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311 of 333 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Retina-Like GPS. Superb, Lightweight, Just Great!!!
I have been using GPS units for years and just upgraded to the new Garmin flagship GPS, the Nuvi 3597. What a joy this unit is. It is like an iPhone 5... svelte, lightweight and simply gorgeous. It (like the iPhone) can be slippery and slip out of a case or your hands.

I like this new hardware design. It has a MUCH better on/off switch. It's actually a...
Published 17 months ago by Michael

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455 of 479 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Garmin giveth, Garmin taketh away
So I've had the 3597 for almost four days, but I've used many a Garmin before, going back to the GPS V. (I've also owned the 3490, 3790 and 1695) As usual, Garmin decides to update the new model year with some new features (Active Lane Guidance and Real Directions are the main ones) but then remove others (user updatable speed limits and dashboards come to mind). I...
Published 17 months ago by J. Stuart


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455 of 479 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Garmin giveth, Garmin taketh away, May 3, 2013
By 
J. Stuart (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
So I've had the 3597 for almost four days, but I've used many a Garmin before, going back to the GPS V. (I've also owned the 3490, 3790 and 1695) As usual, Garmin decides to update the new model year with some new features (Active Lane Guidance and Real Directions are the main ones) but then remove others (user updatable speed limits and dashboards come to mind). I really like this new model, but would only ask for a couple of features to return to make it outstanding. All of my cons could be considered nit-picky, but they're still cons in my book. All told, I would still recommend the 3597.

SW Version 2.60

Thoughts that come to mind:

Pros
+ The 5-inch display is very crisp and clear, but can be reflective depending on how you position it in your car. Love the big screen!
+ More street names are shown on the map than previous models, roads not on your route are more frequently labled at all zoom levels
+ Voice activation works well for me, even with windows down
+ HD traffic (included) works well for me in San Diego; however see below for comment around traffic with Smartphone App
+ Advanced lane guidance. While not included for all junctions, it's useful to know exactly which lane you should be in as you approach tricky junctions/intersections
+ Current street shown
+ Volume with speaker mount is very good. With windows down I only have to boost the volume to 60 or 65 to hear directions.
+ Magnetic mount - bring the unit close to the mount and it just snaps into place by itself, much improved.

Cons
- Lack of dashboards, or specifically of more data fields. I really miss having more than two data fields. One being current speed (cannot be changed) and one other. I miss being able to view time to destination, arrival time, and distance to destination all on the screen at the same time, like any of the previous models. Hopefully this will be changed in a SW update...? By the way, you can include trip data in the "sidebar", but those are limited to Direction, Max Speed, Moving Avg, Overall Avg, Stopped Time, Moving Time, Total Time, Elevation. Why just those "trip" fields?
- I had previously purchased the traffic through the Smartphone App for Android and it's hit or miss. I can have cell reception on my phone, but the GPS won't be able to receive data. By keeping the traffic on the sidebar, it can confirm that it will go minutes without being able to update the traffic info. If it connects at startup but then isn't able to connect, all traffic data goes away until it can successfully connect again. I'm hopeful this can also be updated via SW update.
- I miss the three onscreen shortcuts found in the 3490 - it takes an extra button press to do a "where to" search, or get traffic info. A minor annoyance, but still a feature subtracted from the previous model.
- No user updatable speed limits - a feature removed from previous models. While I understand they're only included as a guide, it would be nice to change them if they are incorrect.

* Real directions. I'm indifferent to this new feature. "Turn left at the traffic light" versus "Turn left on University Ave" doesn't really make much difference to me. Though I did run across the downfall of implementing this feature... "Turn left after La Salsa" only helps when La Salsa is still in business. Unfortunately it was not, but I knew where to turn anyway.

* I tend not to use the bluetooth functionality for phone calls, so I can't answer to the quality on this model.
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311 of 333 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Retina-Like GPS. Superb, Lightweight, Just Great!!!, May 3, 2013
By 
Michael (Fairfax County, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I have been using GPS units for years and just upgraded to the new Garmin flagship GPS, the Nuvi 3597. What a joy this unit is. It is like an iPhone 5... svelte, lightweight and simply gorgeous. It (like the iPhone) can be slippery and slip out of a case or your hands.

I like this new hardware design. It has a MUCH better on/off switch. It's actually a button on the back that is so much easier to use than the old small button at the top of the unit. That had always been a frustration for me. Not this one. So much easier to find and use.

The windshield mount is magnetic. What a great idea. The unit just gets pulled into the right position and you are good to go. Much easier and simpler than the 3590 I replaced. And the mount is powered so no cords to plug in. Just take the unit and move it within range and it locks into place. Wonderful design.

The user interface is also much cleaner and simpler. The new voice prompts sound like a good (female) friend giving you directions. "Turn right at the traffic light." "Turn left at the end of the street." The voice itself is much nicer sounding and the street pronunciations are much, much better. Garmin calls this "Real Directions, with Real Voice." The screen itself is less cluttered and less colorful which makes for an easier experience. The speed limit sign is now towards the bottom left corner. And the actual speed you are driving is close by. If you go over the limit the box gets a red border. At night it is a bit more difficult to see when it turns red.

The screen is simply great. I liken it to retina display (as in Apple fame). What a nice crisp screen. Very nice.

Lane assist is still there and as before very useful. My only mild complaint is that the proper lane is now a white arrow and the other lanes are grayed out. It is a bit more difficult to see with the background, especially when in night mode. The voice prompt now says stay in the second lane from the right, etc. Nice touch. And in some cases there is a rolling roadway showing your proper lane in a nice highlight that moves as you are moving and goes poof when you are done with that maneuver. And photoReal junction views are still wonderful with real road signs. This continues to expand on this great feature.

One new addition is the name of the road you are on at the bottom center of the screen. That is a great new feature. The next turn info at the top of the screen has better info and does a much better job at letting you know what is coming up in a crisp interface.

The prior interface had the option for you to set up three shortcuts on the screen, something I liked using.... mute, detour, traffic were my picks. And I found them helpful. No more shortcuts always on the screen, but now though you can add a number of them and access them with a touch and then choose which one you want. Upcoming gas, food or other options is a great option. This involves a two-step process as opposed to the one step one before. But you have more choices. I would have still liked to have a few always on the screen, especially the mute button. To mute now would require three touches.

New now is the ability to link to your iPhone (and Android) through the Smartphone Link app. You can access weather, road cameras, parking, etc. This is I believe the first unit to have the ability to link to your iPhone. Nice feature. You can purchase upgrades, like advanced weather with radar for about $5.

I have not been able to access much traffic info (lifetime digital traffic and map updates are included) since I have been at the outer edges of reception. Since it uses the same cable as the 3590 for HD traffic I imagine it would be similar. In the past I haven't had many complaints about traffic, other than the coverage. Hopefully coverage is getting better as the months go by.

Any issues??? Well, I mentioned the hard to see lane assist arrows... white with grayed out lanes, and more difficult to see at night in night mode. The red border when going over the speed limit, more difficult to see at night is another issue. I have found it takes a bit longer than I would have expected to get to the next screen once you hit the `Where to' portion of the screen. More lag time than I would have thought. I will have to test it out some more and see if it's just at start up. Speaking of start up, this unit got connected to satellites very fast.

All in all, this is really a great step up. I highly recommend it. I wasn't sure it would have been a major upgrade from the 3590, but I am pleasantly surprised that it is and more. Your smartphone map app or GPS app can't compete with this beauty.

You will enjoy using this new flagship unit from Garmin.
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225 of 244 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Same old Garmin. They add some new features but take some away, May 7, 2013
By 
J. Mursuli "gadget_man" (Palatine, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
GPS Experience: We have driven 46 out of the 48 lower states in RV's and lately Motorhomes. We don't use maps and always travel with with a PND. I have owned and tested every top-of-the-line Garmin since their first few models. We currently own a 3490LMT, and a 3590LMT.

On to the 3597;

PRO'S:
- Display - Great looking screen and colors. In Apple's term it's like looking at a Retina Display vs NON-Retina on previous models
- Display(cont...) - The 5-inch glass capacitive display supports multi-touch, so you can pinch and zoom map graphics and other data. It features a sharp 800-by-480-pixel resolution and is bright and colorful. Unfortunately, the glass shows plenty of reflections
- Feel - The unit is made of aluminum and feels absolutely solid. This is the highest quality GPS unit that Garmin has produced.
- Magnetic mount - great idea. There is no bracket that holds the unit to the mount, its held to the window mount by a very strong magnet that clicks into place most of the time. Sometimes you have to wiggle it into place.
- Map display - beautiful colors; shows the current street and the upcoming street as well as two customizable fields.
- Street names - More street names are shown on the map than previous models, roads not on your route are more frequently labeled at all zoom levels
- Real directions - The Garmin will try to speak extra instructions for turns, for example. "Stay in the left two lanes" or "turn left at the traffic light".
- Voice Command - Here are some of the voice activated commands; view map, find place, find category, find intersection, recently found, find address, find city, saved places, stop route.
- HD traffic (basic included free) has NOT worked correctly in a week that I have owned the unit here in Chicago. I have been in traffic which was NOT reported and sometimes it reports traffic that is NOT there; yes its updated every 30 seconds; however if you don't get a signal you don't get any warnings. There is no signal while driving some of the Chicago suburbs. This is also real problem for us since we travel often and you only get HD traffic at most major cities but not while driving between major cities. I thought that with the smartlink Android app I would be able to connect the garmin with my smartphone via Bluetooth but I find out that this is only available by paying for the $30 per year option. Sorry but I don't like paying for traffic when it's sporadic at best. So far in a week of testing the traffic has never been accurate. I don't understand why if all the PND makers are losing customers daily to smartphone users they can't provide "advance" traffic for FREE.
- HD traffic(cont...) - you can view a large display on the right that indicates an upcoming delay(gone are the color traffic dots), how far along in the trip the traffic is located, how long the delay is, and how much time a suggested reroute would save.
- POI files can be added - You can still add your own POI files(CSV), automobiles icons, and guidance voices.
- Routes - route are somewhat accurate and logical MOST of the times. ADVICE: Make sure you use the GPS in your home town everyday so you know how the Garmin will guide you in a familiar place before your use it in another town.
- Arrival time; I drive a 1 hour route 3 times a week and the Garmin gives me an arrival time that is 20 minutes later than another brand GPS that I compared it to. As I travel on the route the time is always being adjusted. Of course if they keep adjusting the time during the trip you should get there at the stated time.
- 3-D Buildings & Terrain depict landmarks and the natural landscape in North America. Great view while driving in a downtown area or a hilly road.
- GPS signal reception - good most of the time but does not work well in the downtown area while driving through the concrete jungle.
- Bluetooth; Can use as a speakerphone; can read text messages(on most phones); can connect to Smartlink app to transfer POI's
- Search option - When searching for a POI the 3597 now shows the built-in POI's as well as the POI's installed by the user. Great addition,

CON's:
- CON:POI database is missing many establishments that have been around for many years. PRO: You can use Goggle, Yelp and others to search for POI's and send them to your GPS using the smartlink app.
- Smartphone link services - The Free stuff is too basic so you have to pay for the premium services like the weather, advanced traffic, and traffic cameras
- Expensive; not worth the upgrade if you own a 3490 or 3590.
- Mini USB port on the back - Most modern devices use micro USB. Garmin's previous models had micro.
- Route calculations and recalculations are slow. It takes approximately 10 seconds or more to recalculate. Sometimes it tells me to turn on a street that I have already passed up. I'm sure Garmin will fix this on a future firmware update but for now it's frustrating waiting for a new route.
- HD traffic is sporadic. On several occasions it tells you that there's traffic when in reality it was clear.
- Speed limit icon; took away the ability to change the posted road speed limits
- Screen customizations; took away the ability to add more icons to the main screen
- Modes- took away pedestrian mode. Once upon a time they had car, bus, and pedestrian modes.
- Hands Free - the built-in mic is still not the best when talking hands-free. People say that i sound like I'm in a cave.
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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a total makeover!, June 1, 2013
By 
Zeppy "Zeppy" (Massachusetts, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I haven't bought a GPS for about 3 years. I was still using my Garmin Nuvi 255W. Well, in comparison, no, there is no comparison actually. The speed that it detects where you are as you travel is incredible. No more missing turns because of delayed response time to the GPS tracking system. So many more options - Read all the other reviews. The screen is amazing as well, the picture quality is unreal!

There are additional features that you can purchase however. If you have an Android phone you can download the app "Garmin Smartphone Link" and you have the additional options of Purchasing "Advanced Weather (North America)" for $4.99, "Fuel Prices (North America)" for $9.99, "PhotoLive (North America)" for $4.99, and "Live Traffic (North America)" for $19.99. Then Link your smartphone to your Garmin via Bluetooth and you have Live traffic updates and avoidances, Fuel Prices being displayed at Gas stations, PhotoLive feed from satellites around, or the Weather of where you're traveling to.

Just Wow! I opted for the Traffic Live and I haven't been disappointed.

07/01/13 - I've been using the Traffic Live for a few weeks now, and let me just say, it takes me almost a different route every day. About 3 of those times I became irritated that it was taking me on a route clearly out of my way so I opted to go the way I knew and not listen to what the GPS said. What a mistake! I got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic all 3 times. The other routes may have been longer but they would've probably gotten me home quicker. So, even if the route seems like a weird way to go, just take it. You'll be bummed otherwise.

I liked the Traffic Live so much that I bought the Fuel Prices feature. Finding the cheapest and closest gas station in an area that you are unfamiliar with (especially with the way gas prices are now a days), is an invaluable tool to have. I love it!

IMPORTANT NOTE: I've read the instruction book thoroughly and it doesn't mention this anywhere so I learned it the hard way. This unit doesn't shut down all the way each and every time you turn it off. The older unit used to go to the "GARMIN" screen and load up every time I started my car. This unit just begins on the home screen so you can just tap in where you want to go and use it without the loading wait time.
DRAWBACK: DO NOT pull unit off the magnet OR press the off button while it's still giving you directions. If you have the machine programmed to take you somewhere, then "X" out of it and then shut it off. Also, when you shut off your car and the unit is doing a countdown, let it count down and shut itself off before pulling it off the magnet to stow away or put in your purse/briefcase. The older unit had an option to "cancel" or "shut off" whereas this unit just has an option to "cancel". There is a very good reason for that.
RESULT: If you do pull it off the magnet while it's shutting down or while it's giving you directions you will have a glitchy system upon next navigation. I've had my GPS stutter and skip whole sentences, and I've had it freeze completely in an area I'd never been to. It was very scary. I couldn't even shut it off once it was frozen like that. The screen just stayed on until the battery died. Once I plugged it back in and it turned back on it went back to normal. I'd realized what I'd been doing and I now don't do it. As a result, I've had no mishaps in the last couple of weeks. Also, try to not leave it in the car. This is a very advanced system and you cannot treat it like every other piece of electronic toy or gadget you own. You do kind of have to baby it a bit. It's delicate. I'm okay with delicate, I just didn't realize that it needed TLC. So if you like to play rough with your toys, this is NOT the GPS for you.
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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great upgrade from 3590, May 3, 2013
By 
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I ordered this from eBay since I wanted to have it for an upcoming road trip. I received it yesterday.

You can check out my other Garmin GPS reviews but sufficient to say that I've had them for over a decade. My last model was the previous version of this model, the 3590. I usually upgrade every 1-2 years depending on what new features are out.

Quick summary: it's expensive but it's the best GPS unit I've owned so far! The unit is easy to use, quick and beautiful. There are a lot of software/display tweaks in the 2013 line that alone (for me) make the upgrade totally worth it. I had a 3590 and I have no regrets so far upgrading to the 3597.

Pros:
- The unit is actually made of aluminum and feels absolutely solid. This is the highest quality GPS unit I've owned from Garmin. The slender metal body and glass screen make it feel like you are holding a large, modern smartphone in your hand. It really doesn't feel like any Garmin I've had before. Big plus.
- The magnetic mount is pretty cool. There is no bracket that holds the unit to the mount, its held to the window mount by a very strong magnet.
- New 2013 software update: the display is the best I've seen from Garmin. They've finally got the issue of display clutter vs. sparse display solved! The new display shows the current street, up coming street as well as two customizable fields. The new services (like weather, traffic, etc) can be brought up and slide in from the right. One more new feature that I LOVE is that you can add custom shortcuts to the "Where to?" screen. I added one that searches for the nearest Dunkin Donuts from where I am and another for frequent addresses. The benefit of this is that you can initiate these searches or directions with just TWO taps. Great!
- The display really is the best I've seen in a Garmin. The viewing angle seems much improved and the display itself feels "tougher". I know the 3590 is also glass but it doesn't feel as robust as this glass screen.
- Smartphone link services - really impressed with the weather, it costs $5 extra per year. Can overlay hourly forecasts on the driving map or show an animated radar map!

Cons:
- Expensive
- Mini USB port on the back - Most modern devices use micro USB so I have tons of those cables lying around, this is the only device that still uses mini USB so I have to keep the cable around just for map updates. Just a minor hassle. The 3590 used micro usb so I'm not sure why they reverted here.
- HD Traffic, not impressed - as another reviewer mentioned, I am seeing "no traffic signal" on major highways and cities.
- Real directions haven't added any value to me so far - The Garmin will try to speak extra instructions for turns, for example. "Stay in the left two lanes". The reason I have issue with this is that I usually have the radio on so when I hear her instructions, it is so long that I will not hear the first part so the rest doesn't make sense to me.
- Voice Command - voice activated control - which I love on the 3590 seems a bit over-sensitive on this model. It will pop up sometimes when the radio is on, the 3590 never did this. I will add that VC feature is improved on this model in that you can setup your own magic phrase.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Ready For Primetime, July 7, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Review of the Garmin nuvi 3597 using the V2.8 firmware

I started with a 755T, moved to a 2495, and now have a brand-new 3597; I should have stayed where I was with one of the older, more capable GPS's.

The 3795 got a workout during its maiden voyage, when we went from Ohio to North Carolina on a 6-day, 1837-mile trip. Prior to the trip, I got on Garmin's site and updated all necessary files, as well as bought any applicable apps for my iPhone 5.

We drove on Interstates, US highways, state routes, and county roads in 5-states. I wish I could say the 3795 performed well, but that would be a lie. I wish I could say it did as well as my earlier two models, but that would also be untrue.

During our trip, it was tethered to my iPhone 5, for which I had paid extra to add its traffic capabilities to the GPS. Unfortunately, even with the phone's supposedly enhanced abilities, the GPS failed to see ANY of the traffic construction areas, or the single traffic accident we passed.

It looked at some hard curves on the Blue Ridge Parkway as being a turn to be made, even when the curve was not an intersection. In one instance it also failed to notify me when I came to a major intersection along an Interstate, not reminding me to stay on the Interstate to the left, rather than take the new road to the right. This latter problem is no big deal, although it is inconsistent with Garmin's past policy to notify the driver to stay on his current path as opposed to changing course.

The 3795 also has an astounding preference to plot a new route WAY out-of-the way, rather than put me back on the original route when I get off-course temporarily after a stop for food, etc. For example, I pulled off an Interstate 200-yards to make a Starbucks stop. When I drove out to the intersection that connects to the Interstate, it gave me a new route that traveled hither-and-yon through the `back forty' to another Interstate entrance miles away, rather than the one I just got off from and was looking at. This problem has since repeated itself several times.

In the same vein, the unit also doesn't like main roads. It preferred to route me along back roads with reduced speed limits and stop signs, rather than give me direct routes to my destination along main roads. And yes, I had it set to take me via the route in the least amount of time. Sheesh.

In addition to these problems, when I got off-route with my older units, the voice would say, "re-calculating", and do that to get me to where I needed to go by the shortest route. Not so with the 3795. With the new GPS, it would insist I go back the way I came and pickup the old route. If it did, finally, pick a new route, the voice would stay silent.

I also didn't care for the terse verbiage. With previous models, voice assist would give me more information when being told to make a turn. Thank God the unit had a visual representation of upcoming turns, even though it meant taking my eyes off the road.

Lastly, at random times a black-and-white screen would popup giving me options to access more information. This has to be a bug, as I can't figure out what made it happen.

Since this trip I have taken the unit on various day trips around the state, as well as a trip to Michigan. It continued to fail to notify me verbally when approaching an Interstate intersection (I almost took the wrong direction by taking I75 rather than take the correct path of I675).

I am also not happy with having to manually close a screen that popped up notifying me of a traffic delay. I should either be able to close it with a voice command, or it should close automatically after a set time period.

Pros:

The screen is in higher-res than the 755T, which means it has more detail and looks better.

It is MUCH faster to program than the 755T

The voice is louder, but is somewhat distorted at 100%, which means the speaker needs to be bigger.

The picture is brighter, although polarized glasses still defeat it.

The suction cup mount that comes with it works well as long as I wet the cup prior to mounting it on the windshield. If not, it falls off almost immediately.

The magnetic mount also works really well, even refusing to attach the GPS if it is upside down.

I was hoping Garmin's brand-new `flagship' model would be worthy of 5-stars. After using it for two weeks, I questioned whether it was worth 4-stars. After writing this review and noting both its pros and cons as well as the flagship cost, it is sadly worth only 3-stars in its present form. Garmin: fix its problems and I will up my rating.

In summary, the hardware appears to be working well, but the software is sadly lacking.

August 9, 2013 update:

I have returned from a trip to NJ (919-miles round trip) after updating the GPS' firmware.

A new problem that has cropped up is that at random times (not often), it will tell me to take the next exit, even though my real exit is far ahead. I was on I80 in NJ and the unit showed that my next exit was 9-miles ahead, which was correct. But as I was approaching an exit I was not to take, it told me to take it. Checking the screen showed that the voice was incorrect, but it should not have happened.

November, 2013 Update:

Since August, we have taken three more trips using the GPS, one of 1200-miles to eastern Pa, and the second of 900-miles, also to eastern Pa, and one of 800-miles to WV. I updated the firmware (V3.03.04, software: V3.8) prior to the first trip , so it is current. In both cases, we are still having the same problems as noted above, especially the following:

1. It looks at some sharp (>90-degrees) turns in the road as being a route change and announces it, which can be confusing if there is an intersection nearby.
2. When on an Interstate where two of them are running together (e.g. I77 and I64) we are and coming to a point where one Interstate branches off, the GPS fails to notify me as to which branch to take, except to say, "continue straight"), which is extremely confusing. I should tell me, "Go left on I77".
3. It still refuses to take the most direct route, instead taking what it feels is the shortest-in-miles route, which may take longer due to local road conditions and speed limits (e.g. taking back roads rather than the Interstate).
4. When I decide to take another route rather than the one suggested, it still refuses to recalculate. Instead, it keeps saying to make a U-turn. I have to go a mile or more before it will take the hint and recalculate.
5. Traffic reporting is still sub-standard.

My driving season is over and I won't be using it again till January, unless it is needed for work. I will continue to update this review as I gain more data. My 3-star review is accurate as the 3597 is still less capable than my old, 755T.

Copy emailed to Garmin.
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47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great GPS - traffic-specific thoughts, May 26, 2013
By 
M. Overley (Lansing, MI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
In a nutshell, this is the most impressive PND that Garmin has crafted. I won't review the entire unit, as there are many good, thorough reviews posted here on Amazon. That said, I wanted to share my experience with the traffic feature, as it is a subject of much discussion and I have owned the unit for about one month now.

My job is travel-based, and I drive about 18 - 20,000 miles a year for work purposes. I have owned four Garmin GPSs - StreetPilot c550, nuvi 760, nuvi 3790, and now the nuvi 3597. In addition, I've been able to play with other Garmin nuvi models that were purchased for other family members, so I'm fairly familiar with the PND evolution, at least as far as Garmin is concerned. Having most recently owned the nuvi 3790 which had the "basic" traffic functon, I was looking forward to upgrading to HD traffic along with the ability to connect the nuvi to my iPhone 4S using the SmartLink app.

I live in Michigan, and there are generally only two areas where traffic coverage is provided via radio waves - metro Detroit area/southeast Michigan and metro Grand Rapids area/west Michigan. I travel through the Grand Rapids area on a regular basis and have been able to acquire an HD signal each time I pass through (you can identify that you are receiving the HD signal by pressing the menu button in the lower right hand corner of the screen and looking for the HD symbol inside the traffic icon).

When the signal is received, the information that is provided is much more detailed than the standard traffic information. This includes info such as a lane closure, a disabled vehicle, construction, or moderate/heavy congestion. The GPS will automatically add minutes to the expected arrival time to account for these issues accordingly. The extra information can be very useful. Obviously though, this all depends on receiving a traffic signal, which may vary by time of day or day of the week. Some traffic warning information is announced by the GPS, while a small window will also slide out from the right-hand side of the screen displaying additional details about the upcoming incident, including distance to the incident and alternate route availability, if any.

As I do not live in an area that is covered by the HD radio traffic network, I opted to purchase the LiveTraffic service through the SmartLink app for my iPhone 4S. From what I have read, the difference between the HD traffic and the LiveTraffic is the maximum frequency in which updates can occur (HD - 30 seconds, Live - 2 minutes) . The LiveTraffic coverage area is much more extensive than the HD coverage area, so I can now get relevant traffic information on my 15 minute commute home.

The down side to purchasing the LiveTraffic service is that it always takes priority over the HD traffic system, even when an HD signal is being received. One of the selling points of the nuvi 3597 is the GTM60 HD traffic receiver. But if you are using the SmartLink app, HD traffic notifications will be disabled and the additional cost of the receiver (that is included in the $340 unit price) is wasted. Of course the SmartLink app can be disabled in areas where the HD signal is received, but in doing so you'll also give up the Advanced Weather notification feature and Live Cams (if purchased; these are separate in-app purchases from LiveTraffic) as well as some other cool search and send features of the SmartLink app. So at this time, at least as far as I can tell, it is an "either/or" proposition as far as the traffic services are concerned. Hopefully, a "smart toggle" ability can be added in a future firmware update so that drivers can take advantage of the higher frequency notifications of the HD traffic system while still using the SmartLink app for other useful travel information.

I haven't taken the GPS out of Michigan yet, so I can't speak for other areas of the country as far as the HD traffic signal is concerned. But when receiving the HD signal (or using LiveTraffic), I have been impressed by the detail in the traffic messages. Either service is a definite upgrade from past traffic services, in my opinion.

As I experiment more, I will add to my post. Just wanted to share my experiences and thoughts so far.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wow - It's a bust, May 28, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I had the nuvi 3590 and gave it to a friend. It's super -in my opinion, it's the best ever.

The nuvi 3597 is a real disappointment. I expected it to be as good as the nuvi 3590 plus a better display and a smartphone connection. It has a better display and a smartphone connection.

But buy the 3590. The nuvi 3597 voice recognition is not as good -ok it's bad. And if you're travelling across state lines, skip using voice command for "find place" in another state because Garmin made it nearly impossible (ok it's impossible). And it's so hard to for the 3597 to hear correctly. I have turned off the AC, rolled up windows, leaned closer, enunciated clearly, enunciated slowly, fast, soft, loud, screaming... you get the picture. It does some hysterical things with sounds. When you ask for something how does it manage to be that creative with answers? Where the heck does it roll out all that crap from? ...big database I guess. Try finding "Asheville". It's a riot. Try Biltmore -equal riot. Try grocery. try..., etc.

The smartphone weather is novel. The traffic mediocre. I have the Inrix (free) traffic app on my phone. Inrix is right all the time. The Garmin traffic app is right probably 65% of the time. The rest of the time it's looking for data that never arrives.

I liked setting up a dashboard. Unfortunately, Garmin realized it knew what I needed better than I. Dashboard gone.

I liked specifying which tools appear on my screen, now Garmin decided I have to touch a quarter inch square area while driving and invoke a pop out that blocks fully half the view to use tools -no voice activation available (and if you miss the quarter inch square area with your finger, you'll have a grand old time getting back to navigating while desperately trying to avoid driving like a drunk).

I liked reading "arrive at ... on left" or "on right"; but Garmin knew that was unnecessary. I just turn on the sound at the LAST RECKLESS MINUTE before my destination goes by like a freight train -when I recall - oh yeah Garmin wants me to LISTEN to that little tidbit.

I REALLY liked having the phone number shown when I found a destination (like a motel). Now Garmin decided I don't need that unless I want to talk through the nuvi when on the phone -and then it will call for me. Great. Talking on a Garmin is like talking with a tin can over strings.

If you never had a 3590 you'll probably be happy. But I have, and If I can return the 3597 and get a 3590 I will.
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46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great GPS but wait several months before purchasing, May 10, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
UPDATE 5/21/2012 at Bottom
--------------------------
I am a long time user of Garmin GPS units and have owned several since some of their first ones came out years ago. Some of the mapping models I've owned (and still own) are the GPSV, 60Csx, 62s. The 60Csx and the 62s use the same North America NT maps as the 3597 does so I have lots of experience using them along with the Base Camp software. With that information said I think this is a GREAT GPS unit however as my title says... wait several months before making this your next GPS purchase. There are still several (what I would consider) big bugs with this new interface that need to be corrected before this unit becomes fully functional.

While this is my first dedicated on-road Garmin GPS the others I have I've used very successfully for navigation and only purchased this one since I finally needed something with a larger screen. (Age and finally needing glasses caught up with me.) I love the larger screen which is very easy to see even in the bright sunlight of my dashboard. Also the magnetic mount is worth it's weight in gold. I simply pull it out of the case I have and "toss" it up onto the mount. No trying to fiddle with aligning it properly, no clips to have to snap it into, etc. Absolutely love the mount. The voice is also very clear and understandable and is plenty loud when attached to the car mount. In fact I only have the volume turned up slightly above 1/2 for it to be heard clearly and cleanly. The 3597 also has many of the same functions as my handheld mapping units have with things like trip meters with ETA, time moving, elevation, etc.. which is great for a tech person like me that wants to know more data than just how to get from point A to B. I've been playing with this unit for about a week now during my 30 mile commute to and from work and other errands throughout the week. I'm very impressed at how fast the screen redraws and how fast the route recalculation is. The lane assist feature is also nice however I haven't used it on a long enough trip yet to find out just how useful it will be. I sometimes pull a travel trailer so I'm hoping that this will help me a bit more to plan my exit and lane changes earlier than just coming up on a sign in traffic an having to miss the exit since it wasn't safe enough to make a lane change. There are just too many good things to say about this unit. My father has the 2012 equivalent version of the 3597 and I have to say that there is an improvement over last years model. If nothing else the magnetic mount is a must have in my opinion as I mentioned.

So yes there are some negatives that I've found more in terms of bug(s) in the newly designed interface. I've already reported these to Garmin so hopefully a fix will be in the works very soon because the bug(s) I found render some features useless in my opinion. The biggest bug is the "UP AHEAD" feature. With the new interface you have the fly out on the right hand side that will show you what's up ahead in terms of fuel, food, restrooms etc. You can display 3 at a time and it's customizable as to which three to display. It also shows you the road, how many miles until the next POI in the category and also an error showing which side of your route the POI is on. Problem is, this is where the bug shows up. My commute features some long roads with nothing on them for miles then a gas station will pop up. The GPS will show on the map view that the gas station is on the left which is fine and dandy but when I click the icon on fly out to see the list of stations coming up it says the next one is actually on the right. Returning back to the map view again shows the station to be on the left. This happened several times with food places as well. (The station is actually on the right so list view was correct vs map view.) It was only when I got within .8 miles of the POI that the map view arrow flipped suddenly to the correct side of the road. Hmm... that could get interesting when pulling my trailer especially with some of the roads out here where the frontage roads along the highway are one way. You really want to get off and on, on the same side of the highway and not cross over otherwise you can find yourself backtracking several miles to get heading back in the same direction as you were going in the first place. One additional bug I found was when viewing food places up ahead. The fly out icon said food was 5 miles ahead. When I clicked on the icon it gave me a list as expected as to what what ahead. Great! so I switched back to map view and went about .5 mile further and pressed the button again. HUH?? A different list of what was ahead showed up as an extra entry appeared. I also noted that one of the same places was on the list as before (as it should have been) but it was now saying that place was on the other side of the road. HUH? Not possible on this long and very straight road for it to move like that :) .. So clicking on map view again and then on the food list the additional entry went away and that restaurant that flipped to the other side of the road was back where it belonged. Hmm.. ok.

So here's where my experience with my previous Garmin units and my use of Base Camp comes into play. So on the display of the 3597 the locations that seemed to switch back and forth to different sides of the route depending on what view I was using (map vs list) I reviewed in Base Camp and they all show in their actual correct positions. Basically the map data is correct. I'm running the 2013.4 on all my devices and it Base Camp. The blue "flags" showing the food location on the 3597 map view also appeared in the correct locations. Who knows why the display showed otherwise though. The gas station though did not have one of the blue "flags" though despite it being on the list and the option to show everything was turned on. Other stations showed up but not this one. Bottom line I think the new interface that was designed for the 3597 is having some issues reading the POI databases and accurately displaying them. Maybe it's an indexing problem in the database or something. Dunno. As I mentioned I did report this to Garmin.

Yes I gave the unit a 4 star review despite having the big bug as described above. I did so because I have a long time history with Garmin and their products and they've always fixed things like this pretty quickly. The unit is a great unit and I'm glad I made the upgrade. Having it integrate with Base Camp is a big plus as well because I can keep all my custom POI's synched between all my devices. One thing that I like on this unit as well is the Smartphone link. At first I didn't think it would be useful however being able to link with my smartphone has been great. I've been using Zillow to search for a new place to live. With smartphone link I can click on a place in Zillow and send that information to the Garmin in a couple of easy clicks so I can navigate right to them. Yes I could use Google Maps but it's really hard to see on my phone despite having a larger screen phone. I also have the GPS paired for hands free calling and the couple times I've used it have been great. I can keep my phone in my pocket as well.

----------------------
Update 5/21/2013
I received a direct personal response back from Garmin today. (Some some computer generated form email) Always get great customer service from them. Anyway they took my detailed information and spoke with the engineers who acknowledged the potential problem. Hopefully it will be fixed in the next firmware update (which is possibly due out this week) or the one after that. I still give it 4 out of 5 stars though since there are "wish list" items that I would still like to see on this unit. I've used this daily since my initial review and I'm very happy with my purchase. I love the free features of the SmartPhone link as well since there are some custom POI's that I have created in Google Maps that I simply have clicked the point on my phone and instantly sent it to my Garmin to navigate to it. The traffic feature is nice as well and shows traffic whether or not you are navigating a route. Something Google Maps does not. :)
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another buggy Garmin, May 31, 2013
By 
Jim (Mooresville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps and HD Traffic (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
This is a nice, capable GPS with a beautiful display and intuitive interface. However, I own seven Garmin products including aviation, trail, running and automotive units and after driving 3,000 miles in the past week with my new nuvi 3597, it appears to follow an unfortunately predictable pattern of Garmin's the past few years -- rushing great products to market before they are thoroughly tested and debugged. The unit I have shuts itself off after I touch the "Speed" panel on the main display. In addition, it will not accept a full battery charge. The screen frequently "locks" and will not respond to any touch input until the unit is powered off and restarted (sometimes it requires several restarts). Of course Garmin tech support always responds with helpful gems like "ensure the cable is fully plugged in" (Really? I hadn't even considered that!) It is a nice unit. But you can save yourself aggravation by buying a more mature model or waiting until Garmin updates the firmware a couple of times on this one.
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