Garmin adds another battery of incremental changes to its Nuvi line of GPS navigators with the introduction of the Nuvi 765T. This new Nuvi packs useful features, such as text-to-speech and visual lane guidance, but the best trick in its bag is free, lifetime, Navteq traffic updating. In this case "free" means "ad-supported" and you will have to view periodic text-based ads and offers on your Nuvi 765T when traffic reporting is active. But, how intrusive are these ads and is it really worth it for traffic? Let's find out.
The Garmin Nuvi 765T uses the familiar chassis (4.8 inches wide by 3 inches tall by .8 inch thick) used on previous wide-screen Nuvis, but with a new, rubberized, matte finish for the front and back panels. The side panels are finished in a glossy piano black.
The color touch screen measures 4.3 inches (diagonal) with a resolution of 480x272 pixels (WQVGA). An antiglare coating keeps the screen viewable when sunlit and prevents excessive fingerprinting.
Along the top edge of the unit is the power/screen lock slider. The right edge is home to a 1/8-inch headphone jack and an SD-card slot; and the bottom is where you'll find the microUSB port and Garmin's proprietary dock connector. Flanking the touch screen are two tiny microphone holes (for hands-free calling) and the back panel features the monaural speaker and a connector for an external GPS antenna.
The Nuvi 765T ships with a suction cup-mounted car cradle, an adhesive disc for dash mounting, a 12-volt power cable, a microUSB-to-USB sync cable, and a Quickstart Guide.
Because the 765T's traffic antenna includes an integrated FM antenna for receiving traffic data, it does not terminate in a microUSB connector (like Nuvis we've previously tested). Instead, a proprietary connection is used that plugs into the car cradle, onto which the Nuvi is mounted. The Garmin is unable to receive traffic reports without the power cable, and it can't connect to the cable without the dock, so try very hard to not lose them.
The Nuvi 765T's turn-by-turn navigation is supplemented by text-to-speech directions and advanced lane guidance. As you approach a highway junction, lane guidance displays a series of arrows that represent the lanes available. Valid lanes for your route are illuminated and invalid lanes are grayed out. Get closer to the junction and the navigation map is replaced, momentarily, with a graphic representation of the intersection (complete with highway signs) with a large, purple arrow pointing you in the proper direction.
Navteq Traffic data is served via FM radio waves, received by the antenna in the power cable. The Nuvi displays clickable traffic incidents on the map and overlays color-coded flow data onto the street graphics. The unit will attempt to avoid traffic incidents when routing, but if it can't it will display the expected delay time in an icon on the map screen.
EcoRoute is a routing algorithm and software package that takes fuel economy into consideration when planning routes. An ecoRoute icon on the menu allows drivers to create a vehicle profile and track fuel economy and carbon footprint. Driving challenges help to train drivers to drive more frugally.
Bluetooth wireless connectivity for hands-free calling and audio streaming (output) allow the Nuvi to play well with other Bluetooth devices. A built-in FM transmitter allows you to use your vehicle's speakers for audio playback and turn-by-turn directions.
Multimedia features include a photo viewer and a media player that enables the playback of MP3s and Audible.com audiobooks from an SD card.
Oddest of all is the inclusion of the Oxford University Press Language Guide, which translates words and phrases into dozens of languages and reads them aloud using the text-to-speech engine.
Watch this video to learn how to pair your Nuvi with a Bluetooth car stereo.
Just as the Nuvi 765T's exterior is familiar to previous Garmin models, so is its menu system and interface. The main menu screen features two large icons for "Where to?" and "View Map," along with a smaller band of icons along the bottom of the screen. Pressing the Where to? icon, brings up a menu with a number of ways to chose your destination--for example POI search, address entry, favorites, or intersection.
The main screen's secondary icons vary depending on what features are used, but always include icons for Volume and Tools. When connected to a Bluetooth phone, a phone icon is added, and listening to music adds a media player button. When the unit is routing, a detour button and a stop route button also appear. We like the way Garmin has kept the interface accessible, yet uncluttered, in this way.
The map screen is equally uncluttered and features static readouts of driving direction and speed, as well as a "Return to Menu" button. Depending on what functions are active, icons for traffic, phone, media player, or speed limit may or may not be displayed.
Periodically, when the Nuvi detects that the vehicle is stationary, text ads may appear at the top of the map, or in the margin of the menus. These ads can be clicked to access special offers found under the Offers icon of the Tools menu.
New for the 7x5 series, to which the 765T belongs, are menu animations. When navigating through the menus, the next screen will slide in from the side. Unfortunately, this sliding business can be laggy at times and cannot be disabled.
From the time the power switch is flipped to the appearance of the menu screen takes about 20 seconds. A cold start will net an additional minute or so while the Garmin achieves satellite lock. The Nuvi remembers its location between restarts, so subsequent booting should be instantaneous--unless the unit has moved a great distance since it was powered off.
The Nuvi's touch screen is quite responsive and we were able to quickly input addresses using its virtual QWERTY keyboard, thanks to the Nuvi's speedy autocomplete function.
Loaded with a destination, the Nuvi is also quick to calculate routes. Calculation times vary depending upon the length and complexity of the trip, but most around-town routes were calculated within 10 seconds. Recalculations are handled with equal expediency and are notable because they're actual recalculations from your current position, not just lame attempts to get you back onto the prescribed route.
We found the icon-based traffic incident reports to be fairly accurate (having actively sought out a few incidents and construction zones), but flow data wasn't exactly up-to-the-minute at times.
The Garmin Nuvi 765T earns high design marks for its simple shape and uncluttered interface. Garmin's menu structure is much easier to understand and navigate than TomTom's, so we're glad to see that it hasn't changed much.
The Nuvi's feature score also benefits from the addition of EcoRoutes routing and fuel economy calculations, FM traffic reception, and driver aids such as lane guidance and text-to-speech. Performance hasn't improved much over the last Nuvi unit tested, but that's fine because we've always been satisfied with Garmin's satellite acquisition and route calculation times.
Most importantly, the Nuvi 765T's text- based ads were unobtrusive and don't appear on the map screen when the vehicle is in motion, so they don't really seem to pose a safety issue. We'd be willing to deal with viewing a few ads to keep the very useful traffic updates free.