Garmin Portable GPS navigation system model range

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First drafted: 7 November 2009
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

Garmin have updated their entire range for 2009/2010 this month and I managed to get a decent play with all the new versions. The entire range has been renamed and reconstructed.  The models are now called the Nuvi 1250, 1260 1300, 1340T, 1350, 1350T, 1370, 1370T, 1390 and 1390T collectively called the 1000 series.

They have also released the Nuvi 500 a more rugged version that is (IPX7 waterproof) which also shows topographic maps! The Nuvi 5000 a model with a massive 5.2 inch screen and a motorcycle friendly model the Zumo 550.

The model equivalent to the Garmin Nuvi 265W is the Nuvi 1390.

First impression is that its menu system hasn't changed so its still easy to use.  However have updated the computer hardware and operating system.  It works fast! You that it has new software by the re-positioning of the arrival time and speed box on the map screen.  Tapping on the speed box on the main screen will show the redesigned trip computer with additional trip statistics.  (The main purchase point for me!)  All models work much faster and smoother than the prior models.

All models are now TMC Traffic Receiver compatible so that you can get free live traffic information.  Unfortunately not every city has this service so I don't regard this a main selling point. See the link if you want more information on how to get SUNA or NAVTEC or FM based traffic information.

Garmin also has a NuLINK subscription service for additional information such as traffic, weather, movies, Google search and so forth like the TomTom LIVE service but its not mobile phone based.  Again the service is limited to certain parts of the world.

All models now have text to speech capability which has its good and bad points as you may have read in my prior reviews. My point with text to speech is that if you can't read the signs you won't know where to turn without some indication of distance.

Some models had voice activated navigation.  So you simply say the destination you want to go to and it register and search for you.  However it had issues with my voice.

All models also have pre-loaded speed and red light cameras and over speed as part of their database.  Some models have visual lane change guidance like the TomToms which I do not regard as a major selling point.  What I do regard as a selling point is the Garmin's ecoRoute feature that apparently navigates to your destination by the most fuel efficient route.  How effective this is - I'll have to report later.

The construction of the latest series of Garmin had definitely improved.  They are thinner and have a rubberised rear cover.  The cases come in either silver or a glossy black frame. The new materials feel and look better than the last versions.  They do not feel tacky like the new Navman GPS models. That said the TomTom's still have the best construction.

The screen resolution on all the models have remained the same except for the Nuvi 5000. The Nuvi 5000 has a 5.2 inch (800x480) widescreen which is the largest screen of a  portable car GPS - even better than the TomTom XXL. The only  problem is that it runs last year's operating system which good is not a good as the latest models and doesn't have bluetooth.

The major flaws are:
- Missing IQ routes feature of the TomTom.
- Subscription costs for information that is publicly available.
- High costs for update maps.

Would I buy a new Garmin? AT this point (2009) Not quite sure since there are so many more options for GPS navigation these days. BUT if I was looking for a stand alone GPS navigation system (Nuvi 1390) than this would definitely be on the short list - it is great value.

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