Garmin Nuvi 1490T

While it mightn't be terribly exciting, the 1490T's combination of traffic messaging, junction view, ease of use and Bluetooth hands-free, make this the 5-inch GPS to get.


8.5
CNET Rating
7.3
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Design

Close your eyes, think of a Garmin Nuvi 1390T and scale it up to fit a 5-inch touchscreen and — bam! — you've got the Garmin Nuvi 1490T. There's a rubberised back that feels great and a simple, compact windscreen mount that sticks firmly.

At 16mm thick the 1450T is catwalk thin, but the unit's 5-inch screen means that it gobbles up real estate like Cookie Monster chomps on you-know-what and on smaller cars, or ones with shallow windscreens, this may present a slight safety hazard. On the upside, destination entry is a breeze thanks to the large keys on the virtual keyboard. The menus and their friendly icons will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a Garmin GPS before.

Instructions are easy to read at a glance, with turn instructions posted prominently in the left-hand corner. Lane guidance is available for most multi-lane roads and there's full-screen junction view graphics, complete with real-world photos, for motorway exits. The map screen is clear, but Garmin insists on hiding non-major roads by default, which can make it seem like you're driving through the countryside even when you're traversing the inner city.

Performance

Routes generated by the 1490T often favour clogged main roads and sometimes confound well-versed locals with their counter-intuitiveness. The 1490T comes preloaded with the latest Whereis maps and while these prove to be more reliable in the inner city (especially with turn restrictions) and in the bush than Navteq's offering, it's still likely to lead you to the wrong part of the street as street numbering is nowhere close to being 100 per cent accurate.

A lifetime Suna traffic messaging subscription is included and this allows the 1450T to display traffic incidents, like planned roadworks, special events, jams and accidents, either via a coloured overlay on a black-and-white version of the normal map, as an easily digestible list or as a series of possible delays on your route. As we've mentioned before, the traffic messaging alerts are handy as a guide, but we would often run into delays that had yet to turn up in the system or ones that had already cleared.

If you happen to enter a tunnel, there's no dead reckoning to make up for the lack of GPS satellite reception nor are there any instructions, so if there's a particular tunnel exit that needs to be taken, good luck. Positioning accuracy is good in the suburbs, but the unit can lose track of satellites in the CBD leading to either incorrect positioning or complete signal drop out, which is normal.

Other features

Red light and speed camera locations are hailed by a warning chime and a signposted icon on the map. Though this is better than the indecipherable flashing icons used by some other makers, the text could do with being a bit larger, even on the 5-inch screen. School zone locations need to be installed manually — check out our guide to find out how.

Text-to-speech works well enough, but it does mangle some Australian street names to comic effect. We do wish that the company would remove the "recalculating route" message from its GPS units, although thanks to Garmin's free Voice Studio software, these can be edited out — if you're willing to go without text-to-speech, that is.

MP3 playback and an FM transmitter are absent from the 1490T's feature list, but you do get Bluetooth hands-free. Bluetooth works quite well with decent sound quality at our end, although you do have to raise your voice to somewhere between a normal speaking volume and shouting to be heard at the other end.

Conclusion

While it mightn't be terribly exciting, the 1490T's combination of traffic messaging, junction view, ease of use and Bluetooth hands-free, make this the 5-inch GPS to get.



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CaptW posted a comment   
Australia

Karma must have got me. I got my 1490T 18 months ago as a replacement (after much haggling at Dick Smith) for a previous Garmin 1450T which they couldn't repair. It just kept trying to reboot all the time. I had bought a new cable thinking the lousy right angle connection plug was the problem, but no. The 1490T has died now in the last couple of days...the screen just went grey. I managed to crack the glass when I gave it a flick to get the GPS to try to do anything. Of course it didn't work, I didn't expect it to I guess.
I may take it back to DS but right now I am just about over Garmin. I decided on Garmin because of my long experience with their gear as a comm pilot. Aviation gear might be OK (I never had a problem ever) but their car stuff seems to be garbage, in my experience anyway.
Anyone recommend a GPS of similar spec to the 1490T?

 

born2fish posted a comment   
Australia

This a great unit for viewing, but on the down side. I had a cheap binnatone unit that left for dead on the information it gave compared to garmin Ex....This unit is useless for taxi and shuttle bus drivers , binnatone gave bus lanes and taxi lanes plus bus lanes into airports Perth domestic airport ex. this unit does not. Rendezvous hotel Scarborough W.A. has been there 25 years, the entrance has always been west coast hwy. garmin tries to take you round the back on the esplanade, why? The address of the hotel is 200 the esplanade, but is a firm from England can get you to the right entrance why can't garmin? Having given all these negative points, this is by far the clearest to see and navigate with if you don't mind taking the scenic tour. It has the habit of taking 10 left and 10 right hand turns when you could have gone straight. Who ever did the mapping for this has never been to Australia. Find out who did the mapping for Binnatone and hire him/her. Do that and taxi and bus drivers will buy your product. Thankyou, Shuttle Bus Driver Perth W.A.

itinerantAlien
1
Rating
 

itinerantAlien posted a review   

The Good:junction view, improved text-to-speech

The Bad:appalling routing

It's simple really, if the routing algorithm stinks every other feature doesn't matter. I had the nuvi 660 for > 3 years and although it was basic by today's standards, it was pretty good at plotting a route from A to B. In comparison, the 1490T has a much slicker interface and feature set but it's routing is appalling. I was actually, and literally, embarrassed by its choice of route when I had a car full of in-laws the other day. If the 660 hadn't died, I would go back to it, as it is, I've now spent $200 setting up my smartphone in my car - google maps navigation spanks it and is only a beta version! I can't for the life of me understand how a specialist GPS company has gone so spectacularly backwards in routing in the past few years. Garmin deserves to have its lunch eaten by the likes of google.

Derek
10
Rating
 

Derek posted a review   

Lovely to use, very good sensitive screen. Easy menus. Great gps.

Dante
10
Rating
 

Dante posted a review   

CNET editors choice winner and can see why, loving mine.
Easy to use and great features. Try for yourself think you will see why it is so highly rated.

Terry
10
Rating
 

Terry posted a review   

The Good:Quick, screen, reliable, best gps

The Bad:cost

Pricey but worth it. Quick to use, great screen and maps.
Hasn't let me down yet. Best gps I have owned.

Peter
10
Rating
 

Peter posted a review   

The Good:Great value, features, super quick system.

The Bad:Price I guess, but worth it.

Best gps I have used, and I have tried them all!
Easy menus, responsive screen, very quick, very reliable.

Awesome.

Hamish
10
Rating
 

Hamish posted a review   

The Good:Great responsive touchscreen, menus and features

The Bad:nothing

No wonder this won the cnet editors award, its brilliant.
Best gps unit I have used (im a professional driver and have used a few:)
Super quick menu's, good maps, excellent screen.
very simple and easy to use, menu's structured well.
Try and then buy, I did and very happy.

Sam
10
Rating
 

Sam posted a review   

The Good:Works great and very quick.

The Bad:not really

I think a lot of the time the problem is the idiot user, not the unit.
My 1490t is awesome, never let me down, and all features work brilliantly. Try it and see for yourself, sure you will be happy as me.

Andrew
10
Rating
 

Andrew posted a review   

The Good:Screen, interface, features, quality

The Bad:fairly expensive, but you get what you pay for here!

I have tried and used portable gps units from various manufacturers, and this one is the best. Tomtom runs it a close 2nd, but this unit has superior interface, screen, and features. Has also been very reliable in 8 months of use.
Found the mapping to be excellent, and lot better then my old navman and mio units.
Pricey, but highly recommended.


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User Reviews / Comments  Garmin Nuvi 1490T

  • CaptW

    CaptW

    "Karma must have got me. I got my 1490T 18 months ago as a replacement (after much haggling at Dick Smith) for a previous Garmin 1450T which they couldn't repair. It just kept trying to reboot all ..."

  • born2fish

    born2fish

    "This a great unit for viewing, but on the down side. I had a cheap binnatone unit that left for dead on the information it gave compared to garmin Ex....This unit is useless for taxi and shuttle bu..."

  • itinerantAlien

    itinerantAlien

    Rating1

    "It's simple really, if the routing algorithm stinks every other feature doesn't matter. I had the nuvi 660 for > 3 years and although it was basic by today's standards, it was pretty good at plotti..."

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