Garmin Nuvi 1390 and 1390T Review - Part 1

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First drafted: 30 May 2010
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

The following pages are my review of the Garmin Nuvi 1390T and Nuvi 1390 portable GPS systems. Once again it is a long term review subject to updates every so often. The latest Garmin 1390 and 1390T is the replacement for the the older 265W and 265WT (which you can still buy as a bargain or clearance item?)  You can check out the full review I did on this website.  The only difference between the 1390 and 1390T is that the T has the GTM25 traffic reciever included as part of the package.

I bought the 1390T as a replacement for my older 265W for various reasons. For example: the new model appears to operate faster has updated map data and additional functionality that I would actually use. New features include eco-routes, presumably better GPS hardware and lane assist. The Garmin 1390T is also cheaper and has more functionality than equivalent models from Tomtom and Navman amongst other brands.

Open the Garmin box plug it into the car and it works straight away, once you input the relevant region and language settings. The experience with the rest of the package is essentially like the older Garmin but it appears that the company has invested in their online website.

After connecting the 1390 to the computer you have to download the Garmin web browser plug-in to get access to the website (using Firefox) which is about 13 MB. The website is an important feature of owing a Garmin these days BUT it is not essential the way it should be. Unfortunately it also requires you to register your new GPS before it will allow you to download the latest maps and system software updates. I do not like this method - since the website via the plug-in already verifies that the Garmin unit is the genuine item. With the clean installation of the Windows based Firefox web browser it worked perfectly. It also works on an Apple Mac using Firefox.

Out of the box and plugged into the computer the 1390T was running software version 3.6 and had 1125MB free space. I updated the system to version 4.1 and there was then only 1096MB free space (May 2010). You only get 60 days from registering with the website to download any map updates and you only get one free update within the 60 days. I suggest updating the Garmin's software before updating the map data. I presume any non-map software updates will remain free. For your information the software update took about 1/2 hour (fast internet connection) and make sure you follow all the instructions on how to do it!  I had to do it twice before the system recognised that the software had been updated. (25 - 40 - 50 - 58 - 83 - 91)

Note that the 1390T version implies that the GTM traffic receiver (for live traffic updates) is built into the main unit BUT it isn't. The GTM receiver hardware is still part of the power cable like some other brands - which initially I didn't feel happy about. I really wanted the receiver as part of the main unit. (Only the Nuvi 1490 series and above has an inbuilt traffic receiver). Unfortunately the higher end models cost too much. 

The physical construction of the Nuvi 1390T and regular 1390 is very good. The case is basically the same as the older models but have a rubberised back. The 1390 has a silver surround while the 1390T has a glossy black surround. They feel more study than the older models however it is not sleek as advertising material claim. The screen appears very much like the older models so nothing to complain about. 

The best part of the 1390 series is the improved user interface speed. However whiles the menu system has been sped up browsing speed of the map is still about the same. Overall it works slightly more smoothly then the older models. The same icon system has been retained since it works well. The trip computer has also been given updated graphics. Single finger kinetic scrolling using has also been expanded to the menus - but can be fiddly on certain screens. However when using it on the map screen, has been enhanced so that when you point to a legitimate position on the map it displays the address and other location information, which you can navigate to straight away of save for later - this function now works as it should!

BTW the menu system is much easier to use than the latest Navman GPS systems I managed to try at the shop.

The 1390 GPS receiver (so far) picks up the satellite signals pretty quick in under 30 seconds. Over time I'll update to page to report on whether it slows down over time as per the older 200 series units. You can also pair with your mobile phone to work as a hands free kit. Once again I tested this with the Nokia E71 and Apple iPhone 3GS and found that they both initially paired correctly. However will report back if there are compatibility problems over time. The Garmin mobile phone interface is easy enough to use while on the road. Check here for your phone's compatiability: Garmin - Bluetooth

Garmin also offers a number of additional PC and Mac software that allows you to customise the maps via Mapsource, route planning via RoadTrip and terrain and geotagging via the Basecamp software, Mapinstall allows you to install new maps for the system, POIloader to make custom alerts and of course adding your own voices with their Voice studio software. All the additional customisation stuff is handy and I'll go through them and tell you all about it shortly.

Best features on the 1390 and 1390T includes:
- a nice wide screen,
- very easy to use navigation system
- one touch trip computer information
- inclusion of fuel usage and costs data
- voice guidance
- fixed speed and red light camera locations included
- on and off road route history display

Since there is so much more to write about I am making up a new page to review the navigation component of the 1390 series.

Part 2: Garmin Nuvi 1390 and 1390T Navigation Tests Review - Part 2
Part 3: Garmin Nuvi 1390 and 1390T screen images

Garmin Nuvi 1390 and 1390T - Important Specifications

Dimensions W13.7 x H8.6 x D1.5cm

Processor

Not mentioned.

Screen

4.3" (10.3cm) 480 x 272 pixels colour TFT LCD

Memory

928mb RAM (1GIG) 366MB used and 572MB free

Battery

Internal Li-Ion

GPS Receiver

Not mentioned

Sound

Internal loud speaker

Connections Mini-USB for power and data
Wireless Bluetooth & GTM-25 Traffic receiver (1390T only)
Memory 2 Gig internal & microSD expansion card slot
In the box 1390 series GPS unit
Basic manual and promotional documentation
GTM-25 integrated as part of the power cable

Windscreen suction holder
USB cable
Dashboard disc

GPS Navigation equipment reviews - Main Menu

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