Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 850 review

Garmin nuvi 850 review
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.

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 850

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

Other Garmin nuvi 850 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 850 at these merchants:

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.

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. I just bought my first GPS (the Garmin 855 model from Walmar) online; ordered on Monday, delivered on Wednesday via FedEx for $2.97. I choose the Garmin over the TomTom because the 3 years warranty extension was $28 for Garmin and $32 for TomTom. Now that it is too late, will anyone tell me what I have gained and what I have lost by choosing this unit? No, I have not put it to use yet. I’m still reading the directions and etc. Don of Jacksonville FL

  2. I’d have to know which TomTom you were looking at, but I can already tell you that you got a brighter screen.

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