Editors' note: The following review is of the Garmin Nuvi 750. The Nuvi 760 is identical to the 750 in nearly every way, except that the 760 adds Bluetooth hands-free calling and an FM Traffic data receiver to its feature set. As a result, the 760 gets extra points in the features rating category and an adjusted final score.
The Garmin Nuvi series has earned a reputation as a solid line of portable navigation systems, offering accurate routing, good design, and ease of use. We've seen it in the entry-level Garmin Nuvi 200 and the more advanced Garmin Nuvi 660. So we expected much of the same from the Garmin Nuvi 750, and for the most part, it delivered, but it also disappointed us in some ways. The simple design and interface are still there, and we were happy with the text-to-speech directions and accuracy of the routes. We also really like the added "Where Am I?" location feature, which helps you pinpoint your position and nearby services in case of emergencies. That said, we weren't expecting the sluggish route recalculations and upcoming turn alerts. It didn't happen on every instance, but enough to make us take notice. And at a pricey $535.70, we expect a bit more. As such, we think we'll stick with the Garmin Nuvi 660 for now.
The Garmin Nuvi 700 series also includes the Nuvi 760 ($749.99) with integrated Bluetooth, the Nuvi 770 ($964.27) with added European maps, and the Nuvi 780 ($857.13) with MSN Direct services.
The Garmin Nuvi 750 has the signature look of the Nuvi line of portable navigation systems. The silver, rectangular device is slim and lightweight at 4.8 inches wide by 3 inches high by 0.8 inch deep and 6.2 ounces. It's just slightly bigger than a deck of cards, so it's easy to travel with and transport between vehicles.
Like the newer models, the Nuvi 750 features a wide 4.3-inch (diagonal) touch screen with a 480x272-pixel resolution and white backlight. Maps, text, and images looked sharp on the display, and we were able to see the screen in various lighting conditions. The touch screen itself is responsive, and the menu icons are big enough that most people should be able to use them without mistakes. Some may find the onscreen keyboard to be slightly cramped, but we like that you can choose between a QWERTY and ABC format. The overall interface and menu system are simple enough that you should be able to use the Nuvi 750 right out of the box, though you may want to check out the owner's manual for more specific settings.
While you handle most of the device's operations via the touch screen, there are a few other controls and design elements on the Nuvi 750. The left side holds a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and an SD expansion slot for loading additional maps or media files. There's a power/lock switch on top and a Mini-USB port on the bottom. Finally, the speaker and external antenna jack are located on the back.
The Garmin Nuvi 750 comes packaged with a car charger, a USB cable, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), and reference material. The car mount is simple and easy to install, and the cradle securely held the unit in place during our road tests.
The Garmin Nuvi 750 comes preloaded with City Navigator NT maps of North America and about 6 million points of interest (POI). Trip preparation can begin in a number of ways. You can enter a specific address, choose a POI, or select a location from the Recently Found or Favorites list. We're also happy to see that the Nuvi 750 now supports multi-destination routes, which was lacking in the Nuvi 660. Once you have your destination set, the system can generate directions by fastest time, shortest distance, or off road, and you can instruct it to avoid certain road types, such as toll roads and highways. There is also a detour function if you want to avoid a certain part of the given route and if you happen to get off track, don't panic, as the Nuvi 750 does automatic route recalculation. Finally, there are bicycle and pedestrian modes, so you're not restricted to using the device just in the car.
The POI database contains all the major categories (gas stations, lodging, ATMs, restaurants by cuisine type, and so forth) and more specific ones, including golf courses, gyms, and night clubs. On top of the preloaded entries, you can add custom POIs, such as safety cameras and school zones. We did a scan of the business listings around the city and found the database to be mostly accurate, though it missed some recently opened establishments.
If you don't need guidance, you can just have the Nuvi track your movements by tapping View Map. The Nuvi 750 also has the recently added "Where am I?" feature, which gives you the coordinates of your location, the nearest address and intersection. It will also list the closest hospitals, police stations, and gas stations to your position, giving you a bit of peace of mind if you're in unfamiliar territory and need access to any of these services, or if you need to give your location to a tow truck. There's also a feature that will record your last location when you remove the Nuvi 750 from the in-car mount--think of it as a marker. It's useful for situations such as remembering where you parked. When you are ready to return to the spot, just go to Where To? > Recently Found > Last Position.
Maps are available in 2D and 3D view, with day and night colors, and you can change it so north is always at the top of your screen or the direction in which you are driving is. A plus and minus icon on the map screen allows you to zoom in and out, and there's also a trip information page that displays your speed, direction, trip time, and so forth. In addition to the visual aids, you, of course, get voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions with text-to-speech functionality. The Nuvi 750 also has a built-in FM transmitter so you can pipe the audio through your car's stereo for better volume.
Beyond navigation, the Garmin Nuvi 750 includes a Travel Kit like the other Nuvi models have that consists of an MP3 player, an Audible book player, a JPEG picture viewer with a slideshow function, a world clock, currency and measurement converters, and a calculator. You can expand the device's capabilities with one of Garmin's three optional software packages (available on SD cards): Language Guide ($74.99), Travel Guide (price varies depending on what region you want), and SaversGuide ($49.99). The former includes a multilingual word and phrase bank with support for nine languages and dialects and five bilingual dictionaries.
We tested the Garmin Nuvi 750 in San Francisco and from a cold start, it took the unit about 3 minutes to get a fix on our location under clear skies, while subsequent starts were much faster. The receiver was strong as it held onto the GPS fix even as we drove through the skyscraper-lined streets of the Financial District. We did notice, however, that the Nuvi 750 was occasionally off a block or so with our position.
We also entered our standard test trip from the Marina District of San Francisco to CNET's downtown headquarters. The Nuvi 750 came back with a calculated route within a few seconds and a quick scan of the directions showed that they were accurate. We were pleased with the voice directions, as they were loud and clear, and the text-to-speech functionality was impressive, as it pronounced street names with good accuracy. However, there were a couple of instances when the system was late in telling us when to turn. Fortunately, there's automatic route recalculation, and though the Nuvi 750 always got us back on track, we also experienced some sluggishness here, too. This was all a bit disappointing and unexpected, as we've generally gotten good performance from previous Garmin GPS devices.