I've got a Crush on my Garmin Nuvi 750
Incredibly easy to use, friendly navigation, intuitive interface, great features, fair price.
Doesn't know your hometown as well as you do...but you don't need it there!
The Bottom Line:
The Garmin Nuvi 750 can add joy to the journey...at a great price.
One of the most unexpected Christmas gifts we got this year has also turned out to be the most fun--the Garmin Nuvi 750. A GPS and "Personal Travel Assistant," the 3 x 5 inch device combines the features of a GPS navigation system with an MP3 Player, picture viewer, and back-talking front-seat driver. When we opened the package, my first thought was "huh...didn't expect that." We do a lot of driving, especially during the summers that I have off of school, but most of it is in places we think we know, or back and forth to our family cabin in Southern Utah. Not places we'd get lost and "need" a personal travel assistant. But it was given with the hope that we would have fun and have a non-essential...really, a toy that's more appropriate for adults than the actual plastic toys that I usually pick up on my own. (Thanks, Epinions!)
Now that we've owned the Garmin Nuvi 750 for six months, I feel like I can finally review it--there are so many features that it's difficult for a non-techie like me to approach such a fun gadget. Please keep in mind that I'm a technology novice, and I'm much more comfortable writing about books and movies than I am technology. With that caveat, this was our experience. Up until we received the Nuvi, we would use online maps, either from Mapquest.com or Google Maps to try and plot routes to places we hadn't been before. Now I'll still look at those sites to get a basic idea of my destination, but the Nuvi has replaced the pages of printouts with a neat, palm-sized device.
The touch screen of the Nuvi is large (nearly 4" by 2.5") and is brighter than other similar devices I've used in the past. Bright enough and with good enough resolution to be used in the daytime, it's perfect for driving during the day or night. Unlike other GPS devices I've used, it's able to receive a signal from anywhere in the car, or even indoors. This feature is a no-brainer, but one of the things I was worried about using the Nuvi. I don't have many touch screen devices, but this is easy to use, with large enough buttons for my clumsy fingers and simple navigation choices.
The unit is easy to use out of the box--it comes with the Nuvi, a power cord for the car, a USB cable, and two different mounting options: one using a suction cup that mounts on the windshield, the other that mounts permanently on the dashboard. We actually purchased an optional accessory--a sort of gripping beanbag that sits on the dash and holds the Nuvi upright. We use two different cars around town, and frequently rent cars for longer road trips, and this portable mount seemed like the best option. For fifteen dollars, it's been well worth it. To start things off you simply turn on the sliding power switch, and wait for the Nuvi to connect to satellites. That will take anywhere from one to five minutes, depending on if you're stationary or moving, indoors or outdoors, etc. For the quickest connect, make sure you're outside and not moving--it'll boot up within about sixty seconds.
Once you're "online" with the Nuvi, you have two basic options: either putting in an address and receiving directions on how to get there, or a map view showing your location and surrounding streets. I've used both, but the "Where To?" feature is the one we've used most. You can either enter a street address, browse a directory for businesses, put in a city name, or if you have them, GPS latitude and longitude coordinates. One of my first experiences using the Nuvi was trying to find something (okay, an action figure...) at a Rite-Aid in the Salt Lake City area. Well, I hadn't even BEEN to a Rite-Aid in Utah, and didn't realize we had them here. To my surprise there were eight, and I didn't know where any of them were. I punched "Rite-Aid" into the Nuvi, it displayed the eight locations, and I drove to five of them on my (ultimately fruitless) quest. I purposely chose stores I didn't think I could find without directions, and the Nuvi got me to them quickly, safely, and efficiently. When using either the "Where To?" or the Map View functions, you can zoom in and out on the screen, to give you a better idea of where you're heading. This comes in handy when you have a passenger who wants to navigate ahead of time, and should only be done by a non-driver or while the vehicle is stopped.
The directions are displayed on the screen, but also spoken by a soothing/annoying/sexy/robot female voice. Yes, I pretend I'm piloting the USS Enterprise as I drive, but I did that before we owned the Nuvi. The directions are given well ahead of any turns you need to make, so you won't miss your turn, and you're able to get into the proper lanes as you go. If you miss a turn, or take an alternate route because you know the area better than Nuvi does (more on that later) she kind of groans "Recalculating..." and then gives you new directions. And yes, she does groan. If you're not going to listen to her directions the first time, she'll give you all the sass any navigator would. This recalculation is quick and easy, and will keep you on course to your destination.
There are many extra features that are available as you're driving--you can preset your "Home" and add other favorite locations. From anywhere on the road, you can find gas stations, restaurants, lodging, movie theatres, emergency services, and other necessities. And yes, sometimes movie theatres are necessities. While you drive, it will display your current speed, how long you've been traveling, and give you an estimated arrival time. This last feature is one that we've had some problems with--if you get stuck in traffic, for example, instead of updating your arrival time it will freeze at "arriving in ten minutes," when you've got a good thirty minutes of traffic jam to get through. It's almost like the Nuvi is taunting you, twisting the knife while your scheduled arrival time passes you by.
Besides the car mode, which is the standard on start-up, there's also a bike mode and a pedestrian mode. I'll be traveling to several cities I've never been to this summer, and will be on foot for much of those visits. I'm planning on bringing the Nuvi along to help me get around. I'll probably have to update this review at that point, because so far I've only used the car mode.
We've loved the Garmin Nuvi 750, but it's not perfect. When it comes down to it, it's working off of maps and GPS that might not have been updated in a while. We've only had one address not come up at all--a friend's house about forty miles away we had only been to once. We had the address with us, but decided not to rely on Mapquest, we'd just use the Nuvi. His address wasn't coming up, his subdivision wasn't coming up, even though it was built five years ago. We couldn't find it on the "Where To?" screen, and it didn't display on the "View Map" screen, even sitting in front of his house. So as much as I'd like to say you can throw all your old ways of using maps out the window...you should probably bring some kind of backup if you're going where you've Never Gone Before.
The other thing to remember is your common sense. You know the routes around your hometown better than Nuvi does, and if you know for a fact that Street A always has horrible traffic at this time of day, but Street B is relatively clear, you should use Street B. Sure, Street A might be more direct, so Nuvi will recommend that one. She'll give you a little bit of sass with her "Recalculating" groan, but ultimately you're the driver. Make sure you get there safely.
This is a great "toy" that's come down in price quite a bit, even in the last six months. What used to retail for around $500 is now in the $150-200 range, and that's a great bargain. We don't travel a whole lot, but we do enjoy traveling. The Nuvi has taken some of the stress away, and added some peace of mind and fun to our driving. There are other features we haven't used yet--a built-in MP3 Player, currency converters, photo viewers and others. They're all pretty unnecessary for our daily travels, but can add some joy to your journey. If you're looking for a great gift for Father's Day, Graduation, or any other occasion, the Garmin Nuvi 750 is a wonderful pick.