Saturday, March 24, 2018

Misleading Battery Life Specs from Garmin Nuvi 780

April 10, 2010 by · 14 Comments 

Garmin nuvi 780I recently purchased a Garmin nuvi 780 portable GPS, and quickly noticed that the battery life was much less than the spec’d – averaging 45 minutes for me before low battery warning and subsequent shutdown in less than 60 minutes. With a battery life advertised “up to 5 hours” this seems well short of the mark (i.e. 1 hour = 20% of spec’d life). Customer service informed me that, “In order to get this maximum [battery life] we had to shut off the GPS receiver, turn the brightness all the way down, sound completely off, and no navigation just to run the battery down on only essential processes.” For the record, I was using my Nuvi 780 at 70% screen brightness, sound off, and bluetooth on but not connected to a device. (With Bluetooth off I found no noticeable difference in battery life).

Hmmm? What other electronic devices that you own advertise ’25 mpg’ and deliver ‘5 mpg’? We all recognize that an electronic device will rarely get the full advertised battery life, but achieving 70%-80% of the stated performance is, I think, generally accepted as realistic by the typical consumer.

…So the only way to get anywhere close to a useful amount of battery life is to not use it? Unfortunately I live in a major city and just getting out of the city can take 45 minutes! I recognize this would be a non-issue if I plugged the Nuvi 780 in. My mistake was buying it to use on my motorcycle which lacks a power outlet (cigarette lighters aren’t that useful on a bike…)!

While perhaps Garmin is meeting the letter of the law in testing and advertising battery life, they are falling significantly short of meeting the average consumer’s expectation of battery performance in electronic devices. Have you had similar experiences with your Garmin GPS?

PS –
Garmin does make motorcycle-specific devices that sell for a considerable price premium. Interestingly their spec’d battery life isn’t better overall. So to help inform readers still considering a Garmin GPS I’ve created a handy conversion chart. This chart calculates “real world” battery performance for their products based on the spec’d battery life (assumes 20% of rated life = actual life):
Zumo 220: up to 8 hrs = 2 hours real world
Zumo 665: up to 3 hours = 36 minutes real world
Zumo 660: up to 5 hours = 1 hour real world
Zumo 550: up to 4 hours = 48 minutes real world

Happy riding! Just don’t forget to write the directions down.

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