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January 22, 2009

Garmin nuvi 885T Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4 of 5
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Verdict: Great if Speech Recognition Is Your #1 Priority. Otherwise, Get A nuvi 7x5 Model Instead (And Save Money Too)

Garmin nuvi 885T Review

Garmin nuvi 885T Main Menu Traffic Avoidance 3-D Lane Guidance


  • Garmin's nuvi 885T replaces the older nuvi 880
  • 885T is the best voice activated GPS Available
  • Lacks some key features found on the less expensive nuvi 7x5's

First, a little history: Garmin has been steadily updating its popular nuvi product, rolling out new units complete with updated map screens, lane guidance, improved GPS chipsets, free traffic, and more. First to receive the update was the entry-level nuvi 200 line, which has now been replaced by the nuvi 2x5 models. For example, the nuvi 200 has been replaced by the nuvi 205, and the 260 has been replaced by the 265, and so on.

Next to get the updated features was the nuvi 700 series. The nuvi 750 is replaced by the nuvi 755T, and the nuvi 760 by the 765T, and the 780 by the 785T.

Now Garmin is completing the update to its nuvi catalog, replacing the high-end nuvi 800 series with the new nuvi 8x5 series. The nuvi 885T replaces the nuvi 880.

Table of Contents

  1. Specifications
  2. What's in the Box (Unboxing)
  3. Mounting the nuvi 885T in the Car
  4. Navigating With The nuvi 885T
  5. Excluding A Specific Road From the Planned Route
  6. Entering an Address
  7. Finding a Restaurant (Searching for POIs)
  8. Setting the Home Address
  9. Favorites
  10. MSN Direct
  11. Traffic
  12. Using Voice Recognition
  13. Creating and Using Routes
  14. Navigating to a Set of Coordinates
  15. Using the nuvi 885T in Pedestrian Mode
  16. Canceling A Route
  17. Saving Your Current Location
  18. GPS Sensitivity
  19. Routing Engine Performance
  20. Bluetooth and Hands Free Calling
  21. Using the FM Transmitter
  22. Media Player
  23. Garmin's New "Where Did I Park the Car?" Feature
  24. Games
  25. Pros
  26. Cons
  27. Conclusion

1. Specifications

The most noticeable physical difference between the nuvi 885T and other Garmin nuvis are the two front-facing speakers, located on either side of the LCD display.

Also new to the nuvi 885T is the move from a non-serviceable internal battery to a user-removable, lithium-ion battery.

Physical & Performance:
Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 4.9"W x 3.1"H x .7"D (12.5 x 7.8 x 1.8 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 (176 g)
Battery: removable, rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 4 hours
Waterproof: no
High-sensitivity receiver: yes
RoHS version available: yes
Maps & Memory:
Basemap: yes
Preloaded maps: yes
Ability to add maps: yes
Built-in memory: internal solid state
Accepts data cards: microSD card (not included)
Waypoints/favorites/locations: 500
Routes: 10
Voice prompts (e.g. "Turn right in 500 ft."): yes (internal dual speakers)
Speaks street names (e.g. "Turn right ON ELM STREET in 500 ft.") : yes
Speech recognition (navigate with voice commands): yes
3D map view: yes
Lane assist (guides you to the proper lane for navigation): yes
3-D building view (displays buildings in 3-D): no
Auto sort multiple destinations (provides most direct route): yes
Auto re-route (fast off-route and detour recalculation): yes
Choice of route setup (faster time, shorter distance, off road): yes
Route avoidance (avoid highways, tolls etc.): yes
Bluetooth® wireless technology (connect to your phone for hands-free calling): yes
MSN® Direct compatible: yes (receiver included)
FM traffic compatible: yes
XM® Navtraffic (includes basic weather) & Radio for U.S. compatible: no
Speed limit indicator (displays speed limit for most major roads): yes
Where Am I? feature (find closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection): yes
Garmin Locate (marks position when removed from windshield mount): yes
Qwerty or ABC keyboard (choose keyboard layout): yes
Multimode (switches modes to drive, hike, bike or boat): no
Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest): yes
Garmin Garage™ vehicles compatible (download car-shaped icons to your device): yes
Garmin Garage™ voices compatible (download custom voices to your device): yes
Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos): yes
World travel clock, currency & unit converter, calculator: yes
Picture viewer: yes
MP3 Player yes
Audio book player yes
FM transmitter: yes
Headphone jack/audio line-out: yes
Dead reckoning: no
Garmin Lock™ (anti-theft feature): yes
Motorcycle-friendly: no
Geocaching-friendly no

2. What's in the Box (Unboxing)

Nuvi 885T & All Included Accessories
Figure 1: What's in the Box

  • Garmin nuvi 885
  • Preloaded City Navigator® NT for North America
  • MSN Direct receiver with integrated vehicle power cable (3 months free MSN Direct service)
  • Speech recognition remote
  • Vehicle suction cup mount
  • Dashboard disc
  • USB cable
  • Quick start manual

Garmin nuvi 885T, Front
Figure 2: Garmin nuvi 885T, Front

The nuvi 885T has a bronze/gray border around the display, and an all-black plastic case. Except for the power switch on the top of the case, there are no visible controls on the nuvi 885T. All operations are performed either via the 4.3" color touch screen, or by voice commands.

Two front-firing speakers are located on the left and right of the LCD display.

The nuvi 885T feels solid and well built.

Garmin nuvi 885T, Rear
Figure 3: Garmin nuvi 885T, Rear

The nuvi 885T has a user-replaceable, lithium-ion battery. The battery compartment door slides open, and the battery can be removed/replaced.

Garmin nuvi 885T, Top
Figure 4: Garmin nuvi 885T, Top

The power key is located on the top of the nuvi 885T. Sliding the power switch to the left turns the unit on or off. Sliding the switch to the right locks the screen (so that no keys can be accidentally pressed).

Garmin nuvi 885T, Left Side
Figure 5: Garmin nuvi 885T, Left Side

The left side of the nuvi 885T is home to a headphone/audio out jack, micro SD card slot, and USB port for connecting the 885T to a PC/Mac. The USB port can also be used to charge the nuvi's battery outside the vehicle.

Note that all the maps and POI (Points of Interest) information is stored internally on the nuvi 885T, so you'll only need a Micro SD card if you intent to load additional maps, or make use of the multi-media capabilities, such as the mp3 player or audio book player.

Garmin nuvi 885T, Right Side
Figure 6: Garmin nuvi 885T, Right Side

Garmin nuvi 885T, Bottom
Figure 7: Garmin nuvi 885T, Bottom

An external antenna connector is located on the bottom of the nuvi 880, as is the 34-pin docking connector. The external antenna connector is protected by a rubber cap, which I have removed here in the photo for illustrative purposes.

Removing the Battery Cover
Figure 8: Removing the Battery Cover

Many customers will rejoice at Garmin's decision to switch from an internal battery to a user-replaceable, lithium-ion battery on the nuvi 885T. In the event you continue to use the nuvi 885T beyond the life of the rechargeable battery, a battery replacement can be purchased for around $25.

Insert the Battery into the nuvi 885T
Figure 9: Insert the Battery into the nuvi 885T

The lithium-ion battery only fits into the nuvi 885T the correct way, thanks to plastic guides on the battery that prevent you from accidentally inserting the battery the wrong way around.

Once the battery is installed, slide the battery cover back on until it snaps into place.