Life With the DS-86


Life With the DS-86
I have now lived with the DS-86 for over a month and know a lot about it. There is enough new and different stuff about the DS-86 to fill a large book. Garmin wrote 57 pages in the Owner’s Manual and only covered a small part about what is new and/or different from other current Garmin GPS systems. I will not try to make this epistle into a book, but just make some comments that may be helpful in determining if you are interested in the DS-86. As you most likely know, the DS-86 is part of the 66, 76, and 86 family. Some of the DS-86 features may not be shared with the other two. I haven’t used the 66 or 76 so I can’t comment on them.

It is evident that the DS-86 represents a new beginning for Garmin automobile GPS units. It is unique in almost every hardware and software feature and function. You first notice this when you take it out of the box because the mount is different from every other Garmin automotive mount. It is not only different, but unequally different because no other Garmin or third-party mount known to me will work on the DS-86. If you get the DS-86, you must deal with the supplied mount, or make one yourself from scratch.

The power system is also unique to Garmin because it has been changed to a USB-C system that works very well with the supplied power cord. In would seem that any USB-C cord would work, but I found out the hard way that all USB-C cords are not equal. Some are for one way transition only like a charging cord. Others are for two-way transmission. The DS-86 requires and is supplied with the two-way version.

When you start to use the DS-86 it is apparent that the software - all the software – is new. You first notice this change because those ugly green icons for every “Saved Place” that are displayed on current Garmin GPS maps and covered much of the route have vanished. Hallelujah!

Like many other digital products today, you must find out about all the features by discovery while using the product, not the Owner’s manual. I had this experience when trying to use the “Weather” and “Radar” function. On the DS-65, “OK Garmin, Weather.” Will get the current weather at the closest NOAA station. Click an icon and get the radar.

“OK Garmin” on the DS-86 doesn’t do the weather, and I was about to report this as a negative on the DS-86. But I pushed an icon on the map screen, and then one more and got the latest NOAA current weather plus five day forecast plus current Radar plus weather station location. And I can select and create other favorite locations that are saved for future use. A negative turned into a very big positive. The DS-86 is full of surprises like that.

A few features:
New unique mount: I like it.

Landscape and Portrait viewing: I like it.

Using car audio for GPS and phone: I like it.

Hands free phone calling by name in phonebook: Outstanding.

USB C power cable: OK. Allows powering from USB charger.

OK Garmin: Much improved – can speak to it in phrases.

Alexa: Still considering what to do with her.

Nine-inch screen: I love it.

The view from the BC-40 backup camera is larger and better: I love it.

Response to most functions is faster: Great.

One slight downer is the Alexa weather. You can ask about the weather locally or at another place, and you will get a full screen display of current and future temperatures and weather forecast and a very sexy female voice describing it. Alexa can’t show the radar. The problem is that these temperatures and data seldom are the same as the other Garmin temperatures. As stated above, the other Garmin weather data is official NOAA data.

Finally. Garmin replaced my original DS-86 because it developed a pairing problem with the BC-40. The exchange process took about ten-days, and I used my old DS-65 for that time. The DS-65 is a fine unit, but the total experience with the DS-86 is so much better that I would never consider going back.

I hope this epistle is helpful if you are considering the DS-86.



For the exposure.

How about things like POI's and their loading? Perhaps red-light/traffic radar ticketing systems?and the like?

On second thought, perhaps you might consider publishing a coffee table conversation peice about the various nuances of the DS 86 smile

Never argue with a pig. It makes you look foolish and it anoys the hell out of the pig!