Garmin's latest flagship GPS unit is the Garmin Nuvi 1390T. It's a slim and compact GPS device that features a number of new features, including an excellent lane guidance function and a built-in traffic antenna.
Garmin GPS units aren't well renowned for flashy designs, instead preferring to keep things simple. There are no brushed aluminium-style finishes or glossy touch screens here; the Garmin Nuvi 1390T is a basic looking GPS unit with a gloss black frame and a rubber-style matte black finish on the rear.
The result is a very compact and thin device, with Garmin claiming the Garmin Nuvi 1390T GPS unit is 25 percent slimmer than the devices in the previous nuvi range. The included window mount is also compact and easily allows the Garmin Nuvi 1390T to clip on and off.
Though it may seem aesthetically underwhelming compared to flashy units from TomTom and Navman, the Garmin Nuvi 1390T's user interface is simple and very effective. Menu items are accompanied by either large boxes with text or clearly labelled icons. We would have appreciated a Bluetooth icon on the home screen to save having to access the tools menu.
The Garmin Nuvi 1390T's map screen is clear and straightforward. Most importantly the touchscreen is responsive and doesn't skip a beat. We were very impressed with the speed of this GPS; not only is browsing the menu zippy, it's also one of the quickest units we've tested at finding a GPS signal and rerouting when you take a wrong turn.
The Garmin Nuvi 1390T's map screen is spacious and, although the maps aren't as detailed as those used by some competing units, street names are clear. Enabling "more map data" in the settings menu places four boxes on the right side of the map screen that display information including distance and time to destination, current time, estimated time of arrival and speed. Safety alerts are preloaded; they trigger an audible alert and voice warning but the notification on the map screen is a little small.
The Whereis maps did miss a number of 'no right turns', but warned of all the red light cameras we passed during testing. On trips we regularly use to test GPS units, the Garmin Nuvi 1390T generally took the fastest route possible. However, like most GPS devices it has a tendency to prefer main roads rather than faster back streets.
Garmin's advanced lane guidance is the best we've seen on any GPS unit. Called Real View Advanced Lane Guidance, the Garmin Nuvi 1390T displays an image of the road and its surroundings, along with road signs identical to those used in the real world. The static image appears on the screen in the lead up to turn offs and is especially useful on busy freeway and motorway junctions.
The Garmin Nuvi 1390T GPS unit includes a lifetime subscription to the SUNA Traffic Channel (hence the ‘T' in the product's name). Like the Navman MY500XT, the TMC antenna is built into the in-car charger, so you'll need this connected to use traffic the feature. A couple of missing features are an FM transmitter and the ability to avoid areas when planning a route, while the basic route preview feature isn't really helpful and could use an upgrade to provide more detail.
Bluetooth is included for hands-free calling and once the device is paired with your mobile phone you can browse your phonebook, read and send messages, use voice dialling and access your call history. Like most GPS units with Bluetooth connectivity, though, the built-in microphone doesn't have the best range.
The Garmin Nuvi 1390T also provides an "ecoRoute" feature. This function can display a fuel report and choose an economical route. After entering the cost of fuel and your car's rated fuel economy, the Garmin Nuvi 1390T presents a report detailing the cost of fuel used, the carbon footprint and your average fuel economy based on your trips.
When in use, ecoRoute will also preview your route before it begins by displaying the total fuel cost - this information is calculated based on the fuel price, type and fuel economy entered into the vehicle profile menu. Strangely, you can't select premium unleaded fuel in the fuel type list, though diesel, ethanol and LPG options are available.
ecoRoute also has a "Driving Challenge" feature that tests your driving habits, in particular your ability to smoothly accelerate and decelerate. For business users, a mileage report is great for keeping a record.
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