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October 31, 2007

Garmin nuvi 760 Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4.7 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

Verdict: The Best nuvi Yet

Garmin nuvi 760

Already a Garmin nuvi fan, it was with great anticipation that I put Garmin's new high-end nuvi 760 through its paces. Does the nuvi 760 come out on top, improving on the already successful nuvi 660/680? Is it worth upgrading? What's changed? Read on.

TOC (Table of Contents)

  1. Specifications
  2. Garmin's new nuvi 700-series
  3. What's in the Box (Unboxing)
  4. Mounting the nuvi 760 in the Car
  5. The Map Page
  6. Finding An Address
  7. Automatic Map Scaling
  8. Finding A Restaurant
  9. Telling nuvi Where to Search
  10. Setting the HOME Address
  11. Favorites (Address Book)
  12. Creating and Using Routes
  13. Using Coordinates Instead of Street Addresses
  14. Walking to a Destination
  15. Adding a Stop, or Via, to the Current Trip
  16. Canceling the Route
  17. Saving Your Current Location
  18. Garmin's Updated Maps
  19. Custom Vehicle Icons
  20. Routing Engine Performance
  21. Bluetooth and Hands-Free Calling
  22. Playing Audio Through the Vehicle's Speakers (FM Transmitter)
  23. Using the Media Player
  24. Where Did I Park?
  25. Where Am I?
  26. Traffic
  27. Currency Converter
  28. Unit Converter
  29. Language Guide
  30. Picture Viewer
  31. World Clock
  32. Calculator
  33. Text-to-Speech Voice Quality
  34. Garmin Lock
  35. Signal Reception Performance
  36. Configuring System Settings
  37. Screen Brightness
  38. Keeping the nuvi Up-To-Date
  39. Pros
  40. Cons
  41. Conclusion

1. Specifications

  • Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 4.8"W x 3.0"H x .8"D (12.2 x 7.6 x 2.0 cm)
  • Display size, WxH: 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm)
  • Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
  • Display type: WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
  • Weight: 6.2 ounces (190 g)
  • Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Battery life: up to 5 hours
  • Receiver: SiRF Star III
  • Speaks street names (e.g. "Turn right ON ELM STREET in 500 ft.")
  • 3D map view
  • Auto sort multiple destinations (provides most direct route)
  • Auto re-route (fast off-route and detour recalculation)
  • Choice of route setup (faster time, shorter distance, off road)
  • Route avoidance (avoid highways, tolls etc.)
  • Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest)
  • Bluetooth for hands-free calling
  • FM Traffic
  • MSN Direct Compatible (requires purchase optional MSN receiver)
  • MP3 player
  • Audio book player
  • Picture viewer
  • Configurable vehicle icons (select car-shaped icons for map navigation)
  • World travel clock, currency & measurement converter, calculator
  • Touchscreen
  • FM transmitter
  • Headphone jack/audio line-out
  • Garmin Lock™ (anti-theft feature)

2. Garmin's new nuvi 700-series

The 700-series nuvis are the most expensive nuvis available, and are the most feature packed models Garmin has released to date. The nuvi 750, 760, and 770 all share the same bright 4.3-inch display, and all three models have a built-in FM transmitter for broadcasting audio through you car's stereo system. The 750 lacks traffic and Bluetooth, the 760 adds Bluetooth, and the 770 has North American AND European maps:

Garmin nuvi Feature Matrix

nuvi 770 nuvi 760 nuvi 750

Map Coverage

North America & EU North America North America

Bluetooth

Yes Yes No

FM Transmitter

Yes Yes Yes

Live Traffic

Yes Yes Optional

MSRP $

$1071

$857

$642

Street Price $

$999

$799

$599

3. What's in the Box (Unboxing)

Garmin nuvi 760, Front
Figure 1: Garmin nuvi 760, Front

The nuvi 760 ships with the following items included in the box:

  • nuvi 760
  • FM traffic receiver with vehicle power cable (GTM 20, FM TMC traffic receiver in North America)
  • Vehicle suction cup mount
  • USB cable
  • Dashboard disc
  • Quick start manual

Interestingly, the nuvi 760 does not include an AC adapter for charging the unit outside the car. Garmin's previous high-end units, the nuvi 600-series, included an AC adapter.

Except for the power switch on the top of the case, there are no visible controls on the nuvi 760. All operations are performed via the 4.3" color touch screen. If you look closely, you can also notice a small microphone hole along the left side of the frame. The microphone is used when pairing the nuvi 760 with a Bluetooth compatible cell phone for hands-free calling.

The nuvi 760 and 770 have a black frame, while the less expensive nuvi 750 is cast in metallic gray. Garmin's 700-series nuvis share an almost identical physical design to the recently-announced nuvi 200-series (nuvi 250, 250W). Unlike the entry level 200-series, however, the 760 is equipped with a much brighter LCD display, text-to-speech, Bluetooth, FM transmitter, and traffic. More on that later in the review.

Compared with previous Garmin nuvis, the 760 feels quite solid in the hand, and the high quality construction is obvious.

Garmin nuvi 760, Top
Figure 2: Garmin nuvi 760, Top

The nuvi 760 has an elegant 2-tone case design, with a silver band in the center and gun-metal black on the rear and front. Note that only the 760 and 770 models sport the two-tone look; the nuvi 750 is cast in solid silver color instead of black and silver.

The power key is located on the top of the nuvi 760. Sliding the power switch to the left turns the unit on or off, while sliding the switch to the right locks the screen (so that no keys can be accidentally pressed).

Garmin nuvi 760, Left Side
Figure 3: Garmin nuvi 760, Left Side

An SD memory card slot is located on the left side of the nuvi 760 (used for storing photos or additional maps), as is the headphone/audio out jack.

Garmin nuvi 760, Rear
Figure 4: Garmin nuvi 760, Rear

The speaker and external antenna connector are located on the rear of the 760. Most people won't need or use the external antenna connector, especially given the nuvi 760's use of SiRF's high performance indoor antenna, StarIII. Still, if you need to mount the GPS away from the dashboard or in an otherwise GPS-unfriendly location, you may want to use an external antenna.

Note that the nuvi 760, like the 200-series models, has an internal GPS antenna instead of the fold-out style patch antenna used on the older 300 and 600-series nuvis. The built-in antenna means there's fewer moving parts to break, and also makes it easier/faster to dock and undock the nuvi 760 from the windshield mount.

In my testing, GPS signal performance was identical between the fold-out patch and integrated antenna used on the 760.

Garmin nuvi 760, Bottom
Figure 5: Garmin nuvi 760, Bottom

The bottom of the 760 is home to the mini-USB connector (used both for data transfer between a PC/Mac and the GPS as well as charging the battery), and the mult-pin connector used when mounting the GPS in the car with the included quick-release cradle.

Garmin nuvi 760, Right Side
Figure 6: Garmin nuvi 760, Right Side

The nuvi 760 benefits from its clean, elegant design.

Garmin nuvi 760 Windshield Suction-cup Mount
Figure 7: Garmin nuvi 760 Windshield Suction-cup Mount

Garmin consistently does a better job with its mounting hardware than its competitors, and the nuvi 760 is no exception.

The nuvi 760 is mounted in the windshield using a suction-cup mount and quick-release cradle (shown below) that snaps onto the end of the mount, forming a joint that can be rotated into the desired viewing angle.

This ball-and-socket style mount has proven very effective for Garmin, and is used on all new nuvi and StreetPilot GPS units. Garmin's well designed mount is easy to use and holds the unit firmly and (vibration free) in place while driving.

The suction mount is locked into place by lowering the lever on the mount.

nuvi 760's Cradle, Front
Figure 8: nuvi 760's Cradle, Front

Among other benefits, the cradle provides for quick docking/undocking of the nuvi from the windshield mount. Note that the 12v power cable connects to the cradle, and not the nuvi directly, so there's no need to fumble with the cabled when mounting or unmounting the GPS.

nuvi 760's Cradle, Left
Figure 9: nuvi 760's Cradle, Left

The left side of the cradle has a microphone input jack. In my testing I found hands-free telephone calls were improved by the use of an external microphone. In particular, some callers reported hearing their own voice echo when I was using hands-free calling and broadcasting the audio through the car's stereo via the FM transmitter (the echo seemed to go away when not using the FM transmitter). Garmin sells an external microphone for around $15. more on this later in the review.

nuvi 760's Cradle, Rear
Figure 10: nuvi 760's Cradle, Rear

The mount has a socket at the rear that snaps onto the ball of the suction mount. Note the button at the bottom of the mount - squeezing the button releases the nuvi 760 from the cradle.

nuvi 760's Cradle, Right
Figure 11: nuvi 760's Cradle, Right

The cigarette lighter power adapter connects to the right side of the cradle rather than the unit itself. So once the mount is in place, you don't have to worry about the power cable; just connect the nuvi to the mount and you're ready to go.

This is a slight design change from previous nuvis, which had the power connector located at the bottom of the cradle instead of the side. I found the new location of the power connector an improvement over previous version, as the power connector is now easier to see and easier to connect. Also, the previous design was cumbersome for those using a friction mount, as there was barely enough clearance between the cradle and the dashboard.

nuvi 760's Windshield Mount and Cradle, Assembled
Figure 12: nuvi 760's Windshield Mount and Cradle, Assembled

The beauty of Garmin's windshield mounting hardware is its simplicity. With almost no moving parts to break, this mount is economical, simple, small, and highly effective.

Connecting the cradle to the mount is simply a matter of pressing firmly on the mount until the ball snaps into the socket on the cradle. To remove the cradle, simply twist the cradle to the right or left until it snaps off the mount.

nuvi 760 Attached to the Windshield Mount
Figure 13: nuvi 760 Attached to the Windshield Mount

Throughout my testing I found Garmin's mounting hardware outstanding; the windshield mount held the nuvi firmly in place without any visible vibration while driving. The ball-and-socket style connector holds the unit just firmly enough to hold it in place, while still making it easy to adjust the nuvi's position if needed. Another advantage of this type of mount is that there are no screws to tighten/loosen when you want to adjust the position, making one-handed adjustments easy.

Good mounting hardware seems to elude most GPS manufacturers, so Garmin deserves high praise for consistently making excellent windshield mounting hardware.

GTM 20, FM TMC traffic receiver
Figure 14: 12/24-Volt adapter with integrated traffic receiver

This is the included GTM 20, FM TMC traffic receiver - the U.S. version of the cigarette lighter power adapter with integrated FM traffic receiver.

The European version of the nuvi 760 ships with a separate power adapter and European traffic antenna.