Friday, October 19, 2012

Last of the mohicans, Garmin 855


An affordable GPS unit for automobiles that contains all the features you need for nav and music listening.  All built-in and no plugging required

State of Market

Almost all affordable units in stores do not contain MP3 player features, I believe because it would cut into sales of aftermarket head units.  You can usually only find the feature through an online order.  I have not tried other brands, as most of the features I require I've so far only seen in Garmin.  Over the years, there are only a few models available that have all the features at any given time.  Also, units with lifetime maps do not have MP3 features.  The one unit that does have both does not have a line out port, making the MP3 player useless.

Required Features

  • Line out/head phone connector
  • Dock connector
  • Muti-point nav with importing via GPX
  • MP3
  • SD card slot


When starting your car, the GPS receives power, and boots up to the main screen.  The MP3 player was playing your playlist when you turned off the car, so it resumes in the background, playing from your SD card with your entire music collection on it.  You can choose a destination and the routing commands pause the music to speak.

If you want to create a custom route, such as for a car club, you can prepare it before hand.  You can do this on the unit itself, or using tools such as Google maps and a converter to GPX.  The unit only holds 10 routes ready, but can have as many GPX files staged for import as needed.


New and factory refurb units come with one free map update, and it can be updated twice if there happen to be new maps within 90 days of first registering the unit.  Used units do not come with this feature.

Available units

I prefer to buy on Amazon, for shipping and return ease.  If there is any problem with a sub-seller, big brother Amazon has my back and they always come through.  The Nuvi 885 is the only model on Amazon at the time of this writing for under $150, and there is a refurb shipped free for $110.  Previous models that met my requirements were the nuvi 780 and nuvi 360.  I still use them both every week.


Both my nuvi 360 and nuvi 780 had bugs in their Bluetooth software/firmware, making the feature unusable.  They each were serviced by the factory with no success.

Permanent Mounting in Vehicle

I took the leap and permanently mounted my GPS on my dash.  I drilled a hole for a small bolt, and attached the GARMIN 010-10823-03 Adjustable Suction Cup.  After removing the suction cup, the bolt goes through the existing hole and into the dashboard, secured with a small nut on the inside, wedged inside a supporting plastic rib.  I also added a bolt to restrict the height the arm can droop, better supporting the weight of the GPS.  This works best if you press out the hinge rod and reinstall the arm backwards.

No comments: