Some Notes on the Garmin 760

As I mentioned a few days back, my current GPS is now a Garmin Nuvi 760. Here are a few bullet points on my experiences with it.

  • It's bright. No problem reading the screen in full daylight - this was my complaint with the TomTom.
  • The mount is solid. More solid than the Mio mount. It doesn't move at all when I'm typing on it, and getting it on and off the mount is easy.
  • Finding points of interest is slow. If there are a lot matches, it's not so bad, but if you're looking for something that's not close to you and there aren't a lot of matches, it can take 30 seconds or more.
  • When you miss a turn, it takes too long to recalculate. This can lead to a really frustrating situation where you miss a turn, it recalculates and then says "turn left" just as it's too late for you to make that turn. Recalculate, rinse, repeat.
  • Screen updates are slow, too. It can drop to close to 1 frame per second in some areas. When you're glancing at the GPS to see if you should take this exit or the next one, this is a noticeable delay.
  • I'm using the 2009 maps, but my street, where I've been living for 3 years now, isn't included.
  • Just in the last few weeks I've already had 3 instances where the GPS tried to send me the wrong way down a 1 way street or down a street that was blocked (and had been blocked for years).
  • I'm using a 3 month trial of the TMC FM traffic data, and in Ottawa, it sucks. It seems like all they cover is some stretches of the Queensway (our main East-West highway), and I'm guessing they just have someone somewhere updating that data based on the traffic webcams the province has set up. But roads closed due to construction, the most useful use of traffic data in my opinion, aren't marked. At least none of the ones I've encountered. Subscribing to TMC in Ottawa would be a waste of money.
  • The POI database has huge, unexpected holes. For example, it thinks the closest Costco to my house is over 162km away (when in fact there are at least 3 or 4 in the Ottawa area). It knows about tons of little businesses, but a few big ones I've searched for are missing. Another example: I'm in Mont Tremblant right now, and searching for the nearest Tim Hortons shows the closest one is 42km away, but I've seen 2 of them just in the local area.

The low quality maps and POI database is a real disappointment, as this is something I depend on. So far it seems the Mio's TeleAtlas maps had better POI data and roughly equal map data to the Nuvi.

The TomTom had a great framerate and POI database, and had a unique "tiny updates" mechanism that let users input data (right into the GPS) to say things like "this street is blocked", so they could aggregate and publish that data on the fly. This mechanism showed a lot of promise, but the real future is what Dash is doing. Dash GPS units communicate with each other (through a server), so traffic problems can be detected and routed around automatically. Not yet available in Canada. :(