Garmin nuvi 1390T Sat-Nav - Garmin nuvi 1390T

By James Morris



Our Score:


As the T in the name suggests, the 1390T includes real-time traffic updates. These come via the traditional RDS-TMC, not the Navteq Traffic system provided with the new nuvi 1690. So an FM receiver is built into the car power adapter, which must be plugged in and receiving electricity for the system to work. You will also need to be able to receive radio reception. An icon will then appear in the navigational map screen, which you can use to browse the traffic updates received and take a closer look at any which might affect you. The routing system will also take traffic jams into account when calculating a path to your destination, so will take you away from any gridlock which can be avoided by an alternative route. However, as always with RDS-TMC, the infrequency of updates and far from universal road coverage mean it’s not exactly infallible.

The Tools menu offers a few extra widgets, which you could live without but might come in handy when on a journey. The picture viewer with slideshow capability is probably the least essential, but there’s also a world time clock with three customisable zones, a unit convertor, and a calculator, all of which you could envisage finding useful at some point. However, one widget we would like to have seen is a route planner. Creating a journey with multiple waypoints may not be something you do every day, but you will want to use it occasionally, particularly if you need to calculate the length of a journey which includes a number of drop-off points.

Garmin’s navigational map screen is as clear and uncluttered as its menu system, with different types of road colour coded, but using sufficiently few categories not to get confusing. Road names are shown onscreen, with your current speed at the bottom right and direction of travel, elevation or time of day on the bottom left. A bar at the top illustrates your next turning.

Speed camera notifications pop up as you approach their location, coloured in red if you happen to be above the limit. However, in areas where mobile cameras sometimes reside the notifications tend to ping a bit too frequently. The 1390T also offers full-screen lane guidance, showing which carriageway to be in at a junction and providing a realistic facsimile of the road signage to look out for. This is now an almost universal feature in sat-navs above entry level, so any device without it would be behind the times. Fortunately, Garmin’s version is as well designed as any.


The Garmin nuvi 1390T’s current street price puts it on par with Mio’s Navman Spirit 500 and TomTom’s XL IQ Routes Europe 42, although the latter doesn’t include live traffic updates. Choosing between the Garmin and the Mio is tough, as they match each other so closely on price and features. However, the Mio’s keyword search and Google Local Search facility in the Bluetooth-enabled Hands Free edition, which costs the same as the 1390T, just give it the edge. But only just.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 9
  • Features 8
  • Design 9


December 21, 2009, 7:52 pm

Who's the incosiderate one who's parked the Porsche across two spaces in the video!!!?

James Morris

January 11, 2010, 4:54 am

Couldn't possibly comment.

Guybrush Threepwood

January 16, 2010, 4:47 am

Are there any differences between this and the 1490T except for the screen size?

john alexander

April 25, 2010, 10:38 pm

Hi just sending back my 2 week old 1390T . Probably the neatest sat nav on the market, however I would have been better off with a toaster on my dash . Where to start , The next village was out of position by 1 1/2 miles ,tried to take me down a road that was shut off at least 15 years ago when the A71 Calder bypass was built. Could not find my old home either by adddress or postcode despite the house being 40 year old . using it to go home it missed the slip and took me to the next roundabout and sent me back io the slip on the other side . I tried it side by side with a tom tom and it tried to send me south instead of north . It was totally unreliable, and yes it had all the add-ons but could not perform the basic funcion. I hope this review helps. John.


February 28, 2014, 3:50 pm

LOL, your post is 4 years old, I doubt you'll ever read it but I know what you're thinking so here is my explanation to your question:
I always try to park in 2 parking spaces whenever possible, if I'm in a public parking I actually pay for 2 spots so I can do that legally and display both parking tickets on my dash, if I'm in a none paying parking lot I park as FAR AWAY as possible, they main reason I do that is simple, to prevent aggravation and to try to idiot proof my vehicle, you see, many years ago I saw a guy in an old beat up Chevy truck park right next to a brand new Mercedes Benz, when he opened his door he kicked it open so hard that when the door hit the Mercedes it bounced back and hit him as he was trying to slide out, annoyed he kicked it again, this time harder and he put his foot on it to make sure the door stayed and didn't bounce back, I saw this as I was walking by, so I stopped and I said "you know, what you just did is not only irresponsible and inconsiderate, it's also illegal, you just dented and scratched that car's paint", he responded "is this your car?", I said "no, but it doesn't matter, I saw what you did", and he said "then if it's not your car is not any of your business" and he got back in his truck and left, he knew it wasn't my car because I was walking between the other row of cars in front; After that brief encounter, and before he had a chance to escape, I memorized the his license plate number, make, model, and color of his truck , and a description of him including the clothes he was wearing, then I went sat in my car, wrote it all down, and waited for the owner of the Mercedes, after about 10 minutes the owner a sweet old lady came out, I told her what had happened and gave her a copy of my notes with my business card and told her I would be more then willing to be her witness if she went to court. A couple of days later I got a call from her insurance agent, he wanted me to do a phone interview which he was recording to take to court, which I happily did. People like that a$$hole in the Chevy truck are the reason some of us park taking up 2 spaces, again I wont do it in a crowded parking lot, but if I can help it, I park alone and far away, or go somewhere else.

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