UPDATE: MSN Direct is ceasing operations on January 1, 2012.
UPDATE 2: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.
The Garmin nüvi 885T is Garmin’s top of the line voice command navigator. Updating the nuvi 880, the 885T adds junction view, lane assist and a speed limit indicator. It is also compatible with the third generation of MSN Direct services, including doppler radar and flight status.
Comparing the nuvi 885T and 785T
Despite these improvements, the 885T does not include all the features found in the 785T. It is missing the following:
- 3-D buildings
- A2DP Bluetooth
- Recent cities and streets folders that speed searches (though these aren’t really necessary if you’re using voice commands)
- Customizable data fields
On the other hand, the 885T has the following features which are not present on the 785T:
- Removable battery
- Dual speakers
- Voice command
- Custom avoidances (avoid specified streets or areas)
- Backup camera input
This is unfortunate – there really isn’t one top of the line Garmin nuvi. If you want the best, you’ll need to choose between a 7×5 series and an 8×5 series unit.
One other note; the nüvi 855 has all the features of the 885T except Bluetooth and MSN Direct, though the latter can be added by buying an MSN receiver. To see how the 885T stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
Using voice commands with the nuvi 885T
The nuvi 8xx series offers the best voice command feature of any GPS unit on the market. I covered this extensively in my Garmin nuvi 880 review and rather than repeat myself, I’ve shot a quick video demonstrating the voice command feature:
I remain impressed with this feature. Popular Places even had ‘”libraries” and “rest areas.” Nevertheless, it is much faster to enter many things by hand, though the voice recognition feature is nice for anything that would involve a lot of keypad entry, like addresses and cities.
I tested MSN Direct services in two metropolitan areas with coverage – Charlotte, NC and Greenville/Spartanburg, SC, yet I don’t feel like I had enough time to judge its effectiveness for traffic, gas prices and the like. I have included a few notes below, along with some screenshots. MSN Direct third generation features include:
- Traffic reports
- Weather – Current conditions, three day forecasts and Doppler radar (I love having the latter)
- Gas prices – While I didn’t end up finding and using a gas station with this feature, it did let me know what prices were like, so I knew it when I saw a good deal
- Send to GPS – Allows you to wirelessly send address and phone number from Live Search maps to your GPS
- Local events
- Movie times
- News headlines
- Stock quotes
- Airport delays
- Flight status
Here’s the MSN Direct main menu:
The nuvi 8xx series allow you to set custom avoidances. Follow the link for a full run down on this feature. You can select streets (or portions thereof) or rectangular areas to avoid. The only other nuvi with this feature to date is the nuvi 5000.
I was able to successfully pair both my phone and my wife’s — an LG VX8300 and a Motorola V325i. It picked up everything except the phone book on the Motorola, but got it all from the LG.
The sound quality was better than many Bluetooth units I’ve tried, but still not quite as good as the nuvi 7×5 implementation, which remains the best performing that I’ve come across. Interestingly enough, the sound quality was better for the person on the other end than it was listening to the call on the nuvi. I will add one caveat here; this is a very subjective evaluation, so YMMV.
Lane Assist and Junction View
I had previously experienced this feature using the 7×5 series in Atlanta, and I think Garmin has done an excellent job with it. Unfortunately, coverage is woefully lacking, as I did not see any signs of it in Charlotte or Greenville / Spartanburg. I can understand the latter, but c’mon, Charlotte is the 18th largest metro area in the country. Maybe it’s because I stuck to the northeast side of town, but I thought I would at least see it on I-85.
On top of all this, the nuvi 8×5 series includes:
- Pre-loaded maps of the U.S. and Canada
- Multi-destination routing (and auto-sorting)
- Where Am I? (find closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection)
- Garmin Locate™ (marks position when removed from windshield mount)
- Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos)
- MP3 / audio book player
- FM transmitter
Garmin nuvi 885T recommendation
If you do most of your driving alone, and especially if you succumb to the temptation to use the GPS touch screen while driving, I highly recommend the Garmin nuvi 885T. The voice command system makes it one of the safest GPS units to operate, and it is without doubt the best voice command navigator on the market.
However, if you usually have a passenger with you who can operate the device, or have the self-restraint to not operate it while driving, you might choose the nuvi 785T instead.
Finally,a recommendation for Garmin — charge what you will, but please, give us a top of the line unit that combines the features of the nuvi 7×5 and 8×5 series!
More Garmin nuvi 885T reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 885T reviews are being posted at GPS Now (click the Reviews tab)
- More consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 885T reviews have been posted at Amazon
- GPS magazine has posted their own Garmin nuvi 885T review
- PC magazine gives a 4-1/2 star rating in their review of the nuvi 885T
- LaptopMag.com gives a less enthusiastic 3 star rating in their Garmin nuvi 885T review
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin nuvi 885T resources
- A PDF version of the Garmin nuvi 885T owners manual
- Want to see how the 885T stacks up against other models? Check out this Garmin auto GPS comparison tool or my own Garmin nuvi comparison chart
- There is a dedicated Garmin nuvi message forum at GpsPasSion
- The official Garmin nuvi 885T web page
- How to access archived nuvi trip logs
- Five tips for nuvi newbies
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- Find the Garmin nuvi 885T GPS Navigator w/ Speech Recognition, MSN Direct, Bluetooth at BuyDig.com
- Find the low price on a Garmin nuvi 885T 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 nüvi 885T price at Amazon
- Get a great price on a Nuvi 885T GPS Navigation System from Abe’s of Maine
- Get the Garmin nuvi 885T Bluetooth Automotive GPS System w/ Lane Assist, MSN Direct & Voice Recognition at TigerGPS, where you get free shipping on orders above $250
- Get the Garmin nuvi 885T for an amazing price on eBay