UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.
The Garmin nuvi 850 is a member of the 800 series nuvi family, the first Garmin products to feature voice recognition. I covered that feature thoroughly in my hands on review of the Garmin nuvi 880, so this review will primarily cover the differences between the two units and how to get a deal on the nuvi 850 with an MSN Direct receiver.
Basically, the two units are identical, except that the 850 lacks Bluetooth for hands free cell phone use (a dubious feature given the sound quality) and doesn’t come with an MSN Direct receiver — though one is available as an add-on. More on that later.
Like the 880, the nuvi 850 includes the new “instant on”
startup feature, which eliminates the long wait for maps to load when powering up the unit. Other new features include a consumer-replaceable battery and photo navigation, which I personally don’t find useful.
More Garmin nuvi 850 features
As you might expect, the nuvi 850 has a 4.3″ color touch screen, built-in FM transmitter, MP3 player and more. It also incorporates the features that first showed up in the 700 series:
- Multi-destination routing
- Automatic sorting of multiple destinations to provide an efficient route
- Tracklog recording (the blue lines below)
- Speed limit display for many interstates and highways (also shown below)
- The newer internal antenna found on the nuvi 200 series
- Automatic marking of your last position when the unit is turned off (to help you find your car in mega-mall parking lots)
- A “Where am I” safety feature that gives your current location,
nearest address, nearest intersection, along with quick access to POIs
for the nearest hospitals, police stations and gas stations
More Garmin nuvi 850 reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 850 reviews have been posted at GPS Now.
- Circuit City gives a 9.25 out of 10 rating in their Garmin nuvi 850 review.
- GpsPasSion has posted a nuvi 800 series review thread.
- I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin nuvi 850 resources
- There is a Garmin nuvi message forum at GpsPasSion.
- Want to see how the nuvi 850 stacks up against other units? Check out my own Garmin nuvi comparison chart or use this handy Garmin auto GPS comparison tool.
- Garmin has a nuvi 800 series mini-site.
- The official Garmin nuvi 850 web page.
- How to access archived nuvi trip logs
- Five tips for nuvi newbies
Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 850 at these merchants:
- Find the low price on a Garmin nuvi 850 at GPS Now, where shipping is free on orders over $99 (and the upgrade to
overnight shipping is dirt cheap!). Order by 5 p.m. Central Time for
same day shipment.
- Check the current Garmin nuvi 850 price at Amazon.
- Get the
Garmin nuvi 850 Portable Automotive GPS System w/ Voice Recognition
at TigerGPS, where you get free shipping on orders above $250.
- Get the Garmin nuvi 850 for an amazing price on eBay.
Get a deal on the nuvi 850 with MSN Direct
If you don’t need or want the 880’s Bluetooth feature (and I have to say that I am not impressed with Garmin’s Bluetooth sound quality), have I got a deal for you. Both the nuvi 850 and 880 are compatible with MSN Direct. The 880 costs $200 more (at the time of this post) and comes with an MSN receiver and three month subscription. But if you buy the GDB 50 MSN Direct receiver separately, it comes with a one-year subscription. You can get both the nuvi 850 and MSN receiver from GPS Now, one of our favorite vendors, for around $920, $80 less than the nuvi 880 that comes with a shorter subscription period.