Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin nuvi 680 review

Hands on with the Garmin nuvi 680

UPDATE: Though still available and supported, Garmin has discontinued the nuvi 680. For newer models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

UPDATE: MSN Direct is ceasing operations on January 1, 2012.

I’ve tried out the Garmin nuvi 680, an update of the nuvi 660 that adds MSN Direct services (see coverage area), which it receives via FM radio signal. MSN Direct offers weather, movie times, gas prices and traffic. This also means that the source of traffic data is different than that of the 660, which receives TMC data. The first year is free; after that, MSN Direct service is $49.95 per year or $129.95 for the lifetime of the device.

The nuvi 760 offers even more features, but MSN Direct is an option rather than included in the package. There are now so many models in the nuvi line, that it’s easy to get confused about their differences, so I’ve put together a Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 680

Since this unit is so similar to the nuvi 660, I’m going to focus primarily on MSN Direct services in my review.

MSN Direct services on the Garmin nuvi 680

I live a few hours away from a major metropolitan area, so I had to make a couple of trips
to the city to try these features out. Within half an hour of getting into range and having reception, I had traffic
updates on my screen. I was pretty impressed by this, since the nuvi MSN screens
say it may take several hours the first time.

To access MSN services, from the main menu, press the MSN butterfly logo in the lower right corner of the screen.


Shown below is the main MSN menu screen.


Weather information is shown below. I was disappointed that so few cities were available when you select “Other City.”  I live on the California coast and a few hours drive to the city can result in radical temperature changes due to our microclimates, swinging from as low as 55 degrees on the coast to 105 degrees inland! So I was displeased to see that the largest city on the way to the Bay Area (Santa Rosa, with a population 150,000) was not included.


Here’s the 3-day forecast screen.


And here’s what the gas prices screen looks like. Yes, gas prices really are that high here.


I really like the way the nuvi 680 handles traffic info. A warning symbol appears on the map, showing the length of delay. If I see that it is only a one or two minute delay, even I can be that patient! A lengthy delay would have me asking the unit about detours though.


Pressing the traffic icon brings up a detail map.


Press the top bar for text details.


If multiple delays are on your route, you’ll see a “Details” button at the bottom of the screen.


Pressing it will bring up a detail screen. Use the arrows to navigate the screen to the next delay.


Traffic levels are color-coded as shown below…


Green shows low severity with traffic flowing normally. Yellow shows medium severity with traffic a bit congested. Red shows high severity with traffic heavily congested or stopped.

More Garmin nuvi 680 reviews


Other Garmin nuvi 680 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 680 at these merchants:


About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. One difference between traffic on the 660 and the 680 is that the traffic data the 680 gets from MSN Direct includes flow data — speeds from road sensors — not just incidents. The 660 receives only incidents.

  2. Sunny,
    Thanks for pointing that out. Now if my wife could only see the value in replacing my recently purchased 660!

  3. Theatre Movie Showtimes

    Click any of the showtimes to buy tickets and avoid the lines at the theater .Other features

  4. greg brent says:

    I was looking at getting this but now I see the news from CES about DASH which collects traffic data from web AS WELL AS other Dash users, which seems very cool if it works. I guess the GPS location and speeds get sent to data bank and it determines traffic conditions.
    Is it worth waiting for this? any thoughts

  5. Greg,
    The Dash may be THE hot GPS this year, but the question is, can they get enough users in each market to successfully implement their connected approach?
    A few other things to consider (1) There will always be a hotter GPS, just around the corner. (2) We don’t know how the nuvi 680’s improved traffic services will perform. (3) Unless you’re in California, you’ll have to wait till fall to get your hands on a Dash Express.

  6. Movie Showtimes

    (Doesn\’t she look like she\’s upholstered with gray velvet? Erin surveying th

  7. How is the volume on this 680 unit?

  8. I don’t recall any problems with volume when I tested it, which was some time ago. My 660 doesn’t have any problems with it either.

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