The Garmin nuvi 3790T is the sexiest, sleekest and best-looking GPS unit we've ever seen.
Most GPS units have employed a similar form factor for a number of years — generally housing a resistive touchscreen in a bulky plastic case. Garmin has gone against the grain with nuvi 3790T, banking on an ultra-thin design and a high resolution capacitive touchscreen to win over consumers.
According to Garmin, the nuvi 3790T is the slimmest GPS in the world. Measuring just 8.7mm thick and built with brushed aluminium and stylish chrome edges, it's without doubt the sexiest, sleekest and best-looking GPS unit we've ever seen. Despite the thin design, it feels solid and there are no rattles or creaks. Much the same way the Apple is viewed as the leader in mobile phone build quality and design thanks to the Apple iPhone, we think Garmin may now win similar accolades in the GPS space, especially if the company uses this design in more products.
The design of the Garmin nuvi 3790T GPS unit lends itself to being stored in a pocket, making it the first satnav that is ideal for pedestrian use. The nuvi 3790T includes a dedicated pedestrian mode and can be used in both portrait and landscape modes. For in-car use, the included car window mount features an external speaker that provides a welcome boost to the nuvi 3790T's regular audio volume. Whenever you remove the nuvi 3790T from its in-car cradle, Park Position Recall saves your parking spot automatically, allowing you to navigate back to it in pedestrian mode if desired.
Aside from its diminutive dimensions, the best feature of the Garmin nuvi 3790T is a glass, capacitive touchscreen that supports multitouch, meaning you can use pinch gestures on the screen to zoom in and out of maps. The process isn't as silky smooth as it is on the iPhone or many Google Android smartphones, but it works reasonably well. The screen is also the brightest and sharpest we've seen on a GPS unit to date, though the lack of ambient light sensor and its propensity to attract fingerprints are annoying. Garmin isn't the first to include a capacitive touchscreen on a GPS unit — that honour went to Navman's S300T.
When it comes to user experience, the Garmin nuvi 3790T is similar to most Garmin GPS units. A simple and effective interface is supported by a clear and straightforward map screen and large, clearly labelled icons in all menus. The bright screen does spruce up the maps, but if you've used a recent Garmin GPS device then it will largely be a familiar experience — and that is definitely a good thing. One feature we love is the snappy accelerometer, allowing the unit to be used in portrait or landscape modes. You can also customise wallpaper on the lock screen.
Voice commands are a feature new to the Garmin nuvi 3790T, allowing you to start a route by simply speaking to the unit. Use the default "voice command" phrase (which is customisable) to initiate the feature and the nuvi 3790T will display a clear list of command options on the screen. Employing the feature to find a specific address is a rather drawn out process, but it is reasonably accurate and effective for simpler destinations, such as saved home address or recently found locations.
Maps are clear and display surrounding street names, safety alerts (red light cameras, speed cameras, safety cameras and school zones) are preloaded and the Garmin nuvi 3790T includes a lifetime subscription to the SUNA Traffic Channel. Unfortunately, the slim build of the nuvi 3790T means that you need to have the bulky in-car charger plugged in to receive traffic updates (it doubles as the FM receiver required for traffic updates). A cool feature is 3D city modelling and terrain, while built-in Bluetooth means you can pair with your phone for hands-free calling. Like most GPS units, though, the built-in microphone has questionable quality for phone calls.
Garmin's Real View Advanced Lane Guidance is once again included, displaying an image of the road and its surroundings, along with road signs identical to those used in the real world. This feature is especially useful on busy freeway and motorway junctions. The nuvi 3790T also offers two new routing features — trafficTrends and myTrends. trafficTrends is similar to TomTom's IQ Routes technology and calculates routes based on historical traffic data, while myTrends remembers your most frequently entered destinations and will automatically predict your arrival time and the most efficient route without the user entering a destination.
We found the nuvi 3790T preferred to calculate routes using main roads rather than backstreets that are often slightly quicker. We also noted that both route calculation and the time it takes to gain and maintain a GPS signal is slightly slower than other Garmin units we've tested. We don't know if this is due to the constraints involved in trying to fit a GPS chip inside such a thin device. It doesn't have a huge impact on the overall experience.
The Garmin nuvi 3790T also provides the "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 nuvi 3790T 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. 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 for tax purposes.
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