CES 2009: New Garmin nüvi 885T GPS does lots

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CES 2009: New Garmin nüvi 885T GPS does lots

Las Vegas (NV) – Garmin brings to the Consumer Electronics Show this year its usual round of announcements around new GPS systems and technologies. One new model standing out for 2009 is the upcoming nüvi 885T, priced around $800 and due out in the next few months.

The nüvi 885T, according to Garmin, combines voice activation, lane assist with junction view and random content from the MSN Direct radio service. A mounted to the steering wheel, push-to-talk wireless remote lets drivers interact with the 885T via voice by speaking commands which match the buttons on the 4.3-inch color, touchscreen display.

The lane assist with junction view function details upcoming maneuvers and specific driving directions, including road sign detail and arrows indicating the proper lane for navigation. The MSN Direct offering, meanwhile, costs extra money after a trial and provides access to a variety of distracting content, including weather, traffic conditions, movie listings and news and stocks information.

Other features of the nüvi 885T include Bluetooth for hands-free calling with paired phones, MP3 playback and association of favorite images with saved locations. It comes preloaded with maps of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Sidenote by Rick C. Hodgin

I don’t know how many of our readers have a Garmin or TomTom or other GPS-aided map system for navigation, or even use them. But, I would like to go on record stating personally that it is hands down the best electronic tool I’ve ever purchased. The Garmin nüvi 205 I bought last year was on sale for $149 at the time. It allows driving options that were not previously possible, at least without a comprehensive personal knowledge of the immediate area.

Suppose you’re on an Interstate and you can see the road ahead is backed up for miles. Rather than guessing on how to get around the obstacle, or pulling out an awkard paper map, Garmin allows one to simply drive off the Interstate and either browse the map to find a route, or just keep driving. As you drive along, the device constantly recalculates your route and takes you through every turn step by step.

Additional features allow searching for gas stations, food, car parts, shopping, and a plethora of other types of businesses, all from the “Where to?” screen. The list of available options is selected showing distance in miles and general direction (as the crow flies). Choosing or inserting a destination is just a touch or two and then the selectable voice (I prefer the Australian female voice) guides you all the way.

I would never have thought such a device would be desirable. In fact, had anyone asked me what I thought about such a device before I used it I would’ve given it a very harsh criticism, citing my grandfather’s motto of “a man should always know where he’s going and how to get there from reading a map.”

I can honestly say now, though, that anytime I’m traveling to other cities I feel completely disarmed without my Garmin (when I’ve loaned it to other family members for a time). Having it there in the car just gives a person a real sense of security. I think it’s hard to describe until personally witnessed.

My only real fear is what I once saw on an episode of Robot Chicken and Lisa the GPS. Ouch!