Once Garmin announced the Nuviphone
, it was clear they knew the writing was on the wall. The challenge for GPS manufacturers and a handful of portable product makers (like, say, Pure Digital
) is what they're going to do now that mobile phones in the U.S. are starting to deliver improved video, photo, audio, GPS, etc.
One approach: do as TomTom does and start making apps for the iPhone
and other platforms.
Another approach: keep adding features!
Garmin's nüvi 1490T sports a fairly responsive five-inch touchscreen, microSD slot, picture viewer, and Bluetooth. You're also getting some of the best Garmin has to offer in terms of mapping, including ecoRoute
(for hypermilers), traffic alerts, up to 10 saved routes, and lane assist, to name a few. The GPS is great, too: I actually discovered a faster route from my home to the freeway (a route Google Maps has never once suggested).
Best of all, the 1490T is commendably lightweight (7.8 ounces) and extremely thin (0.6 inches thick), presumably to make it easier to pocket, too.*
Unfortunately, the battery life isn't quite up to snuff, at least not for a device intended to be carried wirelessly. On one trip, my fully-charged 1490T lasted just over 2 hours before the "low battery" message came on the screen. Not a big deal if you're in the car, but for a device intended to be carried with you, presumably, everywhere and anywhere, it's certainly something to be aware of.
If you're hoping to take this sightseeing or hiking for any prolonged period of time
, I'd argue this is somewhat of a dealbreaker, especially since the 1490T only comes with a USB cable and 12-volt adapter. Thus, if you're out and about and looking to score some juice from a standard wall outlet, you'd need to pocket an adapter &mdash otherwise, you're SOL (three letters that should never come to mind when you think "GPS.").
What's also missing: MP3 player/FM radio, headphone jack, Web browser, camera, and it can't make calls obviously (though it can be paired as a speaker for your cell phone). Sure it could be construed as entirely silly to expect all of these, but for $500
, maybe holding my breath for some of these features isn't too much to ask?
*note: I never attached the device to my windshield, mainly because I'm terrified of adding additional blindspots to my car. As a result, I left it sitting either in my lap or on the center console. Easier to grab when exiting, but unfortunately the speaker is in the rear. Thus, I had to choose between viewing the screen and muffling the sound, or forgoing the screen for a reasonable volume. Not a huge deal, but felt worth mentioning here in smaller print.
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