- Review Price: £249.95
Fortunately, there’s more to the 3790T than just a pretty chassis. It has a beautifully clear 4.3in widescreen as well. This has an 800 x 480 resolution, so shows more detail than other sat-navs. It’s a capacitive touchscreen, which is more responsive than the resistive touch systems employed by virtually all other sat-navs. It also lets you pan around the maps and scroll menus with a simple hand gesture, and even use pinch-to-zoom when browsing the map.
One of the most significant enhancements is the voice activation system. Garmin created one of our favourite verbal command systems a few years ago in the shape of the nuvi 860, which included a steering wheel-attached remote control for safer operation. The 3790T goes even better, as you can communicate with it using verbal commands alone. By default, the phrase “Voice Command” kicks off proceedings, but you can type in anything you like, and 3790T will give you a percentage score for your chosen command’s appropriateness.
In use, the voice activation is one of the best we’ve seen in any sat-nav. As long as you speak reasonably clearly, you can control most aspects of destination entry, including addresses, postcodes and points of interest. We found this system rarely misunderstood our speech, and even when it did, backtracking for a second attempt was easy. In fact, entering an address by hand began to feel clunky in comparison.
When entering a destination, you can search for an address by street only across an entire country without needing to know the town, and you can search for a Point Of Interest by keyword across an entire country. However, the two are separate, where some sat-navs allow you to search both databases simultaneously, such as the Mio Navman Spirit devices.
Route calculation has also been enhanced in the 3790T. Garmin now incorporates a system similar to TomTom’s IQ Routes or Navigon’s MyRoutes, in this case called nuRoutes. There are essentially two parts to the latter. The nuRoutes myTrends portion analyses your driving behaviour and adjusts its routes accordingly, so you need to have used the device for a while to feel the benefit. The nuRoutes trafficTrends portion takes a note of traffic behaviour to calculate the fastest routes. So regular historical jams at certain times of day influence navigation, as well as the live traffic updates provided by the built-in RDS-TMC system, although we didn’t find this quite as effective as IQ Routes for our test journeys.
You can install cityXplorer maps to provide walking routes, which include public transport in their calculation. However, these are quite expensive, with prices starting at £7.49 per city, so you will only want to purchase them for cities you plan to spend a lot of time in as a pedestrian. Garmin has made your life on foot easier, though, by giving the 3970T an accelerometer and allowing the interface to switch automatically from landscape to portrait, depending on how you orient the device. Whilst landscape mode is traditional when driving, portrait is much more comfortable when using the sat-nav handheld.
Another useful function for handheld usage is Park Position Recall, which automatically stores your location when you most recently removed the device from its mount. This can then be found in the Parking POI section. So if you’ve left your car on the street, or in a huge car park, and then promptly forgotten the location, the 3790T makes it easy to find your vehicle again.
The basic navigational map view is virtually the same as previous Garmin sat-navs, which is no bad thing as we find it mostly clear and aesthetically pleasing. However, the full-screen graphic displayed at major interchanges has been further enhanced and is now called PhotoReal Junction View. Where the previous version provided generic signpost images, PhotoReal’s signs look even more like what will be visible through your windscreen, and the accompanying scenery will be more lifelike too.
Garmin also promises 3D Building and Terrain views to help you get your bearings more easily, but we found coverage doesn’t extend particularly far in the UK. In fact, we didn’t find anywhere with 3D Terrain during testing, and 3D Buildings were only available in the very centre of London. We weren’t able to test any other major cities, but with so little of London included we don’t expect much difference elsewhere.
Traffic updates are available, too, but these come via the traditional RDS-TMC system, delivered by FM radio, as there is no mobile data facility like the Garmin nuvi 1690. So the 3790T offers no live services. There’s a traffic icon on the map screen that you can use to browse a list of current traffic incidents or get details of incidents along your current route. Traffic updates can also prompt rerouting, although the level of detail is not as great as TomTom’s HD Traffic, which covers a greater number of UK roads.
The 3790T’s windscreen mount includes all the electric connections as well. So you only have to clip the device on and it’s ready to go. The aerial for the RDS-TMC FM radio receiver plugs into the car power adapter, which then attaches to the mount. It’s a convenient system, although not quite as seamless as the magnetic mount provided with TomTom’s GO 1000.
The Garmin nuvi 3790T is one of the few sat-navs we’ve come across that elicits desire before you’ve even turned it on. Fortunately, when you do, the attractive looks are matched by a capable set of features as well. If you’re a regular rush hour commuter or travel frequently for business, we’d still recommend a TomTom device with HD Traffic, as this is noticeably more effective than vanilla RDS-TMC for avoiding jams. But if you want a beautifully functional sat-nav with particularly good voice control and on-foot capabilities, the 3790T fits the bill very well indeed.
Score in detail
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.