Perhaps befitting a sat-nav company as successful as Garmin – it’s the market leader in the US, and only prevented from being so in Europe by the pervasive efforts of Dutch company TomTom – there’s a bewildering array of products in its range.
We counted 25 in-car Nuvi models alone on its website, not to mention its outdoor, fitness and marine products. The Garmin Nuvi 765T, however, is the one that best matches the TomTom 730T, our most recommended sat-nav.
Free traffic updates
The 765T has full European mapping, 3D landmarks, lane assist and junction view. It also comes with free lifetime FM traffic information and avoidance, which is a good thing at this price, but with one caveat.
The FM TMC aerial is built into the 12v charger plug, which means you have two cables to disentangle and safely route along your dashboard every time you plug in.
We’d prefer to have two separate cables, even at risk of losing or forgetting the thin TMC one, but this is a largely subjective issue, and one you may feel you could live with.
Both power and traffic cables combine into a single lead that plugs into a proprietary connector on the cradle. Away from your car, though, the 765T can be charged using a conventional USB-to-miniUSB cable, which is useful, for example, if you want to charge it at a friends house before setting off home, free of the encumbrance of those dangling cables.
The cradle is reasonably minimalist with a simple ball-and-socket adjustment. There’s no way of tightening the socket and although it is good and stiff out of the box, we wonder if it will still be that way after six months of use.
Garmin’s menus and map screen are clear and straightforward, but there are actually several layers of useful information hidden away behind them.
Finding it all isn’t a particularly intuitive process, but if you prod away at likely looking parts of the screen, you’ll learn where it all is. Address entry and navigation is easy, and the main navigation screen is bright and colourful, in both day- and night-map modes.
Not for geeks?
There are only two windows for data such as speed, or time of arrival, which is good for safety, but bad for geeks. We prefer to have all sorts of useful bits of info available to us, with the option to turn them off if we’re getting distracted.
The Garmin’s graphical mapping engine shows lots of nearby street names, and handles movement well, but doesn’t show general areas, which can be useful in larger cities – for example, if you know you want to be heading generally towards Kensington, for example, but don’t know the local street names.
Slightly feeble speaker
Lane assistance works well, although the lane choice it shows on screen sometimes doesn’t quite equate to the voice instructions.
Traffic routing works very much in the background, with only a small green car icon to show that it’s active. The speaker for the voice instructions is a little reedy, but should be fine for most modern, quiet cars.
Better than TomTom?
So, overall the Garmin 765T is very capable: it’s well-made and navigates well. But, that said, it just doesn’t do it as seamlessly, intuitively and flexibly as the class leader, the TomTom Go 730. Given that there’s little difference between the two in price, we cannot recommend this over it.