The Weather Forecast facility again mirrors a similar feature in TomTom LIVE, except that Garmin’s version lets you check weather in cities worldwide. So whilst the UK model of the 1690 only contains European maps, you can see what the climate’s like in Tokyo if you want to – and get a detailed 6-day forecast as well.
Aside from the aforementioned Phonebook, Garmin diverges from TomTom by providing a live currency convertor. A basic convertor was already available as a tool with a number of Garmin sat-navs, but previously you had to enter the exchange rate information yourself. Now NuLink! downloads it for you, making a quick check very rapid indeed.
Perhaps the most unique NuLink! facility is Flight Information. This lists the airports near your current location, allowing you to search for a flight number to check whether it’s on time and which terminal it will be using. This is a great facility for taxi drivers or anyone who regularly picks up friends from the airport.
Not every NuLink! feature is confined to the sat-nav itself. You can also install a plug-in for your Web browser which will allow you to send address information to your nuvi 1690. This was already possible with earlier Garmins, but only worked when they were attached to the host computer via USB. Now you can send the information wirelessly as well. When the device is on and has a mobile data link, the location will magically appear in the Favourites section ready for use as a destination.
Less useful will be the Ciao! Friend Finder. Once you have registered your sat-nav with myGarmin, this lets you link up with your mates to see where they are currently located. Except, of course, this system only works with other Garmin devices sporting NuLink!. So unless you can convince all your friends to buy nuvi 1690s it may not be so useful, although it could come in handy for a team of travelling salespeople.
Aside from offering more features, Garmin has found another way of competing with TomTom’s LIVE. Where the latter’s devices now come with just a single month of service for free, Garmin’s nuvi 1690 ships with a whole year of connectivity, and after that it’s £69.99 per annum, which is £10 cheaper than TomTom LIVE. This makes NuLink! considerably less expensive. Like the most recent update to TomTom LIVE, services are available in other parts of Europe too. In Garmin’s case, this includes 15 European countries, although not every feature will work in every country.
Other than the NuLink! features, the nuvi 1690 is very similar in operation to other premium Garmin sat-navs. It has a 4.3in widescreen, and the map view is identical. You get the usual safety camera warnings, and full-screen graphics to help you get in the right lane at complex multi-carriageway junctions. The pedestrian mode is also compatible with cityXplorer maps, so you can load these to plan walking routes which also suggest public transport links to shorten your journey.
We’ve waited a long time for another manufacturer to put up some competition for TomTom’s LIVE, and finally Garmin has met the challenge and even upped the ante somewhat. It’s a shame that the traffic provision is not as powerful as TomTom’s HD Traffic, but otherwise the nuvi 1690 meets every TomTom LIVE feature with aplomb, and adds a few very useful extras on the top. Garmin also undercuts TomTom considerably on price. The subscription costs are still not exactly cheap, but you won’t have to pay them for a year. So if you can make do with Trafficmaster-based traffic, the Garmin nuvi 1690 is better value. Over to you, TomTom.