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Garmin nüvi 880, 850 Car GPS | Best GPS 2009 REVIEW | Top-Rated GPS | Rated4Stars

Garmin nuvi 880, 850, 855 GPS: REVIEW

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Garmin continues to redefine the leading edge of vehicle GPS systems, and with the 800 series they’ve succeeded again with a truly hands-off GPS that accepts your voice commands, and does so accurately and intuitively. CNN/Money describes it as “…the most advanced speech recognition system on a personal navigation device to date.” According to U.S. News & World Report, “you won’t be disappointed with the Garmin nuvi 880.” Not only has Garmin set the bar higher with the 880, but once again, redefines the vehicle GPS as we’ve known it.

Ratings Summary
Includes ratings for Garmin nuvi 880 & 850
nuvi 880
Owner Reviews
nuvi 850
Owner Reviews

Editor’s Choice
Editor’s Choice
Our Rating: 5 Stars

Note: The Garmin nuvi 880 (pictured above) and 850 are virtually identical withthe exception of bluetooth capability, found only in the 880. 3250. This review and associated ratings include both models:

Building on the the overwhelming success of its nuvi line, which both dominate U.S. sales and consistently garner the highest owner satisfaction ratings, the nuvi 880 brings the strong nuvi heritage forward with a breakthrough in voice-recognition technology.

We were excited when vehicle GPS systems first introduced text-to-speech technology which reads street names aloud. It meant you didn’t need to read the street name from your GPS screen, allowing you to keep eyes forward on the road, an important safety enhancement. With voice control, Garmin allows you to keep eyes forward and hands on the wheel while navigating on the road, in our judgment an even more significant safety enhancement.

Several other vehicle GPS systems have introduced voice recognition, including Magellan’s Maestro 4250 and 3250, but, as a leading consumer magazine states, the nuvi 880 “takes speech recognition technology one step further than other units on the market by allowing the driver to control the device entirely with voice commands.” And its understanding of your voice commands is exceptional. According to CNET reviewers, “…we were blown away at its accuracy…Even with the radio in the background, the system was able to understand and compute all our voice commands and more importantly, perform them accurately.” A small remote (which attaches to your steering wheel, shifter, etc.) tells the 880 that you want to enter a voice command. Need some java? Simply say, “Find place, Starbucks.” That’s much easier than hunting and pecking on a touch screen in freeway traffic. (See demonstration video below.)


Feature-rich & very portable, versatile

Accurate & comprehensive speech recognition

Extra wide, bright screen is easy to read, even in bright sunlight

Conveniently integrated traffic receivers and FM transmitter

Ideal for frequent or international travel with additional “Travel Kit” features


Subscription required for traffic features; some “Travel Kit” features require additional cost

The 800 models include receivers for both FM-TMC traffic and MSN Direct services, giving you a choice of services for real-time traffic monitoring. A 3-month subscription to MSN Direct, which provides traffic and weather updates, fuel prices, movie listings, local events info, and more. If saving money on gas is important to you, the MSN service provides both the ability to avoid traffic and find the least expensive fuel.

Garmin has rolled out some other nice features with the 800 series, such as the ability to send addresses to your GPS directly from Google Maps or Mapquest. Simply find a restaurant or other location you want to visit on Google Maps or Mapquest and specify “send to GPS” and the location will automatically transfer to your GPS when connected to your computer.

The 800 series inherits the popular wide-screen design of the 600 and 700 series, but in a sleeker case. The 800 series includes text-to-speech capability which reads street names aloud, keeping your eyes on the road, not on the GPS. The 800 series also includes an integrated FM transmitter to send its voice-guided directions, audiobook or MP3 audio, or your telephone conversation via Bluetooth connection (not included on the 850) to your car’s stereo system speakers.

The Garmin nuvi 205, 255, 680, 780, 850 & 880 Provide Live Gas Price Updates via MSN Direct

The nuvi 800 series includes Garmin’s “Where Am I?” safety feature which helps you find the closest hospitals, police stations, fuel stations, nearest address and intersection. It also lets you see your exact latitude and longitude coordinates. Also included is the “Last Position” feature, which, among other things, can help you locate your car in a large parking lot.

Owners have given the nuvi 880 and 850 consistently high marks across the board. We noted a few complaints about the time the unit occasionally requires to calculate complex routes. While not inexpensive, those seeking a fully-featured top-end GPS that sets the standard for voice recognition and true hands-off operation will appreciate the Garmin nuvi 800 series. [Review Date: 5 July 2008 © 2008 Rated4Stars.com]


Key Features at a Glance
nuvi 850
nuvi 880
Ready to Use Out of the Box?

Includes maps of US, Canada

Includes maps of US, Canada
Spoken, Turn-by-Turn Directions?
Text-to-Speech? (Announces Street Names)
Voice Recognition?
Multi-Destination Routing?
MP3/Audio Player?

Plus audiobook reader

Plus audiobook reader
Live Traffic/Weather?

Integrated FM-TMC & MSN Direct Receiver; Subscription required

Integrated FM-TMC & MSN Direct Receiver; Subscription required
Suitable for Offroad Use?
Limited map coverage
Limited map coverage
(internal battery)
Wide-Screen Display?
Other Features:
Photo viewer, “Where am I?” Safety Feature, travel features
Photo viewer, “Where am I?” Safety Feature, travel features

Additional Specifications
Weight 6.2 ounces (176 g)
Dimensions 4.9″W x 3.1″H x .7″D (12.5 x 7.8 x 1.8 cm)
Screen 3.81″W x 2.25″H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3″ diag (10.9 cm); Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels; Display type: WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
Chipset SiRF Star III with 20-channel all-in-view; WAAS
In the Box nüvi 880/850, Preloaded City Navigator® NT for North America, MSN Direct receiver with integrated vehicle power cable 3 months free MSN Direct service,Speech recognition remote, Vehicle suction cup mount, USB cable, Dashboard disc, Quick start manual
Warranty One Year Limited Warranty


  1. Browsing around for a good GPS system

  2. Harper Callands says

    Received my GPS as a 2008 Christmas gift. I’ve truly enjoyed my latest gadget. Wonderful, dependable and easy to use. Reliable–Very pleased!


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