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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of cool features, mediocre design and navigation
upd Mar 2011: Firmware update v2.6 released in Feb resolved issues with map scrolling and slow route calculation (so Garmin does listen to the customers). These improvements and the new price range makes it a much more reasonable purchase. Routing and estimated arrival time still remains an issue.
Most likely, Garmin silently disabled TrafficTrends feature with...
Published on November 9, 2010 by HK

versus
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not even meh...
I'm quite dissapointed in this unit, as I expected more. First, I really don't care for the ads that pop up when stopped. I certainly didn't intend to buy an advertising kiosk for my dashboard.

Second, I am not fascinated with the routing and traffic functions. Many GPS's learn your route and estimate traffic on that route. This unit also will not route to the...
Published on October 29, 2010 by Mike Stepchinski


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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of cool features, mediocre design and navigation, November 9, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
upd Mar 2011: Firmware update v2.6 released in Feb resolved issues with map scrolling and slow route calculation (so Garmin does listen to the customers). These improvements and the new price range makes it a much more reasonable purchase. Routing and estimated arrival time still remains an issue.
Most likely, Garmin silently disabled TrafficTrends feature with firmware update with firmware update in Feb. Traffic trends don't make any difference to routing, estimated arrival time or calculation time. This has been confirmed on GPS forums by some owners of 1695 and 3790. Garmin customer service rep did not think this is the case and I haven't pressed the issue further.
I lost the unit in March so this review might not reflect the most recent changes, let me know if this is the case.
The review below is as of Oct 2010 with minor edits as of March.
******
Bright side:

- Surprisingly stable for a device that have been released only recently. No major functional problems like freezing or lost satellites.
- NuLink traffic allows immediate traffic acquisition in most cases. Traffic data in reasonable. Coverage is decent. Garmin gets NuLink signal even in areas where my cellphone does not work.
- Lane assist works very well. There are occasionally junction views for those who think they are helpful.
- Google local POI search is sometimes helpful although I tend to use Garmin's categorized POI more often. Both Google search and Garmin's POI are much easier to use than POI search on TomTom.
- I really like local event search (sports, music, arts, etc). Flight status, gas prices and movie times, weather (including weather radar) are also interesting features. Not that I really use them, but they are nice.
- Safety camera information is available and you can report cameras on-the-fly by clicking on speed limit indicator. Reported cameras should become available to other users within minutes. However, according to Garmin customer service, you need to download safety camera updates manually from the website ( I checked twice). Their website suggests that camera updates should come from NuLink, so may be it was not done yet.

- The screen is big and bright, the voices are loud (I have volume and brightness set at 10%). Icons and menu items in many cases look better.
- There are map themes available. You can select one of the pre-defined themes, or you can copy and edit theme .xml files to create your own (you will need a couple of hours of time and at least mspaint to work with hexadecimal colors).
- Pedestrian mode is looks beautiful, was much easier to use on older units.
- Also route planner is very well done and you can drag-and-drop destinations to rearrange your route.

******
Serious issues:
(note: I'm not familiar with 1xxx and 37xx series, so some of the things I'm complaining about can be common to these units. All comparison is again 2xx/7xx or TomTom 930 or 140)

- Traffic trends (historical travel speeds), advertised to provide better routes and estimated time of arrival, do not quite work (yet).
My driving experience so far:
In New Hampshire, Vermont, Western Maryland and Western Pennsylvania I don't see any significant difference compared to 255W. TomTom has slightly better ETA on mountain roads where it might be tough to drive at 55 mph.
In Florida (Orlando, Miami ) traffic trends worked surprisingly well. Have seen some meaningful detours and quite accurate ETAs on busy streets. Can see an improvement compared to non-traffic trend models.

On NYC streets a route estimated to take 25 minutes normally takes 35-40+ , mostly due to failure to account for traffic lights. As a result, the routes are often not optimal and in some cases worse than the routes with traffic trends disabled. If it's solely due to lack of historical traffic data, we might see an improvement as new map updates are released.
UPD: As I mentioned above, the feature seems to be disabled in firmware 2.6 and everything defaults to standard Garmin routing, which is not necessarily a bad think unless you're on busy streets. In NYC 60 minute actual travel time on estimated 25 is not uncommon, even without traffic jams. On highways the unit gives amazingly accurate arrival time.

- Performance issues. Very long calculation times (UPD this is a non-issue since traffic trends are disabled. Without traffic trends route calculation is relatively fast. The times below are for firmware 2.4 where the TT was turned still enabled)
200-mile NYC to Boston used to take 2.5 minutes on my first device. I exchanged the unit and it normally takes about 50 seconds on the new one. It gets longer if you're driving or if traffic information is available (not yet sure what matters more). Last weekend it took it 2 minutes to recalculate a 30-mile route after I missed a turn. By that time I was 2 miles away, so it decided to recalculate again and took another 2 minutes. The problem is even more acute on city streets.
In part, longer calculation times are due to the overhead created by TrafficTrends. Garmin recognizes the problem in 37xx and 2xxx series (but not in 1695) and advises to turn off traffic trends. They advertise a feature, charge a hefty amount of cash for it and then advise to turn it off - this seems like a very weird marketing strategy to me.
Switching between different map displays can also take a while (up to 10 seconds). I understand that it might be difficult to squeeze high-performance hardware into some compact-size unit, but 1695 is relatively big and heavy, so it's not clear why it doesn't match performance of smaller gps units.

Again, TomTom used to have similar problems with slow route calculation when they introduced IQRoutes a couple of years ago. They were later resolved by firmware updates.
Another note is that when the unit is used in the area where road network is not very dense, slow route calculation is no longer a problem. However in those areas, you don't really need 1695 and can get the same performance from a much simpler unit.

- Avoidances.
(upd: Feb 2011. This feature was announced to show up in Garmin 24xx serites. Most likely 1695 will not be retro-fitted)
It's not a surprise, but it's still not possible to avoid specific part of route. Something that was(!) available on older Nuvis and is available on every TomTom (starting $70). For example, I have a toll tunnel nearby that costs $5 and takes about 3 minutes to avoid. It takes a couple of clicks on TomTom, but becomes a difficult task on Garmin. There are standard workarounds, like avoiding all toll roads or adding a dummy via point to force Garmin to route through a different road. If necessary, I can go into details and give examples why this is not always an option. Again, given the price tag, one might hope to be spared the necessity of creating dummy via points and have basic functionality available.

- Map scrolling (Resolved in Feb. Thanks, Garmin!)
Without exaggeration, scrolling a map in 2D mode is by far the worst touch screen experience I ever had in my life. They tried to introduce some iPhone-like "inertia" in map movement while scrolling and failed miserably. I often use "browse map" mode to select a point on map as a destination. On this unit it becomes a very painful exercise. The map would occasionally overshoot, jump in the opposite direction or, occasionally, select a new destination when you simply tried to browse the map.
This only concerns map scrolling. In all other modes the touchscreen works like magic.
Screen calibration helps a little bit, but touch screen behaviour is irritating to the extreme (press and hold in upper-left corner of the screen when switching the unit on, keep holding for ~20-30sec, the calibration screen will show up). Before buying this thing, go to a local store, try to browse the map and decide if you can commit not to smash the unit against the wall one day after trying to select a point on map.
upd: after a month of suffering I figured that touchscreen is a bit more predictable if I scroll with the back of my nail with minimal pressure (although at $400 per unit it is kind of weird and there is a risk to scratch the screen)

- Ergonomics
For quite some time now I've seen TomTom doing much better job at routing but nevertheless preferred Garmin because of amazing ergonomics, beautiful map display and ease of use. With this unit (and I understand this is also related to other new models) most of it is gone. I'll give more examples below not to overload with details here.

*****
To buy or not to buy:

- Cost
If you decide to own this unit, here is a simple cost breakdown:

>=$80 to purchase lifetime map updates. TrafficTrends are only updated with map updates, so you'll have to buy it if you want a hope that TrafficTrends will have a decent performance. TomTom similarly requires map updates to update IQRoutes data, but the big difference is that their IQRoutes data is mature and does not require much updating, while Garmin's TrafficTrends are in their infancy.

$50 per year to keep NuLink traffic subscription. Over 3 weeks that I own this unit I've never seen a real traffic jam on the road that would be reflected in NuLink trafic but would not show up through ClearChannel FM traffic subscription on my older Nuvi. NuLink reports more traffic events, but many of them don't seem to be real. I appreciate the potential of connected traffic, but don't see a clear benefit yet.

$2.99/months (~$40 per year) to keep safety camera subscription. The design of their traffic cameras is cool, no argument here, but I'm not sure it's worth it. If I'm not mistaken, TomTom updates traffic cameras for free. I also have lifetime PhantomAlers subscription that works for multiple devices and provides additional info like known historical cop car locations. From what I've seen so far Garmin's data is no better than Phantom.

+ you need $25/year to maintain advanced weather subscription (weather radar).

So if you want to use this device to the full potential, the total price will be well above $420 posted on Amazon.

- Competitors
Connected features: many of the NuLink features might already be available on your smartphone, sometimes for free.
Navigation: In New York City and other densely populated areas TomTom (even the cheapest) beats any Garmin by a wide margin. On highways or in rural areas with few congestions or traffic lights older Garmin units perform flawlessly (on par or better than TomTom) and 1695 brings little or no additional benefit.
Ease of use: with the introduction of new cumbersome menus I would say that 1695 is on par with TomTom and much worse than 2xx or 7xx series. One area where this unit still beats TomTom is POI search, especially for parks and landmarks.

- Summary
I am a text book example of a brand loyal customer. I'm using some brands for more than a decade now without even considering competitors. With 1695 Garmin is seriously testing the limits of my loyalty. I decided not to return it back to the seller, but it is very likely to be my last Garmin unit if performance, routing and usability issues are not resolved.
So far, I view 1695 as an expensive toy and a cool gadget, but not a top-notch navigation device. It has a potential, which is yet to be or not to be realized.
UPD: TomTom's higher-end LIVE model (2535 LIVE) is not yet released in the US. This pretty much leaves 1695 the only new connected device.

***************************
Additional stuff (and it's also long....)

I will list here some issues that I consider to be non-critical design flaws. You can judge whether these are likely to cause you any trouble.

- This is a very minor issue, but a clear-cut design problem. Speed limit indicator turns red if you exceed posted speed limit. As a result at night you will get red numbers on grey background. Right next to it there will be a high-contrast black-on-white speed limit icon. At night, low-contrast red-on-grey is difficult to see next to high-contrast black-on-white and you have to spend an extra split second figuring out what the speed is. Visual alerts are supposed to help, not to distract. I asked Garmin CS to escalate this to the developers, but have some doubts that his will happen.
Second, here is no threshold, it becomes red once you are above the limit. Something should turn red only if some action is required. When driving in a 65mph zone you don't care if your speed is 65 or66, but you do care if you're driving at 76 as you might get a ticket. It should be customizable and there should be an option to turn it off (it is on TomTom).

- Map display. Older Nuvis clearly label nearby highways on a map. so that when you drive you always know what are the nearby roads. On 1695 it is possible to have a screen where no single highway is annotated. You can find my sample screenshots on gps forum. 255W could be used almost as a road atlas. 1695 is much less informative (even with Map Detail -> More). Occasionally 1695 might be better at showing upcoming streets but is much worse at giving a big pictiure.

- Menus
On older units it would take you 7 clicks to select a hotel near your route, on 1695 it takes 11. It used to take 5 clicks to get to "avoidances" menu, now it takes at least 7. When a list is presented (say, a list of avoidances) older units used to have 4 items per page, 1695 has 3 despite the bigger screen.This means more scrolling. If you have to do it while driving, all those extra clicks do matter. If you ever were amazed how many clicks it takes to do simple stuff on TomTom, be prepared to face the same on Garmin.
Up/Down buttons used to be big and easy to hit when you drive. Now those are small but stylish buttons on the left of the screen that you have to aim at. Simple "near" button at the bottom of the screen is now hidden and you have to click small "triple dash" button first.
UPD: some menu items were re-arranged in the new firmware which makes it a bit easier to use. Thanks again to Garmin.

Selecting a different state is as painful as it used to be on all Nuvis with the additional complication that you can't see the list of recently entered states and have to start typing the name and the unit will try to guess what you're looking for. You will not get a short list of "new york, new jersey, new mexico" until you actually type "new". This is really minor, but annoying since it happens over and over again. There used to be a drop-down list with recent values on older units.

- Night map
Looks really ugly if there are many roads around. Looks much better if local streets are made thinner (editable through xml maptheme files). Overall, night maps look like they are printed on an ancient VGA screen back in the eighties.

- handling traffic
Traffic handling still seems to have some problems. If the unit routes you around a traffic jam, but if the delay later disappears, it does not return you back on the original route, which is again the fastest (something that TomTom does). I've seen it only with the initial software version, so not sure if the problem still exists.

- adds
Overall, not too annoying and they are the least important factor I would consider when buying 1695. Still, would prefer an option to opt-out for some additional fee.

- map data
TomTom allows you to make edits to your maps (edit turns, block roads or edit speed limits). User edits are aggregated by TomTom and reflected in new map editions. To report map error to Garmin you have to spend 20 minutes of your time filling a cumbersome form on a website and then wait for a year for the update to come through. Just to give an example, Lincoln tunnel is driven by 100,000 people every day and still Garmin doesn't know how to route you there. It will try to enter from 39th street in Manhattan that has been closed for the last two years at least. Garmin introduced on-the-fly reporting for safety cameras (because they can charged for this) but didn't bother to do anything about maps.

- Junction views - initially I tried to disable it, but they appeared to be reasonably well done and don't annoy too much. I don't think they are even a little bit useful, but Garmin removes junction view popup fast enough so that it does not cause major problems.

- Customer service
The first CS rep I spoke with was unprofessional beyond repair and ended up saying things like "avoid traffic means avoiding routes that are historically known to have traffic" or "traffic trends information is updated on your device through satellite signal". The second rep did not have some answers available but was willing to find things out and proved to be helpful. So be prepared that CS stuff does not necessarily know answers to your questions and don't always trust what they are telling you. You might decide to call again if you feel you don't trust the information you're getting.

Hope it helps.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not even meh..., October 29, 2010
By 
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
I'm quite dissapointed in this unit, as I expected more. First, I really don't care for the ads that pop up when stopped. I certainly didn't intend to buy an advertising kiosk for my dashboard.

Second, I am not fascinated with the routing and traffic functions. Many GPS's learn your route and estimate traffic on that route. This unit also will not route to the roads I take to work, even though it shows a shorter commute time once I turn to take the back way to work. My known route saves on average about 15 minutes, and the GPS tries to route me through a congested area each morning.

My unit also takes quite some time to recalculate a route when downtown - can get frustrating sometimes.

Another irritating issue is the inability to independently adjust volumes for bluetooth connected phones and alerts. The phone is way too quiet when alerts sound ok, and alerts blare when the phone sounds ok.

For the amount of money this unit costs, paired with the ads that pop up, I am inclined to return it for a refund. Better luck next time Garmin..
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much superior to the older 1690, April 16, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
I got this 1695 a couple of months ago, and I've found it vastly improved (but not yet perfect) over the 1690. I am very glad I upgraded.
To understand my reasons, I should first begin by saying that I'm an avid GPS user. Each of my two boats have GPS, I've taken piloting (i.e., inshore navigation) and offshore (i.e., celestial, as with a sextant) navigation courses, and even when driving on a vacation trip, I like to know exactly my position just for fun.
Garmin's old StreetPilots (I had them, too) used to allow a display of latitude and longitude on the map screen. When I upgraded to the NUVI's (1490 and 1690) this was no longer the case -- first of several big disappointments (and not fixed with the 1695) wtih the first NUVI, only some of which are corrected in the 1695.
I also missed the StreetPilots' display of the name of the upcoming street on top of the map screen (yes, you can see them on the map itself, but it's written too small to be useful). But happily this has been corrected in the 1695, which I discovered to again display each cross street's name as I approach.
Another big gripe with the first NUVI's is that, while I could measure distances to the nearest hundredths of a mile with the StreetPilots, I couldn't measure distances in the 1490 and 1690 to less than the nearest mile (rounded); happily, the 1695 lets me measure distances to the nearest tenth of a mile, and even better, the 1695 offers not one but two trip odometers, so I can keep an overall log of a trip as well as measure smaller portions of a trip (e.g., miles on a tank of gas, or the distance to a landmark or waypoint).
I do definitely prefer the NuLink airwaves link (of the 1690 and 1695) over the other services (of the 1490) -- the necessarily thicker and stiffer power cord of the 1490 (incorporating its antenna) is a pain to position on the dash (not a problem with the slenderer cord of the 1690 and 1695). And while I like the NuLink's traffic and 'safety camera' warnings and weather reports of the 1690, I also like the enhanced weather reporting (actual weather maps!) available on the 1695 -- their costs are a real bargain if you're a serious traveler/vacationer-by-car as I am (pulling a camper).
One final comment: I like some, and dislike other, aspects of the 1695's routing function compared to the 1690 and 1490. LIKE: compared to all previous NUVI's, the 1695 uniquely allows me to choose a route to a destination offering the alternatives of shorter travel time, or shorter distance, or better fuel economy (I guess, mainly lower speeds), which I think is terrific. DISLIKE: However, because I use Garmin's MapSource software on my computer to save a permanent record (and a backup from my GPS in case it's stolen) of my waypoints, tracks and routes, while the 1490 and 1690 let me save my routes in MapSource, the 1695 doesn't. MapSource doesn't recognize the 1695's version of saved routes, and related to this, I can't plan my route ahead of time on the computer and upload it to the GPS -- apparently, the flexibility of the 1695's routing (with the several options just noted before) is not compatible with the old MapSource application. Thankfully, I can still save my 1695's waypoints to the MapSource, and I could still transfer them from the 1490 to the 1690 and to the 1695, allowing me to upgrade to the several NUVI's without tediously reentering my hundreds of waypoints manually.
Nevertheless, I am happy I upgraded to the 1695.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No better choice for a connected satnav, December 5, 2010
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
Rather than waste much space on discussing all the features of the 1695, many of which are common to the rest of the Garmin 1xxx models, I'll instead talk about those that make it unique. Garmin's nuLink 1695 is a cellular-connected pnd using AT&T's network, the same general technology behind TomTom's 740 and 340 Live models, and direct competition for them. But unlike TomTom's quite slow and basic GPRS connection that also depends on AT&T's network, Garmin's 1695 uses the much faster EDGE technology, effectively tripling the gross data throughput that Tomtom's Live pnd's can accomplish. What this gives you is faster Google searches, quicker traffic updates, and more bandwidth allowing for double the services. Where TomTom includes a very few connected services, just real-time traffic, Google Local Search, basic weather, Buddies, Gas Prices (US and not Europe anymore)and optional add-on subscription Traffic Cameras, Garmin doubles that and more. Standard nuLink services include the same real-time traffic, Google Local Search, weather, Ciao (Buddies), Gas Prices. . . plus White Page lookups by name or phone number, Movie Times and locations, current Flight Time arrival and departures, Local Events for upcoming concerts, art, sports, and special community activities, SendToGPS using Google Maps or Microsoft Live, plus optional enhanced Weather Radar maps with Severe Weather warnings, and Safety Camera (redlight) Alerts via the nuLink Store. One year of the standard connected services is included with the device, $5 per month thereafter. Compare to Tomtom at $10 per month, with just three months free intro period.

Traffic is particularly well-done on the 1695. One of the big complaints I had with my Tomtom 740 was it's failure to show current traffic conditions if they weren't worse than what might be expected for that time of the day (using IQR). Well how does that help me understand whether there's severe congestion at the 95/295 junction right now if there's always traffic problems there? I avoid bumper cars unless there's no other reasonable way to get where I'm going. But TomTom won't show me. The 1695 does. And even better, if a covered road is flowing more smoothly than expected you can see that too, another place TomTom falls down. Another 740 complaint is there's often no way to tell where a reported traffic issue is from the traffic detail. Much of the time there's nothing on the traffic detail page other than a too-far zoomed in view with an arrow, road name and delay time. But who knows where on the map that road segment is? Is that near Tampa? Wait, maybe closer to Plant City? Dang, it could even be Orlando. But the Garmin 1695 not only shows surrounding roads, it even tells you what city you're looking at with a green dot and city name on the detail page. And you're warned of upcoming traffic problems even if you haven't set a destination, both audibly and with an on-screen icon. Another Garmin advantage lacking with TomTom's Live traffic. And another nice GArmin touch. You want to see what traffic is like in some other region, perhaps your flight destination? Garmin's 1695 can show you that too, but another Tomtom feature miss.

Google Local Search is so well integrated on the 1695 it makes the Tomtom feature look like an afterthought. When you enter a Google Search term, the results are presented on a two-tabbed screen. At the top are the Garmin POI results, and tapping the bottom tab gives you the Google finds. And those POI's are star-rated, with addresses, distance and compass direction from your current location. Select one, tap the on-screen icon, and you get the expected travel time and contact details. No need to request a route to find out how far away it is in real-time. And you can submit your own rating for those Points of Interest to assist others looking for a good place to eat or shop. If searching Garmin's own built-in POI's, you have a way of narrowing down the results. Looking for an Electronic's store? There's a category for that. Fancy some Italian food. Yup, a category for that too. Again things that no Tomtom has.

A few of my other favored features include White Pages lookups for finding directions with just a phone number, Map themes for changing map colors and Prompted Navigation. This last feature is new to Garmin. You now have the option of computing and displaying three different route choices on the map along with travel times with one simple request, toggling between Fastest, Shortest and Less Fuel. No need to go back and try each routing method separately, canceling one to enter another, a time-consuming process on a Tomtom.

If I have a significant complaint, it's the map scrolling. It's hard for me to scroll to a specific point, with the screen seemingly having a mind of its own. Very poorly done IMO, and apparently an issue common to all the 1xxx models. It doesn't have any effect on the navigation screen at all. It's just as fluid and smooth as any other satnav, better than many. But if you want to manually drag the map around to see what may be nearly, it's a pain in the butt. It tries unsuccessfully to mimic screen scrolling on a smartphone where you can flip your fingertip to quickly move to another screen or area of the page. I'm really hoping I eventually learn the tricks to better controlling Garmin's 1xxx method. Fortunately it's not something I commonly need to do.

Connections to Garmin's servers for "Live" services has been amazingly dependable. Coming from Tomtom's 740 and it's fairly frequent failures to connect in a timely manner, I expected an occasional outage. After all, they both rely on AT&T's network for delivery. But Garmin's service has been rock-solid so far, much better and more reliable than my TomTom ever was.

But there's something I want to make clear: This is not the ideal choice for most buyers. No currently available Live/connected pnd is in my opinion. There's Garmin models that are faster to compute a route, or cheaper to purchase; with more added value like lifetime maps, or sporting faster processors and more hi-resolution displays. Where Garmin's 1695 shines is as a one-device solution for serious travelers who desire more than the typical A-B routing. The value to a casual or occasional user just isn't there in my opinion. If that's you, my advice is look elsewhere in the Garmin line.

But if you've already decided that premium real-time traffic reporting, Google Local Search or up-to-date gas prices is the way to go, then the Garmin 1695 is the best solution in North America and should be your first choice for a standalone gps navigator. No question in my mind. It includes more services at a lower on-going cost than anything TomTom or other competitors have to offer and with more intelligent thought from Garmin engineers on how those connected services should work in tandem with navigation. While there's still improvements to be made, particularly to the new myTrends and predictive trafficTrends historical data (and likely to come with future application updates), if you've decided that a connected pnd is what you want then the nuLink 1695 is at the top of the class. TomTom's 740 or 340 Live aren't close. TomTom builds a good device, and they do offer a lot of user customization. Their predictive IQR trip data is also more complete than Garmin's so far. But for overall features, the way they're presented and used, and ongoing cost to you the buyer, Garmin's 1695 is the smart choice.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No longer recommended, December 31, 2011
By 
JGinLA (LA [lower Alabama]) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
After 14+ months with the 1695, this is what I can tell you. I give it five stars for the weather radar and warnings. The warnings don't specify a county like the 680 did but the radar will show you the problem areas and your location on the radar map.
The nuLink! (AT&T) connection is much more useful in my rural area than the HD radio system used on newer Garmins. I can Google search for all kinds of info miles and miles before I pick up an HD radio signal. Garmin seems to think we are all in a city with HD radio and need to get across town. My travels are often city to city for hours at a time. I get info early and have the option to route around certain cities while I'm still 100 miles away. Driving on rural interstates where traffic was at a standstill due to a wreck or crawling over a two-mile stretch of frozen bridge, the 1695 steered me onto the old highways where the road was OK. Some of the yellow alerts are from places that have a history of slow traffic but you learn where these warnings repeat and just plow ahead. The 1695 can report your movement back to the network for traffic purposes (if you wish) but so far I'm hearing they don't use it.
The "12 months" of nuLink! turned into 14 before I had to renew (at a discount) for a year. Weather info will bill each month on your credit card. I did not renew the red light camera warning but it still goes off when I go to the big city. The warning bell annoys me more than the few ads I see.
The Junction Views are very realistic and useful now. Eighteen months ago my 1690 only showed them at larger interchanges in Atlanta and the 1695 did not show them until I updated the maps. Now I can find my favorite burger chain in the fourth little town down the interstate, tap "Go", and a picture of the off ramp and the sign I should look for pop up on the screen about a mile before my exit. The other signs are pictured but "grayed out" like the Amazon picture. You will also see hills, trees, water tanks, highway lights, billboards, etc. but only the highway signs are legible. The 1695 uses actual photos of the exits, feeds them into a computer, removes traffic from the picture and "cartoonizes" everything else. The 1690 just uses one generic picture with a few trees no matter where you are.
I would grade gas price info at B+. Certain towns, certain areas will be around the same price due to taxes or the market. You can search your current location, your route, your destination or type in a city. My gripe is the gas prices may be from today or days ago. If I ran the Garmin network, anything over 24 hours old would cause a harsh phone call.
** 2-18-12 ** Watching Flight Tracker info on computer for a Houston-Mobile flight, 57 minutes, after lunch. At same time GPS shows correct info except the plane is supposed to be in the air from 8 AM to 9 AM. I'm looking at this at 10 AM. Later on the plane was delayed leaving and again landing due to storms. While driving to Mobile and returning home both delays were documented but the times never did correct. This time I blame the weather, maybe nobody is minding the store on weekends, a one-time occurrence. Who knows?
Two suggestions-
1) After your free map updates expire, look for bargains on lifetime updates on Amazon. I caught them at $60.
2) Install a mini SD card. Mine is 2 GB, probably should have gone bigger.
** 6-5-12 ** On GPS forum, the suggestion was to use Internet Explorer for map updates or else. I just tried it with Google Chrome which cut a 3-hour job down to two hours. Also did 1690 and 680 with same happy results. Make sure you disable your security until you disconnect the GPS.
FUEL PRICE UPDATE---- Garmin no longer provides fuel prices on any device as of January 2014. They still charge the same price for nuLink! cell connection despite this failure to deliver as promised.
UPDATE--3/19/14--Garmin sent out notice nuLink! services (2G AT&T) will end on 3/4/15 as AT&T changes their equipment over to 3G and 4G. New orders for nuLink! won't be accepted after 3/4/14 and cell connections may be impacted over the coming year.
Buy something else.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nuvi 1695, 1690lmt, 1490lmt, 3760lmt, and TomTom2535m Live Compared, July 25, 2011
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This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
After recently losing my Mio C310x (I loved that little unit), I figured I'd upgrade to a more modern GPS. I purchased 5 units to return 4 and keep the best one. A TomTom 2535M Live, Nuvi 1490lmt, Nuvi 3760lmt, Nuvi 1690, and the Nuvi 1695. In the end, I kept the 1695 based on the features and ease of use. Each unit was a little different and I went into this open minded, not biased to Garmin or TomTom, but in the end I found the Garmin interface better than TomTom and the 1695 Garmin better than the others because of the live google searches and the weather radar and up to date fuel pricing. Once updated, all the units' maps were pretty accurate. I liked the 1690's free two year Nulink over the 1695's one year, but the compromise there was no weather radar or speed cameras. Liked the 3760's beautiful glass screen and lifetime maps and traffic, but again no live search or weather or cameras. Also for some reason the traffic was buggier on this more expensive unit than the 1490's....they both receive their traffic from an FM signal rather than online like the 1695. The 1695's power cord plugged into the mount similar to the 3760's, which is convenient to remove and reinsert without unplugging the power cord. The live phone directory has come in handy on the 1695 also. Haven't used the flight info, but I'm sure that will eventually come in handy and I don't fly as often as I used to.

To sum it up without writing an essay, of all the units described, I found the Nuvi 1695 to be the best compromise of features of all the other units. Wish Garmin would give it 2 years of Nulink free like the 1690 and also lifetime maps and include the weather radar and safety cameras in the regular Nulink subscription...but don't we always want more. lol. Those would be big improvements in making the 1695 the cadillac of the automotive GPS choices.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some nüLink! features are going away, September 8, 2012
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
Renewal price for 1 year of nüLink! (US) has gone down to $49.95. It is still so worth it for Google search. But be aware that as soon as you renew, the following nüLink! features go away: Movie Times (I miss this), Local Events (occasionally useful), and Ciao! (ick, glad to see it gone).

How anyone can live with a GPS without Google, I don't understand. You don't put up with hierarchical searches on your computer, so why put up with them on your GPS? You don't expect a search engine on your computer to only show POIs that pay to be there, so why put up with it that on a GPS?

I think the fuel price finder (also a nuLink! feature) almost pays for the subscription all by itself. It took me a month to get around to renewing and during that time I'm sure I paid more than $5 extra for gasoline just because I didn't have access to the best prices as I drove around.

But what if they take away more features in another year? I'm tempted to subtract 1 star from my review simply because NOWHERE in the renewal process did Garmin tell me that certain features would disappear when I renewed. However, the information can be found at [...]

[Note that the wording on that site is "(No longer available for new subscriptions or renewals.)" If that is true, then perhaps turning your brand new 1695 on for the first time is a "new subscription" and you'll NEVER get those 3 features. If so, Amazon's description of the 1695 has now become fraudulent.]

Anyway, other great features on the 1695, compared to the only 2 other Google-connected GPSs: It solves Traveling Salesmen problems accurately and with a fairly simple GUI. You can choose the order of the points you visit, or let it optimize them, or even let it optimize first and then fine-tune the order yourself. (What, you say? You have a 1695 and you've never been able to do this...only put in destinations in LIFO order? That's because this feature is hidden under the "Trip Planner", which is basically like Google Maps...in that it can plan a route starting from somewhere other than where you are now. But better, because as far as I know Google Maps on your computer doesn't do Traveling Salesman). The 1695 also lets you save your current location as a favorite, via the "Where Am I" feature...your location needn't have an address. (Handy for saving a Favorite when the address alone takes you to, say, the wrong driveway of a big mall.)

Also note that although the box just says "one free map update", actually the map update is only available within 20, 60, or 90 days of turning on the unit (I've seen all 3 numbers in print, don't know which is correct). Also, it seems to be a well-kept secret as to what map updates actually cost. Apparently (for North America) $49.99 for one time update, $69.99 for lifetime update (that's the GPS's lifetime, not yours!) But you have to own the machine and set up the "Dashboard" on your computer before you can see that info.

And for the truly paranoid (like your humble reporter), you won't be happy to learn that Garmin insists you install, not just a piece of software, but an actual Firefox plug-in in order to use the Dashboard (and hence to be able to download maps, software updates, nuLink renewals, etc.). Presumably something similar on Internet Explorer, I didn't look.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Garmin, March 15, 2012
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This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
Have used this for several months and trips. Never had a problem with it. Easy to program, quick learning curve. Easy to update the maps. This replaced a TomTom and is far superior to it. No complaints or issues. I can recommend this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Garmin 1695, January 15, 2011
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This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
I ordered this unit about a month ago and it has worked flawlessly. I do like the way my 660 routs me a little better however. There is no option on this unit to state the type of vehicle you are in, car, bus, truck. It doesn't seem to like major highways that much. In my opinion it works much better with Traffic Trends and My Trends turned off. I love the weather and traffic updates. Its nice seeing and active weather radar while traveling.
Overall, its a very nice unit. If they would just tweak the algorithm they use for routing, they would have a great unit and I would give it five stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin 1695, June 21, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin nüvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search & Real-Time Traffic (Electronics)
I have been a Garmin fan going back to the Street pilot series. I was looking for a unit with weather radar and real time search. I first bought the TomTom 2535T and found it to be very ackward to use and not intuitive. The general GPS function was unclear and inconsistent. I have since returned it and purchased to Garmin 1695 which is absolutely a great unit. A large bright screen, easy to use interface, realtime traffic, weather, and google search is fantastic. It in my opinion is the best GPS to date with real time features. I hope Garmin continues to expand the real time features into future models. We travel throughout the USA and it has never failed us.
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