At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Garmin introduced the Nuvi 885T and Nuvi 855, the latest members in the top-scoring Nuvi 800 GPS series. The Nuvi 880 excelled in our tests, distinguished by an effective voice-recognition system, however its software trailed behind that used in other Garmin units. With the 885T and 885, Garmin has brought the brand's latest features, such as lane assist with junction view, to its new flagship navigators.
Like the 880, the 885T includes an MSN Direct receiver to access traffic data, as well as information on local gas prices, movie listings, and weather. Microsoft has launched a major upgrade to its service that will benefit both devices, with more information and reportedly faster access—something that is much needed based on our testing.
The enhanced traffic service now includes 94 cities, up from less than 40, and it includes secondary roads. The previous version of traffic relied heavily on road sensors and incident reports, whereas the third-generation MSN Direct service puts more emphasis on speed data from moving vehicles. This enhanced traffic flow data is now available on existing units that have the MSN Direct. In addition to the improved traffic, the weather information includes live Doppler radar, but this feature will only be available on new models.
The Nuvi 855 is MSN Direct compatible but does not include a receiver. The other difference between the two is that the Nuvi 855 does not offer Bluetooth connectivity.
Both GPS devices have a 4.3-inch screen, removable lithium-ion battery, FM transmitter, and maps of the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. They use spoken street names for guidance, and they provide several extras, such as photo viewer, MP3 player, photo-based navigation, speed warning, and "Where am I?"—a helpful way to get current location and quick access to contact information for nearby emergency services.
The Nuvi 855T ($800) and the Nuvi 855 ($700) go on sale winter 2009.
—Jeff Bartlett and Mike DiLauro