Review of Garmin nuve 765T GPS Navigation Unit

Garmin has long been a leader in GPS navigation. With the soaring rise in popularity of automobile navigation, Garmin has worked hard to maintain that lead despite competition from other manufacturers such as Tom Tom and Magellan. Garmin’s current line is named nuve and this review is for the 765T which is around the middle of the pack of their vast offering. Rather than go into detail, I will refer you instead to this excellent review by GPS Magazine. I will limit my review to a few points I think their review overlooked as well as summarize my opinion of the unit. My first unit was a Garmin C-330 (pre-nuve) and only provided the basics so I will briefly highlight some of the advances in the 765T over this older model.

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Dumb it Down Please

Garmin’s earlier auto navigation units were expensive and bulky but full of features. One problem however was that many people found them just too difficult to use. So Garmin quickly simplified the units starting with their C series. These were small units about the size of a baseball that provided basic navigation and a very small learning curve. As soon as you turned on the unit you only had two choices… Where To and View Map! and this is still mostly true today. However, in their quest to simplify they left out some rather basic GPS features some folks really missed and others felt were essential. They finally began to include these features in some of the newer models higher up in the nuve food chain so you can get them if you are willing to pay a little more. A couple of these features include: 

  • Custom Saved Routes – the ability to define multiple points from start to destination and save as a named route
  • Enter a Destination using Coordinates rather than an address or Point of Interest (POI) location 

Custom Saved Routes

Most of the Garmin units including the current nuve series do not permit custom routes and I do not understand why. This is one of those features I feel are essential to any GPS. I may use it rarely but when I need it, I really need it. A custom route simply allows you to define multiple, intermediate points along the trip to ensure the Garmin routes you the way you want to go rather than the way it calculates. Custom routes are only helpful when you already know the route you want to take and are using the Garmin to prompt you for turns (so you don’t miss them) or ensure someone takes the route you know is best. The 7×5 and 8×5 series do offer this feature (there may be others so feel free to inform me if there are more).

Without the Custom Routes feature, your only choice is to identify your destination and let the unit calculate the best route based on your preference settings. You can save only the destination and so the nuve is free to determine how to get there. While this will get you there, you are limited to the route the unit has chosen. Most of the time, you will not know the best route so this is good enough. And while you may not always agree with the route it chooses, it will get you to your intended destination. However there are times having some control over the route it preferable and this where Custom Routes are great. Here is an example…

My wife or daughter is going on a road trip without me. With a saved route, I can be confident of the route the Garmin will use to get them to their destination. Otherwise, the unit is more free to choose any route it wants. Get a little off of the intended route and the Garmin might recalculate a completely different route. In case they have problems I want to know which route they are taking and be assured it is the safest one.

For example the Garmin will choose a route to our condo in Destin, Florida from Atlanta by going through Montgomery, Alabama. However, from Montgomery down to the beach is a few hours of narrow country roads through tiny towns and minimal civilization. So we prefer to take a slightly longer route through Columbus, Ga, Decatur, Alabama and down to I-10. It’s still highway most of the way and feels like a safer route. With custom routes, I can rest assured that the unit will route them through Columbus, GA rather than Montgomery. Since I can program multiple, intermediate points along the route, I can be assured the 765T will route us around Decatur rather than taking us right through the busy downtown section while shorter in distance, results in longer trip time due to the congested traffic.

Many of the units will allow one middle point (called a Via Point) but it’s not very intuitive how to get the Via Point programmed. On long trips, it may take more than one intermediate point to ensure the device uses the route you intend so the Custom Route feature comes to the rescue. The 765T will allow you create and save up to 10 custom routes and each route can have plenty of points. Most routes will only need a few intermediate points to ensure you travel as intended.

Tip on Creating Custom Routes

If the 765T is generating a route for your trip that is not to your liking, create a Custom Route with one or more intermediate points to nudge it in the right direction. I discovered that using intersections to identify an intermidiate point does not work well. In almost every case, the nuve will force you to turn at the intersection and them immediately route you back to the direction you were travelling. Hopefully Garmin will get this issue resolved.

To get around this, just pick an address that is on the route but not near an intersection. Google Maps can help here. Just set your route in Google Maps by entering your starting and ending addresses and then drag the route line on the map to match your intended route. Once it’s where you want, pick about where you need an intermediate point and zoom down to street view level. From there Google Maps will provide an exact or estimated address. Use this address as your route point and you will be good to go. Finally, start the nuve navigating using your route. Once navigation begins, touch the bar at the top of the screen to see a list of every turn in the calculated route. This allows you to verify the route is going the say you intended. If it still takes a road you do not prefer, go edit your route again and add another intermediate point somewhere on the road you want. Repeat this until the unit shows the exact route you want to travel. Unless you are travelling far off the best route, you should only need very few points to adjust your route.

 

Using Coordinates

This is not a must have feature but was nice to see Garmin add this back in some of the units in their nuve series. It allows you to mark a point and save it without having to enter a specific address. This is useful if an address is not exactly where the Garmin thinks it is. Although rare, I have seem some addresses nearly two blocks off. The ability to enter a GPS location using standard Coordinate notation is also a nice and was missing from the C-330. This helps with navigating while on foot and for Geo-Caching, a recreation game where you use your GPS to locate a series of clues and then finally locate a final treasure. Once the coordinates have been entered, you can save them as a named POI.

 

Just the Facts Ma’am

Overall, the unit is a significant improvement from my older C-330 and I love having the ability to create and save custom routes. Also appreciated is the larger “next turn” prompt always in the upper left corner which clearly shows the direction of the next turn. The C-330 would tell how far the next turn was but you had to press it to see and hear the direction. Also nice is that in multiple-lanes, it show multiple arrows. This is one part of the new “Lane Assist” feature that sort of works. It is supposed to also show the photo realistic images of which lane you are in and which lane you should be in but I have yet to see this appear. It’s primary use if for multi-lane highways where it really can be difficult to know which lane is the one you should be in.

The TTS voice prompts is not as nice as the prerecorded voice in the C-330 but is better than you might expect and the pronunciation of the street names have been surprisingly good and useful. The FM transmitter is truly useless so getting audio to your car system will need to use wires. This makes the MP3 player and Bluetooth features less attractive as well. For me the GPS features are why I use a GPS so the media and Bluetooth stuff means little. If Garmin would quit worrying about keeping up with competition (the FM transmitter is embarrassing) and instead continue to innovate in the GPS features such as Custom Routes , they would have a happier customer base.

Pros

  • Excellent screen graphics, colors and clarity
  • Text-to-Speech (TST) voices allow the name of the street/road of your next turn to be audibly announced (not in the C-330). Pronunciation was very accurate.
  • Easy mounting/dismounting from the windshield mount. Power cord connects to the mount and not directly to the unit itself.
  • Excellent GPS receiver – is able to locate itself much faster than the older C-330. Unit will work almost anywhere in the car.
  • Bluetooth capability for hands-free calling and external audio. Easy to pair the devices and worked well although the interface requires far to many different screens to dial, disconnect, etc.
  • Main screen now shows your next turn’s distance and direction all the time. Touch for more details and audible instructions.
  • Improved navigation prompting – the C-330 would often needlessly say “stay left in 0.1 miles” when you were actually going straight through an intersection. The 765T appears to have rectified this annoying attribute.
  • Nearly 2 GB of standard memory available for photos or MP3 files even before adding an external SD card.
  • Easy connection to your PC via a standard USB cable (provided). You can easily copy your photos and music files right to the unit.

Cons

  • FM Transmitter is too weak to be of any use. Will need to use the external audio jack for an external FM transmitter or other connection if you want external audio.
  • The so called “Free life-time Traffic service” causes ad prompts to appear on random screens and take up precious screen space. No way to turn this off unless you subscribe to a paid service. Many folks will return the unit or not purchase a Garmin based on this one annoyance alone. Garmin has got to remedy this travesty quickly.
  • The Bluetooth capability for hands-free calling works but the interface requires far too many screens when using making it more dangerous than helpful.
  • Battery-life is only around 3-4 hours while the C-330 was nearly 8 hours. Battery should be interchangeable by user but requires sending back to Garmin. Didn’t they learn anything from Apple’s problems?
  • Volume is only controlled by navigating through screens. The C-330 had an external volume control which was very nice.
  • No AC power adapter. It can charge while plugged into the USB but very slowly since you cannot turn off the screen. (the C-330 was just fine here)

The 765T is a great unit and the best for the price as far as I am concerned. The 755T leaves off the Bluetooth and is less expensive but is harder to find. The latest series are the 1300’s and a little thinner but other advances are not so obvious. You will always be happy with a Garmin. They will soon drop the annoying ads that popup after enough customers have complained or choose the competition instead. Get this one and you have one of the best GPS units money can buy. Happy navigating!

Link to Garmin site with details on this unit.
https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=134&pID=14926

Amazon.com has nice comparison chart as well at their site:
http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-765T-Widescreen-Bluetooth-Navigator/dp/B001ELJER4

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