We normally expect Garmin sat-navs to be comprehensively featured, but not keenly priced enough to really undercut their rivals. However, the nuvi 1490T we looked at a few weeks ago managed to pack a larger screen than usual for its price and features. In comparison, the nuvi 1240 takes on a more modest end of the market. This is an entry-level non-widescreen sat-nav with a 3.5in display.
Like the 1490T, the 1240 uses the latest Garmin interface, which is slightly cleaner looking than its predecessor, but otherwise similar in appearance. The most significant enhancements for everyday use are found when you input your destination. Both the address and points of interest (POI) database are freely searchable, so you no longer have to drill down through a rigid hierarchy of categories.
In the case of address-based destinations, the Search All option lets you enter house number and street name first, rather than having to start with the city. This will be useful in a number of circumstances. For example, it's not always obvious which adjacent rural village a street is normally associated with, or you may not know exactly what town a street is in. As you type in the name, you will be presented with a list of options to choose from, which you can click through until you find the one you want. This is also potentially quicker than entering an address the traditional way, even if you do know all the details.
The free search facility will be even more useful with POIs. Assuming you do know the host city, you will still be faced with the laborious task of scrolling through categories and subcategories to find your intended destination, and you may need to try a few options before finding what you're looking for. With Garmin's Spell Name POI option, you can simply input the title of the location. You will need to spell this title correctly, or at least the part you are using for the search. The search process is also a little slow. But if you're trying to find an attraction, particularly when on holiday, and you don't know precisely which town it is near, the Spell Name option could be a bit of a godsend.
Like the 1490T, the 1240 also supports cityXplorer maps when in pedestrian mode. Although most pedestrian settings will create routes which include pathways road vehicles cannot traverse, the mapping will usually miss out numerous potential gaps you could walk through, leading to a more circuitous route than necessary. It will also fail to include that other all-important factor of travelling by foot - public transport.