- Review Price: £110.83
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.
The cityXplorer maps are designed to be more detailed and include tram, underground, train and bus routes which will expedite your journey. Calculating a route when in Pedestrian mode within a city for which you have a cityXplorer map loaded calls up a list of options. Different choices of public transportation time are taken into account. So you can select how much time you want to spend on foot. You are then guided from your current location to the station, with instructions on which train to take, and then onwards on foot to your destination at the other end.
The cityXplorer suggestions functioned as expected for our test routes in London, taking us to appropriate tube stations near our start and finish points. So this could be a useful feature when navigating a foreign city. Unfortunately, though, the cityXplorer maps are not free, and they’re not particularly cheap either. Prices start at £7.49, and larger conurbations are more expensive. For example, London is £10.99. So as useful as City Explorer could be, it’s pricier than your average A-Z town map. Not every map includes bus routes, either. Annoyingly, this is true of the London data.
You can also download all manner of useful travel information, such as the Good Pub Guide, AA City Guides, and the Falk-Marco Polo TravelGuide for Europe. All of these cost extra, although you can get a complete bundle of seven AA Guides for £24.99, which includes everything from days out, to bed and breakfasts, to campsites and golf courses.
The 1240 also integrates Garmin’s Ecoroute system. This is intended to help you drive more economically. Initial setup involves inputting the type of fuel your car uses, a typical current price, and the urban and extra-urban consumption figures quoted for your make and model of vehicle. You will then be able to choose the Less Fuel routing option, instead of just fastest or shortest. This will attempt to find the combination of roads which keeps petrol consumption to a minimum. You can even turn being eco-friendly into a game using the Challenge option, which rates your actual driving out of 100 for fuel economy.
However, the 1240 does lack one or two features we have now come to expect even on the cheapest sat-navs. There is no lane guidance at complex motorway interchanges. As such you don’t get a realistic 3D view of junctions and their signage to make absolutely sure you get in the right lane. No route planning is available, either, meaning you won’t be able to set up a journey which stops off at multiple locations. Also, live traffic updates are only available as a £30 optional extra per region. The usual safety camera locations are pre-installed, however, with a one-year subscription costing £29.99 if you want it kept up-to-date.
The Garmin nuvi 1240 isn’t perfect. However, unlike other entry-level Garmins we’ve tested in the past, such as the nuvi 215 the 1240 is keenly priced considering the features available. It includes full maps of Western Europe, yet comes in at just £110, making it distinctly cheaper than the equivalent TomToms, and only slightly more expensive than Navigon’s 1210. With the excellent free address and POI searching, clear mapping, and support for City Explorer, the nuvi 1240 makes a great budget choice, particularly if you’re looking for a cheap companion for European holiday travels.
Score in detail
|Screen Size (inches) (Inch)||3.50 in|
|General Features||Voice Prompt|
|Battery life (Hour)||4 Hour Maximumhr|
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