navigation by pictures is a fun little addition, and might be a nice way to plan out a trip to some cool landmarks. Solid navigation, supported by a new and better interface makes the new Nuvi 7x5 generation of navigators an appealing set of models to consider when getting into the higher end of GPS units. With the no-subscription traffic alerts and advanced features like optimized multi-stop routing on top of an easier to understand interface with faster route processing, the Nuvi 755T is a fresh addition to the Garmin line that is worth checking out.