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Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav review




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Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • Garmin nuvi 1490T Sat-Nav
  • nuvi 1490T Automobile Navigator (12.7 cm 5" Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD - USB)


Our Score:


Personal navigation devices are designed to be portable. But the small screens which pocket friendliness entails can be a little hard to read. Larger devices are available, but they're not common, and usually priced according to their size. Garmin clearly intends to change all that with the nuvi 1490T. Where most widescreens have a 4.3in diagonal, the 1490T's extends to 5in.

Despite its large screen, the nuvi 1490T is not particularly hefty or fat. In fact, it's no heavier than TomTom's GO 740 LIVE, a mere 4.3in widescreen device, and a little bit thinner. The screen mount is a simple suction cup and clip system, leaving you to connect the mini-USB-based car power adapter. The latter also incorporates the necessary aerial and FM receiver hardware for picking up RDS-TMC updates, a UK subscription for which the 1490T includes.

Garmin has given its interface a mild update, for a slightly cleaner appearance. This wasn't strictly necessary, as Garmin's design is about the most logical on the market, with a clear hierarchy between the features you will use all the time and those you will call upon less frequently. The most amusing update is the section where you can change the car icon. This looks like a large 3D showroom, with a ceiling spotlight picking out your current selection. Not exactly useful, but fun.

Entering a destination follows the usual options, and at first glance this hasn't changed at all from previous Garmins. You can enter an address, select a point of interest (POI), or enter raw coordinates. However, there is an important addition to the address and POI sections - the ability to do a general search. If you are in the address section, Search All allows you to enter a street name without knowing the town it's in. You will then be given a list of possible matches to choose from. Navman added a similar feature with the Keyword Search facility included in its Spirit devices, such as the S100. It's really very useful indeed.

However, a general search is potentially even more handy when it comes to POIs. With most POI systems, you not only need to know what town your POI is situated within, but also which category the sat-nav manufacturer will have used to store it. This isn't always logical, and it can be quite time consuming hunting around for the right category. Garmin's Spell Name lets you find any POI in the country simply by its title. Again, Navman got there first with its Keyword Search, but this is still a facility not every sat-nav has. TomTom's latest devices allow you to search freely within a city, near a destination, or along a route, but not globally across an entire country.

The other major new feature is ecoRoute. This was released as a free software update for the 205 and 705 models in February 2009, but it comes as standard in the 1490T. First, you enter the urban and extra-urban petrol consumption figures for you car. You can then select routes which use the least fuel, as well as those which are fastest or the shortest distance. You can also get reports on your fuel usage, and set yourself driving challenges where you minimise consumption, receiving a score out of 100 representing your achievement.


November 22, 2009, 10:55 pm

Dreadful. The software on my four-year-old TomTom One was far more sophisticated than this!

The volume doesn't increase/decrease with the car's speed, the voice is tinny and hard to understand, there is no option to fine-tune a route (eg by avoiding a certain road or town), the speed camera warnings are frequently at the wrong speed, causing unnecessary beeping, and the camera warning flash obscures the next section of road.

Fortunately, the traffic information didn't work on mine, so I was able to return it.

NB My model was the 1390T (same but 4.3" screen)


December 2, 2009, 4:56 pm

Most of your comments seem to revolve around the speed cameras, these don't need to be activated, the only worthwhile speed cam database is that from PocketGPSWorld.com, much cheaper and way more accurate in every way.


December 4, 2009, 5:17 pm

No, that was the least of my problems with it. Had I had to keep it, I would just have disabled speed cams and forgotten them. I just found the device and its software such a backward step.


May 14, 2010, 7:54 pm

I find your comments interesting Biggles, particularly as I would like the feature you describe "...option to fine-tune a route (eg by avoiding a certain road or town)..." Do you mind telling me if you found that feature on any other sat-nav device, if so, which one? I can't find it in any manufacturer's literature.

... also, I would like to be able to plan my routes on my PC and then download them to my device. Have you come across that feature anywhere?

Thanks Martin


June 21, 2010, 10:49 pm

Biggles I'm not trying to be rude, but I've now read a lot of reviews on this sat nav and your comments are the only ones to mention this things. I don't quite understand the extreme determination with which you are bad-mouthing it, having seen this precise comment now on reviews of several different related nuvis on the Which reports, and elsewhere. Why comment on every Garmin to complain about the 1390? I appreciate the 1490 is virtually the same, but you've commented on other models with entirely different features for no apparent reason. Not entirely sure I understand your motive for the spatter approach of criticism.

Ron 1

October 27, 2010, 11:42 pm

I've had this model for a month or two now.

Positives - large screen - easy to read.

Good turn by turn instructions.

Negatives - estimated journey times are far too optimistic and misleading and there's no way of tweaking the settings as there was on my old TomTom Go 300.

Exceeding the speed limit warnings kick in far too early and are constantly chiming out. On the Go 300 you could set them to come in at say 10 mph above the limit - to sort out those times when you may just be a tad over the motorway's 70 mph.

Phoned the Garmin Support line and their attitude was 'tough - live with it'.

In summary - it's good but by no means perfect.

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