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April 19, 2008

Garmin nuvi 780 GPS Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 3.5 of 5
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36. Configuring System Settings

System Settings
Figure 149: System Settings

The Settings menu is accessed by tapping Tools (the wrench icon) >Settings.

Figure 150: Changing the Map Settings

Tapping on Tools >Settings >System brings up the Map settings page shown above.

Map Detail allows you to configure more or less map detail. More detail will make map redraws take longer. I found this also varied greatly on your location. For example, on a small country road, setting more or less detail made no difference. In downtown Boston, however, setting to maximum detail slowed things down a bit. I ended up leaving this on its default setting.

Map View
Figure 151: Map View

Map View allows you to change the perspective of the map from 3D to 2D. In 2D mode, you can also set whether you want the map to show North at the top, or "Track Up", which shows your direction at the top.

Trip Log is a new feature that displays the path you've taken on the map, much like a trackback.

Map Info displays the currently installed map software version.

Usage Mode
Figure 152: Usage Mode

The Usage Mode menu is accessed by tapping Tools >Settings >System >Usage Mode, and allows the nuvi to route using either Automobile, Bicycle, or Pedestrian modes. When set to Bicycle or Pedestrian modes, the nuvi 780 will adjust the estimated arrival times as well as the suggested path to take.

Note that the nuvi 780 also has an Off Road navigation mode, but that is accessed in a different menu and accessed by taping Tools > Settings > Navigation > Route Preference > Off Road > OK.

Route Preference
Figure 153: Route Preference

Tapping Tools > Settings > Navigation > Route Preference > Off Road > OK brings up the Route Preference menu, shown above. This menu allows you to specify how you want the nuvi 780 to calculate routes.

By default the nuvi ships set to Faster Time mode, which will choose routes that might be longer distance but have shorter estimated drive times (i.e. taking highways instead of shorter surface roads).

Shorter Distance will force the nuvi to pick the shortest physical distance, even if it will result in a longer drive time.

Off Road allows the nuvi to route off road.

Setting Avoidances
Figure 154: Selecting Avoidances

The Avoidances menu allows you to specify things the nuvi should avoid when choosing a route. By default U-Turns and Traffic are checked.

The Avoidances menu can be used as a round-about way of forcing the nuvi 780 to exclude highways. For example, if you're driving at rush hour and know the highway will be backed up, checking the Highways avoidance will force the nuvi 780 to take surface roads instead.

Unfortunately there's no way to avoid, or exclude, specific roads or highways - a feature sorely missing from Garmin's entire nuvi product line.

Keyboard Layout
Figure 155: Keyboard Layout

Thankfully Garmin has added the ability to switch between a QWERTY or ABCDE keyboard. Personally I like the default ABCDE keyboard layout, but I know many customers strongly prefer a QWERTY style keyboard and will be pleased to see this feature included in the nuvi 780.

37. Keeping the nuvi Up-To-Date

Garmin WebUpdater
Figure 156: Garmin's WebUpdater Software

Garmin provides an easy utility for updating the firmware/software on all their GPS units. Garmin's WebUpdater software can be downloaded from Garmin's Website. The utility automatically checks the model number connected to the computer (via USB), the version of software currently installed, and the version available for download. If a newer version is available on Garmin's website, the WebUpdater will ask if you want to install the new version. Of course, if you prefer, you can still download the individual updates for the nuvi manually.

Garmin also releases map updates once per year, generally at a street cost of around $65. Updating the maps is also important in order to ensure the best possible GPS navigation experience (after all, what could be more important to a GPS than the quality of the installed maps).