331 of 352 people found the following review helpful
I presently have the Nuvi 3790 and almost didn't go for this new unit. I am now glad I did. I have a number of trips all over in the next few weeks and was anxious to get this unit before they began. Had it pre-ordered on Amazon, they sent me a note that it was shipping and then it didn't and got delayed, so I got it elsewhere.
Registering the unit was a breeze. No problem for my Garmin communicator to recognize the unit and ask me if I wanted to register it. Went smoothly. I also loaded safety camera poi's from a third party and that went well too. I use web-updater usually as I can control what gets updated. I had an issue with the 3790 and it had to be replaced (with a refurbished unit). I would NOT load their map updater. I want to be in control of what gets updated. Just my two cents worth of experience.
A word of caution, you have to spend some time drilling down all the menu options, since you have a lot of control over what you want displayed on the screen. The three default buttons seemed fine at first, but I changed one of them ... left the traffic and mute button and changed the stop route button to where to. It seemed to me easier to hit the button to choose a via point than hit a button twice. My personal preference. You can eliminate all the shortcut buttons if you want. I like the idea of them on the screen though.
Speaking of via points, I like how this unit handles them. You can add a lot of them on the way. And you can reorder them as to how you get to them and in what order. Not sure if it optimizes the routing for them, but I suspect it doesn't. I like this approach and control.
I also love the idea of having your favorite poi's or saved destinations available as shortcuts on the where to menu. Reminds me of Magellan -- I have had a few of them in the past -- but like Garmin better.
I also like being able to select what poi's you would like to see pop up on the screen as you travel. Reminds me of my Navigons years ago. Really enjoyed seeing for instance a McDonald's near my travels and just driving in its direction when I had a Navigon 7100 and 7200.
I was concerned that the new user interface was taking away things from me. I love info and the ability to control it. And while the dashboards need some work I found the default one seems to work for me at this point the best. I expect Garmin will update these along the way. I have pretty much what info I had before available to me and even more.
When you calculate a route you are often given a number of options. This happens on the 3790 as well, but it is easier to use on the 3490. Again it reminds me of Navigon. I was sad to see them leave the US market, but Garmin has caught up with their great ideas.
On the first leg of my trip I had the 3790 and 3490 set up side by side. The 3490 got going faster than the 3790. Both had been turned on and had acquired signals the day before, so it was an equal comparison when I pushed both on buttons at the same time. I was well on my way with the 3490 when the 3790 kicked in.
I also noticed more lane assist screens on the 3490 than the 3790. I had read that street info wasn't as prevalent as the 3790, but I selected the more detail option and haven't really noticed much difference.
I have found lane assist to be invaluable. I also like how junction views look with photo real pictures and now sharing the screen and staying on the screen until you get there. Much better approach than a few seconds for a pop up covering the whole screen in the past.
Arrival times always vary. It's hard for any GPS to take into account traffic lights and construction on regular streets. UPS years ago programmed their computers to eliminate left turns as much as possible to save gas and time. They save lots and lots of money. It makes sense if you think about it.
Also, this is the first Garmin unit I have owned that does not say, "recalculating" when a route is being recalculated. It got to be annoying at times. This unit just recalculates with no notice. I also found the voice command feature to be a bit more responsive and accurate than the 3790.
I suspect that one reason the 3400 and 3700 series are not live like the 1695 is its size. No room for the receiver. I did enjoy the live feature and Google search on the 1695 I had, but it's a trade off for the great size.
This is a very compact unit. It's actually the 3790 unit size, but a fraction heavier, just a fraction. I love this size because I carry it in my shirt pocket when out of the car. Garmin has a perfect case just designed for the 3400 and 3700 series. I would urge you to get it. It's available on Amazon for a bit cheaper than the retail price. Garmin Carrying Case nüvi 37xx Series
While it first seemed to me to be an incremental upgrade, I have found the 3490 to be faster, easier to use and with more info options. Make sure you spend time going through all the options. Many things you may think aren't there or can't be changed actually are there and can be changed.
Very worthwhile investment.
10/22/11 Update ------ In the last week I have been to various parts of Central Florida and the Chicago area. I have found the Voice Command feature much better than the Nuvi 3790. More sensitive and better accuracy. Also, when on a route and you are looking for a POI you have the option of looking for it near you, along your route or at your destination. And you can use your voice to choose which option. Much better feature upgrade.
When you are arriving at your destination you know get an alert bar with a parking option. The bar is replaced shortly with a new button on the screen with a P. So now you can easily choose to look for a parking garage, etc. Of course this only happens in areas where there are parking options and would not pop up in a residential area.
Traffic is so far for me hit or miss. I do not like that the traffic button stays green even if there is no signal being received. Very confusing. When it works I like that you get an alert bar at the top telling you of traffic and as with the parking alert above, it gets replaced with an icon of the traffic issue that counts down the mileage to the incident. Nice feature. Also if along the way the Nuvi finds an alternate route that saves time it gives you an alert so you can see the options and change to that routing. Again a nice feature.
Great new unit and I am more convinced that I made a good choice in going with this unit.
11/4/11 Update ----- Garmin issued a software update that improved map drawing, corrected a routing error when going through tunnels, and improved traffic performance, among a number of fixes. One obvious fix is that the green traffic icon now shows gray when not receiving traffic info, which is a real great update. But as I discovered it just means the traffic receiver is not attached. It still shows green when the receiver is attached but not receiving info - not a good thing. Traffic of course is dependent on your area. I have used many such services including Garmin's NuLink, at times with other units side by side. They all are great sometimes, not so great other times. This HD approach is the latest and so far I have had no major issues. Again, keeping in mind that traffic is not always 100%, even those live traffic reporters report a problem in an area I am in and it's not there any more (so much for real-time, live coverage). But when I was on 495 around Washington, DC, it was spot on with delays and location of start and end. Not bad at all.
297 of 319 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2011
The unit looks great, it has very vivid graphics with sharp detail. The navigation features seem good, although it does work a bit differently than other Garmin units I own, so I am working through a learning curve. The "Voice Command" feature is GREAT. It has lots of functionality, and recognizes my voice commands very nearly flawlessly, available commands and options are presented to you on each screen so you don't have to memorize options, it's a CLEAR winner of a feature. The mounting system is easy to use and well designed (I own a Tomtom unit as well, which has a horrible mount system, so this comment is actually important to frustrated Tomtom users). Routing speed is fast (another clear advantage over my tomtom). There are lots of other options I haven't even begun to play with, like Exit Services, points of interest, customizable buttons on the screen, multiple destination routing, and on and on.
So what's not to love? In a word - TRAFFIC. Or the lack of it. And the advertised "HD Traffic" (whatever that means) was one of the main reasons I bought the unit. I live and work in the Pittsburgh, PA area, and normally drive up and down the turnpike (I-76) to/from work. My tomtom receives the traditional NAVTEQ traffic signal for the entire route at full strength. The first 3490LMT I bought never picked up the traffic signal on that route, not once. I called Garmin tech support, they ended up suggesting I return it for another, which I did. The second 3490LMT got a SNIFF of traffic the next day, for about 60 seconds, then gone again. To check it, on the way home I actually detoured through downtown, and sure enough, it finally began picking up signal, although never at full strength that I noticed. The NAVTEQ signal my tomtom picks up without issue is not even registering with the Garmin, much less any of the sexy "update every 60 second traffic" features. Maybe it was supposed to say "updates FOR 60 seconds" not "EVERY 60 seconds." Har har.
So....I'm at a loss as to whether to keep it or return it. I would rate everything but the traffic a solid 5 stars. I rate the traffic a solid 1 star. You can make up your mind how important that feature is to you. For me, I paid a premium price for the unit, with a lot of value deriving from the traffic feature, and without it I'm very disappointed.
UPDATE 26 Oct 2011: I ended up returning the unit. I really did like everything about it except the anemic traffic a lot, and tried to talk myself into not wanting the traffic feature. But in the end I decided that only having a traffic signal for the few blocks surrounding the downtown Pittsburgh area was just too silly - Pittsburgh does actually have a lot of traffice outside those few blocks - and it had to go back. I see other reviews complaining about the traffic as well. I'll wait, and if Garmin releases a new production run with an updated receiver I'll consider buying then. Until then I'll plod along with my Tomtom, which annoys me more every day it seems, heh...
89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2012
I live in LA. So for obvious reasons, high quality and up-to-date real-time traffic information is important to me. I purchased this unit to replace a Garmin 3790, which had proved disappointing. The 3790 uses Garmin's "3D Traffic" service which receives traffic data over standard FM radio. It updated too slowly. Sometimes it would take as long as 20 minutes after switch-on before its traffic data was fully loaded. And this delay meant I would often get told about a traffic back-up too late to do anything about it. Also, 3D Traffic is only good for freeway information. So if you opt to avoid conjestion by switching to a surface street, you don't know if that route is also conjested until you get there.
The great thing about the 3490 is that it comes with "Digital 3D Traffic". This uses HD radio which transmits traffic data much more quickly. The 3490 usually tells me its traffic information is up to date within just a couple of minutes of being switched on. In addition, it gives me traffic information about major surface streets, not just the freeways.
There's lots to like about the Garmin 3490. It's slim, fast and intuitive. I especially like the way that I can key in a destination address by giving the street number and street name first (instead of city first). Before I even enter the city name, it's already worked out which cities have that street number and name. Most of the time, I don't even have to enter the city - it's already worked it out. And unlike many other GPS devices I've tried, it has reliable Point of Interest data, so I can find anything from a furniture store to a theme park very quickly.
But the 3490 has two critical flaws. And for me they're show-stoppers. They're both related to the Digital 3D Traffic functionality.
The first is that the reception of Digital 3D Traffic data is disappointingly poor. For example, today I drove from San Diego to Burbank and I had no traffic updates for 26 minutes from just north of San Clemente until just before the Euclid Avenue intersection on I5. That's a long time not to have any updates. A lot can happen on I5 in 26 minutes! And this lack of reception isn't happening out in the desert, it's happening in Orange County. The HD receiver was perfectly positioned on the dash of the car throughout this time. Not good. But, to be fair, HD radio reception isn't Garmin's problem. So although the gaps in coverage are annoying, I can't fault Garmin for them. But I can definitely fault Garmin for the second flaw.
The device has a color-coded traffic indicator that shows up in the Maps view. When it's green it indicates no traffic on route. When it's yellow it indicates there's problem ahead but it's not serious enough to require a re-route. You can click on the indicator to see where the problem is and how long your delay is predicted to be. When it's red, it indicates a serious traffic problem ahead. The 3490 will either re-route you automatically (and tell you it's doing that) or you can click on the red indicator and choose a suggested alternative route by hand. All very reasonable you may think. So if you're driving along a freeway and the traffic indicator stays green you can relax and feel confident that you're not about to run into a major freeway backup - right? Wrong! And the reason is very simple. The unit also shows the green indicator when it has no traffic data. Which is exactly what happened to me today.
So to my annoyance, I came across a backup on I5 in Tustin, just after the I5 - I405 split. If the 3490 had told me there was a backup on I5, I could have easily diverted to the 405. Exactly the kind of decision that I expect a real-time traffic GPS to help me make. But I made the mistake of believing the green traffic indicator. And you can't trust it. Sometimes it means there's no traffic data, and sometimes it means there's no traffic. Those two are very different conditions. If only the unit would do something like gray-out the traffic indicator to indicate "no data" it wouldn't be so bad. At least I'd then know to check the traffic channel on the radio, or I could ask a passenger to look at SigAlert or GoogleMaps. But the way it works right now, the green traffic indicator is misleading and therefore ultimately annoying.
I need a device that gives me reliable continuous real-time traffic data in metropolitan areas. And I need a device that I can trust when it says there is no traffic en-route. Unfortunately the Garmin 3490LMT doesn't do either of those reliably, so it isn't the device for me. I'm returning mine tomorrow.
241 of 276 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2011
upd/04/25: most of this review gets outdated as old issues get fixed, which is good. What is not so good is that routing (with TrafficTrends on) became way too conservative. At nighttime on local streets it's not uncommon for for the unit to give a 20-minute estimate on a 12 minute route. It looks as if the "trends" are not granular enough to separate day and night. Time estimate is also very conservative on highways. I am not an aggresive driver, but even for me highway travel times are way too pessimistic. HD traffic coverage is still virtually non-existent outside of NYC and few other areas. Just to give an example, there is no traffic coverage pretty much anywhere on I-87 from NYC to Canadian border. To be fair, things are much better on I-91 in Connecticut and quite good in NYC.
All in all, after using 3490 for >6 months now I am still holding to my initial opinion: this is is the best thing Garmin has done since 25x and 75x series since everything in between was just a sad joke. On the other hand, I still find that those older models do a better job in many situation and the software is definitely way more stable on older units. Other than that, 3490 is cool and fun, unless you want to sacrifice some screen resolution but get a bigger screen with 2595
upd 01/18: it looks like after 3 months of delay, "Unable to calculate route" error was finally fixed with firmware version 4.4.
Also this update introduced something called "smartphone link".According to description, it connects to Android phones and brings Live traffic for $20/year and fuel prices for $10/year. Tried it once so far - very easy to set up, just have to download the app and connect via bluetooth. Traffic data seemed to different from what is coming through HD and showed a some highways as closed while they were not. One annoying "feature" is that when smartphone link is in use, all calls are forwarded to the Nuvi, which is sort of redundant.
The rest is the review as of November.
"Best Garmin" doesn't mean perfect. It's a new model, so bugs are visible every day. It fails to calculate pretty much every route from Brooklyn to Manhattan due to (what it seems to be) a mapping bug on one of the highways. So I have to drive up to the critical point and navigate from there. I've seen people having similar problem in other parts of the country and this also is an issue with other models from the new line-up (tested on 2495). My expectation is that this will be fixed soon as it's not really acceptable. Upd: as I've said - fixed in firmware v 4.4
Update to 3.6 also introduced a curious bug where the unit occasionally reboots itself if I miss a turn.
I also had problems registering it because Garmin communicator plug-in couldn't see it on my PC. If you have the same problem, it should be easily solvable, see comments to this post.
Sometimes it also restarts during voice recognition. No big deal, really.
Map detail is still inadequate. In 2D view most highways will not be labeled, which makes selecting a point on map a very painful, if not impossible task. Old pre 1xxx Garmins have better map detail and I still much prefer 255W for long-distance drives. Especially given that it has better traffic coverage.
That said, I actually like 3490 way more then I expected and I think it's a great unit. The UI has been re-worked and simplified compared to the chaotic mess that Garmin has been doing for the last 2-3 years. It's almost as easy to use as old Nuvi's from 200, 600 and 700 series, but has a much richer functionality. (Ok, the UI might not be immediately straightforward and I had to explain customer service rep how to turn GPS simulation mode on, but once you get used to it, it feels great and gets better with time)
One of the best features of 3490 is the ease of input. You don't have to suffer through entering the state and the city anymore. Just type the street and the house number and it will search for the address in nearby cities and states, will give you a list of choices , and only if you don't see the one you're looking for, you can type the city and state. For someone who has to commute between two states (like NY and NJ) that would be a nice relief. Also, while you type, it offers several matching street names to choose from. The only strange thing is that the matches don't seem to depend on your prior searches, e.g. if you recently searched for "Broadway" and start typing "B", you'll have to type all the way until "Broadw" before "Broadway" shows up. TomTom (I own 2535) would give it right away.
POI search is also simplified (even though it's hard to imagine that POI search on Garmin can be made simpler). Many weird GUI solutions made in earlier versions are now re-worked into something that gives you a very pleasant experience. POI categories are even more clearly defined, restaurant types have even more sub-categories and you can also search POI by simply typing (or saying) the name. Also what's important, POI search is very fast, great improvement compared to older versions.
You still have an option to choose "poi near destination", "poi near active route", etc, and selecting those options is also much easier than on units released in the last couple of years. "Poi near active route" option was re-worked and it feels like it's integrated with the new "exit services" feature. If in the past you would get a list of, hotels, with distance, now it would group them by highway name and exit number and for the nearest ones will give the distance to the exit too. I have to note here that I had at least one case where with all the bells and whistles and the new UI, the closest gas station it could offer along the route was 10 miles away and required additional 10 minutes of travel time, while my pre-historic 255W with same map version offered a gas station that was 1 mile away and required a 2-minute detour.
Another item that was re-worked significantly is adding a via point. It now seems to be integrated with trip planner, so when you try to add a new point to your route, you can re-shuffle the order of destinations. The downside of it, as some people complained, is that if you browse a map, it might only show you the first leg of the route (as always, not clear why). This doesn't seem to be a big issue and if while planning you select "routes" you will be able to see the whole route on map during the planning stage.
Speaking of this, yet another awesome feature of 3490 is that it offers you several routes to your destination and you can pick the one you like. Not just "route A, route B" as it showed up on 3790 and others, but more like Google maps or Navigon. A grain of salt is that when displayed on the map, the colors for alternative routes do not take into account current map scheme, so in some color schemes they are pretty much invisible as their color may be very similar to the colors of highways and interstates. There is also no way to see the alternatives in text format.
Now, the most important piece - the routing. They made really a quantum leap and a great break-through there. For the last 3 or 4 years Garmin was way behind TomTom in terms of navigation in big cities and failed to account for historically congested roads and delays due to traffic lights. Last year Garmin rolled out TrafficTrends as a response to TomTom's IQRoutes. It's been a complete disaster as you can read in multiple reviews. After all this time I was surprised to see that TrafficTrends actually do work on 3490. The estimated arrival time and routes in NYC have been improved dramatically. I am driving with 3490 alongside TomTom 2535 LIVE and I can't really say that one unit is much better than the other. It's pretty much a tie where TomTom probably maintains slight lead. Route calculation times on Garmin are not bad, but recalculation while driving is sometimes much slower than on TomTom. There may be situation when recalculation takes a while. It's mildly annoying as you might miss an exit or a turn, but doesn't happen too often.
Just to give you some idea how the routing works in NYS.
On my test routes that includes Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn I've got
1) estimated 35 min, actual driving time - 45
2) estimated 28 min, actual driving time - 43 (7 minutes unreported bridge traffic + 6 minutes traffic lights)
3) estimated 36 min, actual driving time - 41
4) estimated 17 min, actual driving time 15.
This timing is with enabled TrafficTrends (TrafficTrends are by default disabled on this unit)
Traffic. I see a lot of people complaining about it. In New York and around the city everything works pretty well. There doesn't seem to be much traffic signal out of the city and when I approach a city it seems to get the signal later than either TomTom or my old Garmin. Outside of NYC I've seen virtually no traffic coverage on this unit. Haven't gone far enough, at most 6-7 hour drives. Regular FM does a much better job.
On a positive side, in the city traffic acquisition is immediate, thanks to HD radio traffic. Feels almost like Live units, but requires a cable to be plugged in.
Of course, initial acquisition is only a part of the picture and mostly matters when you start driving. While on your way, it doesn't matter too much if update frequency is 30 sec or 2-3 min like on devices with FM receivers. What matters more is the quality of information your traffic provider gives you. I've seen a case when TomTom's HD Traffic correctly indicated that there is an 8-minute traffic on a local street in Manhattan while 3490 tried to route through this street. I've also seen my old 255W (with double Navteq + TTN subscription) showing a better highway traffic coverage. And of course I had a few chances to spend 20-40 minutes in traffic that none of my units had any idea about. Overall, I am happy with the traffic info I get on this unit on NYC streets (not talking about out of town) and think it's pretty much on par with TomTom's HD
Voice recognition works like a charm and "wake up" phrase to activate voice recognition is a cool feature present on Garmins and absent on TomToms. I never really cared about voice recognition and normally would play with it a couple of times and forget forever. On 3490 I actually use it, even for things like adjusting screen brightness.
Advanced detours, introduced in 24xx series are also available on 3490 (and also disabled by default). Seems to work well. In general, implementation is a bit less user friendly than on TomTom, like when you would try to avoid a road by street name, it has a tendency to get too detailed and show you every ramp, so that on complex interchanges it becomes nearly impossible to figure out what needs to be selected. Other than that, it's a very welcome addition that was missing on Garmin for a long time. They also have an option to avoid any square region on map. I tried to use it to block block a permanently closed exit near Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan. It ended up blocking the whole block that included the whole avenue, which was absolutely not what I was looking for.
Screen - high resolution, bright, multi-touch, dual-orientation and all other bells and whistles. Very good.
Finally, few things that disappoint me. Some are a matter of personal taste, so may be minor for most people.
Speed indicator turns red as soon as you exceed speed limit by 1 mile. In night color mode red on gray is difficult to read as there is not enough contrast between the two colors, especially when you try to look at it from a 5ft distance. It's really stressing my eyes and it clearly would take a developer like 30 seconds to slightly modify the colors. I complained before in earlier versions, but still no change.
Sound quality is not the best you can find. The device is very thin, so it's probably hard to squeeze in a decent speaker. This is not a big issue, just it's very noticeable if you run it side-by-side with a bulkier gps unit. Also, the generated voice that speaks street names sounds too robotic compared to TomTom's.
Map rendering is sometimes slow. Looking at 2D map at large scale is nearly impossible as the unit goes into sleep mode before it actually manages to render the map. Sometimes it is also noticeable while driving and parts of the screen my get black for some time. To me it's not really a a big issue and is not nearly as irritating as the speed limit thing.
When viewed on a large scale, the map would mostly show the grid of highways with no labels. On long-distance trips it makes zooming-out on the map effectively useless. It comes nowhere close to 2D map display that was available on pre-1000 units. Yeah, it looks better on 3490, but it gives you less information and I am not happy with this trade-off.
Initially I was also stupid enough to complain about screen been overloaded with useless buttons. This is easily fixable, see comments.
Not a drawback of this specific unit, but it's anyway sad that the device is not connected. Features like live speed cameras or gas prices or weather radar are nice to have and something one gets used to very quickly. Also, I would strongly prefer a 5-inch device, but for some reason they don't produce 5-inch higher-end units. Looks strange to me as I don't really care if it's thin and light. After the excitement of the first few days is gone and the unit is installed in the car, thickness doesn't really matter, but screen size does.
Overall, I like this unit. It seems to be good enough or almost good enough to make TomTom non-critical for driving on NYC streets. It also has a much friendlier UI that's almost as easy to use as the one on my old 255. Taking into account map details, I still think 255 and other ancient Garmins are better choices for long-distance trips, but 3490 comes pretty close. And their implementation of lane assist is just great.
The biggest problem for me now is "unable to calculate route" issue as it affects pretty much every route I have to take (up until I cross some critical point on that highway). Other than that, it feels almost like the spirit of good old user-friendly Garmin is back. If only they fixed map details and speed indicator...
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2012
I have recently been shopping for a new Garmin GPS to replace my 755T. At first I focused on the 3490 LMT, but I ended up purchasing the 3760 LMT (at Amazon) when I learned the 3400 series and many other 2012 Garmin GPS units no longer have any alert when you miss a turn.
Apparently, some people do not like to be told their Garmin is recaclulating when they miss a turn, and so Garmin has removed the announcement from their 2012 units listed below. I actually prefer to hear the announcement because it warns me to pay attention while my Garmin is helping me to get back on the correct route.
I have asked Garmin to restore the announcement, or to make the announcement optional. If you agree I hope you will also "alert" Garmin! This FAQ now appears at Garmin's Web site:
Most Garmin devices will verbally inform you that they're recalculating your route if you miss a turn or veer off the calculated route. Devices that no longer verbally indicate that they're recalculating your route are as follows:
nuvi 40 series
nuvi 50 series
nuvi 60 series
nuvi 2400 series
nuvi 2405 series
nuvi 2407 series
nuvi 2408 series
nuvi 2505 series
nuvi 2507 series
nuvi 2508 series
nuvi 2707 series
nuvi 2708 series
nuvi 3400 series
nuvi 3500 series
nuvi 3507 series
nuvi 3508 series
LIVE 2300 series
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2011
There are shills among us. I've read their reviews. They know not of what they speak. You know who you are.
My prior Garmin device was okay. I commute from northwest of the Pittsburgh Airport to the Point Breeze area of Pittsburgh daily. Depending on the route I take, it is between 30 and 35 miles and takes an average of an hour and fifteen minutes in each direction. If there is an accident, bad weather, or unexpected construction zones, that can expand to two hours or more.
My commuter vehicle of choice is a standard Mini Cooper (I love you, little guy!). No turbo. One hundred and twenty horsepower soaking wet. Would slow down going off a cliff. Really fun to drive and nimble when being attacked from a blind spot. I'm information obsessed when commuting. I listen to the local talk radio station for traffic hints and make my decisions accordingly. I also have the ecoRoute device that transmits particular engine data points from the OBD port to this Garmin device. If you don't have it, get it. It's fascinating.
This device has so many features to explore when you first install it. It's highly configurable, which many people may be intimidated by, but I'm a software engineer and insist on finding every last checkbox the device has to offer. You can display buttons, or not. Change the layering of the maps from highly granular 3D in the city to my preferred map display mode I call Sgt. Joe Friday -- "Just the facts, ma'am".
It computes routing much faster than my old Garmin. Thankfully, I do not hear "Recalculating" anymore when I take a side road or shortcut. Because I live outside the radio range of traffic signal reception, I make my decision as to what route to take to work (short but slow or long but fast) based on the radio station I listen to. It recomputes in a few seconds and off I go.
The trip computer is greatly enhanced. It shows most of what you'd expect it to show as well as having an "A" and "B" side which allows you to get trip information for each leg of a trip while maintaining the integrity of the information for the entire trip. Really welcomed for trips requiring overnight stops.
Data recordation can be done on a micro SD card. I slapped a 4G card in the tiny little slot and I'd be hard pressed to have to purge data as long as I own the Mini.
The ecoRoute has a gauge view that is configurable which displays RPM, data from the Oxygen sensors, cooling liquid temp, battery voltage, et al. The Mini has no native water temp gauge and that was a source of paranoia on hot summer days sitting in traffic. It's never been a problem, but I had a need to know. Interestingly, if you have an Android device, there is a Garmin app that offers additional information not available on my unit. I hope Garmin will pull additional data points in the future. They are limited in what they can display at any given time because of display size. ecoRoute offers a lot of feedback about how you drive. Starting. Braking. Throttle handling. If you are looking to maximize fuel economy, these features will help.
The device is updated via a web browser plugin. It worked flawlessly on both my Mac and PC. It's very simplified. Push a couple of buttons and the new maps are just there. Not scary at all. And the maps are just maps. Accurate. Informational. The device recomputes arrival time as you go and is spot on. By spot on, I mean that you will arrive within a few minute window. Anyone expecting exactitude doesn't understand how they drive or how someone turning left against traffic might add a minute to their trip. It does the best it can with the information at hand.
And so on, and so on. I'd need pages to list all the features. Just explore. It will take a while to learn the device and adjust it to your style and information needs. The point is, you can adjust it to your style and information needs. So flexible.
Let me talk about the device's form factor. It is as thin as my iPhone. Light. Connects and disconnects quickly from the vehicle. I park in protected space during the day and with my old device, I just left it in the car in plain view or tossed the whole rig under a seat if I parked elsewhere. With this device, I unlatch it from it's display holder and slip it in my pocket or backpack. No effort at all, really.
Finally, you CAN adjust the volume on the device so it will drive you out of the car, if that's what you'd like. It's a button push away.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2011
UPDATE: Per-feature review information added to help you figure out if you really want the "Garmin Guidance 3.0" features on the 34xx models.
The first thing that anyone considering buying this around December 2011 should know is that, unless you are really determined to buy the latest and greatest non-integrated GPS unit on the market or something, you might want to save some money and get a Garmin nüvi 2595LMT 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps and Traffic which, BTW, also has a larger (5") screen. While the 3490 has "Garmin Guidance 3.0", the 2595 has the larger screen and appears to only be missing the "3.0" features which aren't that amazing. The main difference most people will notice is the glass multi-touch screen on the 3490, which is nice, but perhaps not worth an extra $150 by itself.
Other than the price, I have no real complaints about this model except maybe that I can't get one with a 5" screen. Before buying this I would go to Garmin's web site and figure out if you're going to care about any of their super "Garmin Guidance 3.0" features. If not, I'd just get a less expensive one (with a 5" screen even, which you can't even get in this series). I'm a gadget freak so I decided to pay the premium for the latest model, but that's just me. (I kind of feel like I'm wasting money just for the sake of entertainment.)
The glass screen is quite nice, the user interface is very well designed, and the routing seems pretty good. You can change your little car icon to a tie fighter or some other sort of car if you want, you can change the voice, create your own voice with some Windows-only software, and some other non-important little features like that, but the thing is that (other than the glass screen) all of this stuff is available on less expensive models.
Other stuff that I like (that's also available on less expensive models): the ability to plan trips and create routes on my computer and then upload them to the GPS instead of having to tap on the little screen to do all of this, the ability to download the "travel log" (breadcrumb trail) off of the thing (which is useful for geotagging photos with software that associates photo times with position times on the trail), and the custom Point of Interest upload feature. All of this stuff was particularly important to me.
Whatever model you get, I recommend getting the "lifetime" traffic and map updates. I personally can't stand to pay recurring fees for for content updates on these things.
So pretty much all of the stuff that matters to me is also available on less expensive models, so I wouldn't say I really needed the top of the line; I just decided to give up the 5" screen and blow an extra $150 on extra features I don't really need because I'm a gadget nut.
I did look at TomTom, but I didn't buy one of their GPS units because I don't feel like their desktop software support is as good. About they only feature they have that I wish Garmin's units had was their community contributed content stuff.
Lastly, before deciding on a GPS to buy, check out the Garmin ecoRoute HD Vehicle Diagnostics Communicator HD to see if you're going to want to use that. If so then check the list of compatible GPS models.
I would rate the 3490 5 stars, but I'm subtracting a star simply because I feel like they're gouging on price (as of December 2011) a bit *just* because it's the latest model. Next year (2012) the price on this will drop quite a bit, I'm guessing.
Garmin Guidance 3.0 Feature Review Details
(The stuff that the 34xx series has that the older "Garmin Guidance 2.0" models don't.)
I've been on an 800 mile trip with this thing at this point so I can say more about the specific "3.0" features:
"Digital 3D Traffic provides updates every 30 seconds" - Whether this is worth anything is hard to say. Certainly it's doing much better at keeping up with traffic data than my 3+ year old Navigon was, but is it better than the "Garmin 2.0" stuff? How important is it to update this every 30 seconds vs every minute? Very hard to say. Didn't affect my buying decision.
"InstaSearch for faster spelling searches" - In my opinion this is no big deal. It pretty much just ammounts to more intelligent search interpretation sort of like what you get in Google Maps; type the name of a place, or type a whole address. I don't have trouble with entering search information so I don't really notice much advantage here. Didn't affect my buying decision, but might be important to you.
"InstaRoute loads maps faster than ever" - I really don't know what this means. Certainly it's much faster than my old GPS, but I'm guessing it's really not that much better than the "2.0" Garmin models. Didn't affect my buying decision.
"Pinch-to-zoom multi-touch interaction" - The glass capacitive touch screen is much nicer than a resistive touch screen, and pinch zoom is nice, but I never need to pinch zoom. So really all I care about here is the glass/capacitive screen. Some effect on my buying decision.
"Automatic dual-screen orientation (horizontal/vertical)" - Like the iPhone/etc, there's an accelerometer in the thing that will let you orient it vertically and it'll automatically rotate the user interface. I have not used vertical orientation at all, only the typical horizontal. I probably would have used vertical if I were using pedestrian navigation, but I'm not. Might also matter if I were trying to fit the GPS into a narrow tall space or something. No affect on my decision to buy.
"Bird's Eye lane guidance highlights proper lane with overhead perspective" - This is actually kind of useful, but it's a slight improvement that's not always 100% correct, and didn't have any real impact on my buying decision.
"myTrends(tm) anticipates your destination based on your driving habits" - After 800+ miles of driving around with this, I still have no idea what this is. Sounds cool and I was curious about it, and it had some impact on my buying decision, but so far I still haven't figured out what this is supposed to be. Must be too advanced for me to understand.
"SafeText reader -- receive and hear texts without taking your eyes off the road" - The whole bluetooth phone interface is actually pretty good, especially with the voice recognition stuff. However, I don't really do lots of texting so I haven't even tried this feature. It had no impact on my buying decision.
"Voice-activated navigation for hands-free operation (nüvi 3490)" - The voice recognition is pretty good since you don't have to tap the screen to initiate it. Instead you can speak (more like yell if you have lots of road noise) an activation phrase to enter voice command mode. I don't normally expect voice recognition stuff to work well enough to use, but after trying this it actually IS very usable. You can set up a route, find a gas station along a route, dial someone on the phone, etc, all using voice with no screen tapping. A huge improvement over what I'm used to. This WOULD have an effect on my buying decision if I had really been able to try it beforehand.
"One-shot POI/address entry" - Same on the 2xxx series. All this means is that you don't have to enter the street number, city name, etc into their own special fields to get the thing to recognize an address. Again, no improvement over the 2xxx.
"3D terrain" - Cool, but not a huge deal.
Battery life - 4h vs 2.5h on older models. I normally expect to have this plugged in to the car's power, so this doesn't matter much to me.
The 3490 seems to do a very good job of routing and especially offering up suggestions for avoiding traffic. Hard to say but it may actually be significantly better than the 2xxx models at helping you avoid traffic. It's supposed to also use historical traffic information ("trafficTrends") of some sort (like "at 5pm on this road the avg speed is usually 30mph instead of 55mph) then use that to compute the best route at the current time of day, day of week, etc. It would take some serious "Consumer Reports" style comparison testing to really tell how much better "3.0" is at traffic avoidance though.
Well, I hope this helps.
51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2012
This device will not calculate any route that goes through the intersection of I-495(Capital Beltway) and Route 267(the Dulles Toll Road)outside the Washington, DC area. That intersection is missing from the maps. For example, anyone who lives east of Dulles Airport cannot use the machine to get to the airport, and anyone who is at Dulles Airport cannot use the machine to get into DC. When I called Garmin to let them know of the problem, they told me they were aware of the issue, but were not sure when they would fix it. I am stunned that a problem of this magnitude (these are two MAJOR roads in the DC area) would not be considered urgent. If you live near or plan to drive to DC, this machine is useless to you.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2011
I am on my second 3490LMT. The first GPS lasted about three days before the screen went black. The replacement is working fine (I'm only on day three with it.), but I can not connect to my Blackberry Curve 9330 using bluetooth. I did not have this problem with the first unit. The new unit did connect once on the way home, but after several attempts at pairing it up with my phone I will probably exchange it as well. Would I recommend this unit? On the software side yes. It is great and full of features that I like. I can tell that there was a lot of effort put into it. I think that the hardware side of this model will be the drawback. It does read made in Taiwan on the bottom. I will keep trying until I find a unit from this model that works. I hate to give it three stars, because it is feature rich and really fast, but I think people should be cautious at least from my experience with the hardware side.
I did decide to try for a third time. So far so good. However I picked this unit up from another state that I recently traveled to, exchanging my old one. Just in case the original store had a batch of defective units. Now I am able to connect to my cell for hands free calling. I have seen it slowly load a map only once. I also lost satellite reception, and had to reboot the unit to get it back. For the people who commented on my post, I have not had any trouble with the traffic reporting in two states. I went through several sections of construction, and was warned accurately each time. At the time of this writing I have not proceeded with any updates. In case anyone is wondering, my old unit is a street pilot 3. I have had it for many years, and to this day it works fine although the maps are outdated. Garmin should note that that sort of quality is what drove me to buy another of their GPS units. All the bells and whistles account for nothing if the thing won't work.
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
I have had this unit for appx. 6 weeks but have been very disappointed with the navigation and with the voice recognition features. With regards to the navigation issues.. I was attempting to drive on a major East-West highway (I-40) here in North Carolina and the unit continually re-routed me stating that the road was closed ahead. I ignored the directions and continued on to find (as I knew) that the highway was not closed, was not under contruction, or anything else. I've also had the unit provide me with completely WRONG directions, e.g. sending me nearly 10 miles North when the route I needed to take was directly South from where I was at.
Regarding the voice recognition. I attempted to use all of the supported commands but was only able to get a couple of them to work properly. I grew up in the Midwest and speak at a normal pace, good volume, and have no accent. I attempted to use the voice recognition to initiate several navigation events and nearly every one failed due to the voice recognition software misinterpreting what I was saying. Worth mentioning is that I have a new Apple iPhone 4S with Siri voice recognition software. I have had NO issues with the voice recognition software on the iPhone.
I'm going to give the unit a little more time but am likely going to contact Garmin to see what support they can provide me for this defective unit. What makes my experience a bit more frustrating is that I spent the extra $$$$ for what I thought was Garmin's latest and best GPS only to find I got device severely lacking in even the basic functionality it is supposed to provide.