In terms of its overall style, the Garmin Nuvi 1690 takes its cues from the Garmin playbook and blings it up with chrome and piano black to a level appropriate for a top-end GPS unit. With the back of the device rubberised, the 1690 feels great in the hand.
The windscreen mount is the standard issue Garmin one; it folds up neatly enough and sticks gamely to the windscreen no matter what road blemishes you drive over. Disappointingly, the charging plug that fits into the cigarette lighter slot is kitted out with a blue light that sears its way into your retina at night.
With its 480x272, 4.3-inch resistive touchscreen, the 1690 doesn't break any portable navigation norms — that role's been reserved for the delectable Nuvi 3790T due in the middle of 2010. The menu system is pretty much unchanged, with two big icons — Where To? and View Map — greeting you on start up. The map screen presents its information in a driver-readable format, although the by-default removal of map detail is annoying.