Garmin Nuvi 3790T £319
9th Jul 2010 | 10:33
Is this the best sat nav ever? Very very nearly
Garmin Nuvi 3790T: Overview
Wow. If sat nav heaven is having Angelina Jolie jump into the passenger seat and asking you where you want to go, then the Garmin Nuvi 3790T comes a very, very close second.
With looks akin to the current iPhone 4G (but with better reception), the Garmin Nuvi 3790T is both slick, slim and very, very thin.
It's packed with features that include a full capacitive touchscreen, a high resolution 800 x 480 display and a user interface that's straight out of Apple's playbook. And then made a thousand times better.
We loved the TomTom Go 950 Live, but the Nuvi 3790T has not only picked up the ball and run with it, it's then jumped into a stretched Limo and driven to a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium on the other side of town.
The Garmin Nuvi 3790T is slim, measuring 122mm wide by 75mm high and by just 8.7mm deep, yet feels sturdy and well-made in the hand.
The 10.9cm glass WVGA display is bright and easy to see, even in bright sunlight. The fact that the glass is reflective didn't cause us any problems during our road test.
The back of the unit is covered in a mixture of black brushed aluminium and plastic, and this is where you find the speaker. The edge of the unit is covered in shiny chrome with a power button on the top.
The bottom edge also houses a USB 2.0 port (for syncing to your PC or Mac using the software supplied), as well as the proprietary windscreen mount. The right edge also has a microSD card slot for added storage.
Inside the Garmin Nuvi 3790T comes with all the usual trimmings, as well as some more unusual ones including an accelerometer for use with the full capacitive touchscreen.
This helps you use it in the windscreen mount in either portrait or landscape mode. In the box, you'll also find a 12v power adapter, a USB 2.0 cable and an FM antenna you can attach to the windscreen to receive traffic information – updates for which are totally subscription free.
Garmin Nuvi 3790T:Features, performance
Once you've gotten over the great hardware, Garmin bowls you over again. The Nuvi 3790T builds on the already considerable strengths of its user interface, making it simpler, smarter and even more feature-packed than before.
From the startup screen to the submenus, you're presented with big, bold buttons and beautiful graphics that make the user interface a breeze to find your way around.
The interface as a whole looks like it was designed by someone with a particularly strong iPhone fetish – only the results are even more spectacular, especially when teamed with the high-resolution display.
To give you just three examples: you get 3D terrain detail (hills, valleys, etc), PhotoReal representations of junctions that show you what the road looks like ahead and, of course, lots of lickable eye-candy buttons.
But the Garmin Nuvi 3790T isn't all surface sheen. Delve deeper and you'll find nuRoute with Traffic Trends and myTrends – Garmin's equivalent of IQ Routes and HD Traffic.
nuRoutes works out the best route for you depending destination and time of day, while also taking into account your preferred driving style.
Better still, route calculation is quick, and the system is intelligent enough to adapt should you choose to go off-route.
Once it realises that you're ignoring its nagging requests to get back on the route it's chosen, it plots another based on the real one you've decided to pick instead. Not many sat-nav systems are quite so quick on the uptake.
Other goodies? There are oodles of them. One licence-saver is the way the Nuvi 3790T flashes up Cyclops safety camera alerts on screen – they pop up in a black dialogue box if you're doing the speed limit and then pop up again in red if you over-do it.
The dialogue boxes are useful in another way – they tell you whether it's a red light camera, mobile camera or fixed camera you should be worried about, for example.
Points of Interest is another area where the Garmin Nuvi 3790T scores very highly. While lesser sat navs are happy to serve you with a list of fast food establishments when it comes to finding local restaurants, the Nuvi 3790T asks you what kinds of food you'd like to eat – from American to Mexican.
Points of Interest are also helpfully presented in logical categories: the Transit one is especially useful if you're trying to find a train station or airport, for example.
And because you can switch between being a car driver and a pedestrian, the Nuvi 3790T can continue to plot your route on foot. It can even help you find your car again using Park Position Recall.
But it's out on the road that the Garmin Nuvi 3790T impresses most. It surprised us with the route it took to our test destination, picking roads we'd never have dreamed of travelling on before.
The thing is, it was right. The route it picked was clever, the roads were practically empty and we managed to miss most of the jams.
The PhotoReal representation of one really tricky junction (where two motorways and local roads merged into each other) was really clear and easy to understand. The whole thing was such a doddle to use, we spent most of our time grinning like idiots.
We only have one real complaint. Like the Mio Navman 575, the Garmin Nuvi 3790T is afflicted with a horrible robot lady voice who speaks through a surprisingly poor speaker that easily distorts once you crank the volume.
Weirder still is the accent she uses. Part West Country, part German, part Geordie. Somehow you can't imagine Angelina having trouble like that.
Garmin Nuvi 3790T: Verdict
Garmin has done it again. Already renowned as a maker of some of the best sat navs known to Motorway Man, it's completely wrong-footed the competition by coming up with something that's in shouting distance of the iPhone 4 both for its touchscreen, but also in its user interface and ease of use.
In a nutshell? Design: brilliant. Looks: fantastic. Ease of use: excellent. Features and performance: Awesome. Do you want us to go on?
The real standout is just how brilliantly simple, intuitive, well-designed and stress-free the whole thing is. PhotoReal junctions have the whiff of genius about them. Ditto for the swooping, swiping, finger-pinch zooming capacitive touchscreen.
Mustn't grumble, must we? Oh, okay. The sound quality from the speaker and the dodgy robot voice with the iffy accent. Oh, Angelina, where are you?
We think the Garmin Nuvi 3790T is simply the best sat nav currently available.