Product Report: Garmin nüvi 770

30 10 2008

I just got a Garmin nüvi 770. It came in yesterday, and I began playing with it today. I was out looking around the countryside – someone else was driving so I could play with it – and it seems to be pretty sweet.

To put my comments into perspective I have used, off and on over the past year, the Garmin StreetPilot 550c. With it we’ve travelled from the DC area to the west coast via Saint Louis, Denver, and Salt Lake City, returning through North Dakota, Minneapolis, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Not much traffic along those lonely roads – well, Chicago was during rush hour, but there was really only one route for us to go.

NY to DC, however, was another matter. Rush hour started while we were getting off the NJ Turnpike and on to the Delaware Turnpike. The lane changes there are messy. But, my GPS told me to get off onto a local road. Traffic was slow enough I decided to take the chance. I was routed across the overpass and back on to the Turnpike. Hmmm. But I had gained about a mile, and shortly after that traffic picked up again. Then, just before we reached the Washington Beltway I was routed off I-95 and down Rt 32 to pick up the Beltway about 3 exits around, saving probably 20 minutes. Bottom line: it worked surprisingly well. Which has nothing to do with the 770, except that the 770 also has traffic avoidance.

But back to the nüvi 770. In playing with it today I found several things that I like:

  • First and foremost, the interface is great. One of the things I liked about the 550c was its easy of use. I have been looking over the past 6 months as the other GPSs out there, but found that all but the Garmin had cumbersome interfaces with way too many screens to get to the few functions I wanted to use on a regular basis.
  • Satellite acquisition was quick. I’ve heard comments that some GPS units can take 10 to 15 minutes to acquire; the 770 was up and running in 3 minutes.
  • The screen/layout/features were the same as the 550c, so no learning curve there.
  • The device can conveniently fit into my jacket pocket, so it is easy to carry with me. HOWEVER, it did not come with a protective case so the soft plastic screen is at risk.
  • In exploring the setup options I found that tracking can be turned on, so I was able to see where I had been during the day. Including the walking around I did when I went to lunch with my wife.
  • On most of the roads I saw a speed limit sign. That is, on most of the roads on the GPS there was a speed limit sign on the left side of the screen, and the speed limit shown is the correct sped limit for that section of road.
  • I also found that way points (via points when the English lad’s or lass’s voice comes on) can be entered by latitude and longitude, making it convenient to use this for geocaching.
  • Favorites can be deleted in batch instead of one at a time. (I HATED that on the 550c!)
  • “Where Am I?” is a quick link to Hospitals, Police Stations and Fuel, and it shows my current location by nearest address, nearest intersection (of US or State routes, not local roads), and the latitudes/longitude, and elevation. (Now how can I have the elevation shown on the main map screen?)
  • HELP is built in. Like carrying a manual with me!

Anything I didn’t like? Just the missing cover.

Well, so far I like it. I will give updates.

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