Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gadget review: Garmin nüvi 765T

As a long-time frequent traveler, I'm also a long-time automotive GPS user. The first one I had was a Garmin iQue, which was a Palm OS-based unit. It served me well for several years, but when Garmin introduced the nüvi line right about the time my iQue was starting to give out, I got myself a nüvi 350, which I reviewed here.

The 350 was a great device and served me well for over three years, but about mid-way through that period, the power switch started acting up and I had to send it to Garmin for repair. Garmin's service in this regard, by the way, is superb. The power switch on the 350 is a pressure switch and this problem cropped up again a few months ago, at which time I decided it was time to retire the unit and upgrade. A few weeks ago, my nüvi 765T arrived and a few minor quibbles aside, I couldn't be happier.

As one would expect, the 765T provides everything the 350 did, and then some. When I got the 350, I thought I'd never use the built-in MP3 player, but quickly found I couldn't live without it (see the 350 review linked above to see why), so of course I made sure this model included that feature (not all models in the nüvi line do). What this one offers that the 350 didn't (and that I'll actually use):
  • Wide (4.3") screen
  • Traffic alerts with re-routing
  • Bluetooth support for cell phone
First, the bigger screen. Just like TVs, bigger is better, especially with my aging eyes. 'Nuff said.

As for the traffic alerts, I'm not completely sold on this yet. During a drive to Raleigh, NC a few weeks ago (my first trip with this unit), it threw an alert for heavy traffic on I-85 near Henderson, NC. Having been through the area before, I know that it's traffic-prone, so I took the suggested reroute, which was a pleasant (and fast) enough ride. On the return trip, it threw the alert near the same area, but showed that the area I was driving through was heavy traffic and yet it was moving fine. I suspected that the traffic update service (which is broadcast on the FM band to the unit) was sending outdated traffic info. So clearly, this isn't a problem with the nüvi 765T, but rather the traffic service provider.

The Bluetooth feature - like the MP3 player in the nüvi 350 - was something I didn't figure I'd use since I already have a Bluetooth headset. But after trying it once, I find myself using it any time I'm in the car for any length of time. When you place or receive a call, the MP3 player pauses playback and mutes any turn announcements. Audio playback and turn announcements automatically resume when you end the call. As an added plus, the nüvi imports the call history log and the phone's address book. At least with my Blackberry...I haven't tried it yet with any other phones.

The 765T also provides an icon on the screen to let you know in which direction your next turn will be, something the 350 lacked. This is very useful and something I'd seen in other older units such as the Tom Tom and it always mildly annoyed me that the 350 lacked it.

Another nice thing about the newer GPS units is the absence of a flip-up antenna. I never had a problem with the antenna on the nüvi 350, but they are subject to breakage. An external antenna jack is provided for increased satellite reception.

One thing the 350 had that the 765T doesn't is a "bug" on the screen indicating north. I didn't think that was such a big deal, but I want it back! It seems that's something that Garmin could add through a simple software update.

One last my old nüvi 350, the 765T came with a suction cup windshield mount. I hate those things, and in fact, they're illegal in California. I long ago got a Garmin "beanbag" mount, which is a weighted mount that simply sits on the dash. It's well worth the few bucks and doesn't leave nasty marks on the windshield.

Note: I receive no compensation or promotional considerations for any gadgets I review here. Who would pay me for this drivel, anyway?


Mr. Bingley said...

The suction thingies are illegal in California? Why?

Ca thrives on things that suck...

Eric said...

I assume they're illegal because some idiot mounted one directly in his line of sight and caused an accident, so in true California fashion, everyone had to pay for the stupidity of one.

Or maybe CA lawmakers just wanted a monopoly on suck.

Mr. Bingley said...

I do still use my 350. they keep bugging me to 'update' the maps but i just don't feel like spending the money, as it still works fine.

Eric said...

I updated my maps once in the 3 years I used the 350, but it probably wasn't really necessary.

Have you ever had the problem with the power switch on yours?

Mr. Bingley said...

no, but i don't think i've used mine anywhere near as much as you have (i only use it once every couple of months).

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