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June 19, 2009

Garmin nuvi 1390T Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

Verdict: Great for City Folk

Garmin nuvi 1390T Review
nuvi 1390T Main Menu nuvi 1390T Map Screen Usage Modes


  • 25% thinner than previous nuvi models
  • Optional $9.99 (per city) cityXplorer maps offer enhanced pedestrian mode that lets you navigate city public transit
  • Unless you really care about pedestrian navigation, the nuvi 765T offers more features for less money


Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author. I recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision.

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Table of Contents

  1. Features & Specifications
  2. What's in the Box? (Unboxing)
  3. Installing the nuvi 1390T in the Car
  4. Navigating with the nuvi 1390T
  5. Using the nuvi 1390T in Pedestrian Mode
  6. Finding A Street Address
  7. Finding A Restaurant (Searching for POIs)
  8. Saving Your HOME Address
  9. Favorites
  10. Traffic
  11. Night Mode
  12. Navigating to A Set of Coordinates
  13. Where Am I? / Saving Your Current Location
  14. Bluetooth
  15. ecoRoute
  16. World Clock
  17. Pros
  18. Cons
  19. Conclusion

1. Features & Specifications

Garmin has released five new 1300-series nuvis, ranging from the least expensive nuvi 1300 to the higher-end nuvi 1390T. The chart below summarizes the differences between the models:

  nuvi 1300 nuvi 1350 nuvi 1350T nuvi 1370T nuvi 1390T
Screen Size 4.3" 4.3" 4.3" 4.3" 4.3"
Mapping Coverage Lower 48 States Full USA & Canada Full USA & Canada USA, Canada & Europe Full USA & Canada
Lane Assist No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Junction View No No No No Yes
Traffic Add-on Add-on Lifetime Included Lifetime Included Lifetime Included
Bluetooth No No No Yes Yes
Price (Retail) $249.99 $299.99 $349.99 $449.99 $399.99


  • Text-to-speech (speaks actual street names)
  • Lane Assist (guides you to the proper lane for navigation)
  • Junction View (displays 3D rendering of highway intersections (where available)
  • Bluetooth for hands-free calling
  • MSN Direct compatible (requires optional MSN Direct receiver)
  • Traffic (includes FM traffic receiver and free lifetime service)
  • Speed limit indicator (displays speed limit for most major roads)
  • ecoRoute (calculates a more fuel-efficient route)
  • QWERTY or ABC keyboard
  • Ability to load custom POIs
  • Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos)
  • World travel clock, currency & unit converter, calculator
  • Picture viewer

Technical Specifications

Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 4.8"W x 2.9"H x .6"D (12.2 x 7.5 x 1.6 cm)
Display size, WxH: 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
Weight: 5.7 ounces (161.6 g)
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 4 hours
Waypoints/favorites/locations: 1000

2. What's in the Box? (Unboxing)

Garmin nuvi 1390T, Retail Box
Figure 1: Garmin nuvi 1390T, Retail Box

Everything That's Included In The Box
Figure 2: Everything That's Included In The Box

Garmin's nuvi 1390T ships with the following items in the box:

  • Garmin nuvi 1370T
  • Preloaded City Navigator North America NT
  • Vehicle suction cup mount
  • FM traffic receiver/vehicle power cable
  • USB cable
  • Dashboard disc
  • Quick start manual

Garmin nuvi 1390T, Front
Figure 3: Garmin nuvi 1390T, Front

Like other recent Garmin nuvis, the 1390T retains the same basic shape and design found on other 200 and 700 series models: the 4.3-inch WQVGA (480 x 272 Pixels) color touchscreen display is framed by a casing constructed of matte and glossy black plastic.

Except for the power switch located on the top of the device, there are no physical controls on the nuvi 1390T. All operations are performed via the touchscreen interface.

Garmin nuvi 1390T, Rear
Figure 4: Garmin nuvi 1390T, Rear

A single speaker is located at the rear of the 1390T, as is the mini-USB connector, used both for power and connecting the nuvi to a PC/Mac.

Like other Garmin nuvi models, the nuvi 1390T has an internal GPS antenna instead of the fold-out style patch antenna used on the older 300 and 600-series nuvis.

Garmin nuvi 1390T, Side
Figure 5: Garmin nuvi 1390T, Side

The nuvi 1390T is about 35% thinner than previous Garmin nuvis, measuring just over a half an inch thick.

A microSD card slot is located on the left side of the 1390T. Mapping data for the USA and Canada is stored on the internal memory, and most users probably won't make use of the microSD card slot, provided for additional flexibility when loading additional maps, or storing photos.

Garmin nuvi 1390T, Top
Figure 6: Garmin nuvi 1390T, Top

The power button is located on the top of the 1390T. Press this button to turn the device on or off.

Garmin nuvi 1390T, Bottom
Figure 7: Garmin nuvi 1390T, Bottom

Windshield Suction Cup Mount
Figure 8: Windshield Suction Cup Mount

Suction-Cup Mount and Cradle
Figure 9: Suction-Cup Mount and Cradle

The nuvi 1390 is mounted to the vehicle's windshield using a suction-cup mount and cradle. The cradle snaps onto the end of the mount, forming a ball and socket joint that can easily be rotated into the desired viewing angle.

Attaching the Cradle to the Mount
Figure 10: Attaching the Cradle to the Mount

The cradle has a socket in the rear that snaps onto the tip of the suction cup mount. Connecting the cradle to the mount is simply a matter of pressing the cradle firmly onto the mount until the ball snaps into the socket.

Removing the cradle is equally easy: twist it to the right or left until it snaps off the mount.

nuvi 1390T, Docked
Figure 11: nuvi 1390T, Docked

This ball-and-socket style mount is easy to use, holds up well against normal wear and tear, and keeps the GPS firmly in place while driving.

nuvi 1390T, Docked
Figure 12: nuvi 1390T, Docked

Garmin's mounting hardware is excellent. The windshield mount holds the nuvi firmly in place and vibration-free when driving, even at highway speeds. The ball-and-socket joint on the windshield mount makes it easy to adjust the nuvi's viewing angle with one hand, and without having to turn any knobs or slip any levers.


Figure 13: nuvi 1390T, Docked

One minor grievance with the nuvi 1390's mount: unlike the nuvi 7x5 windshield mounts, the nuvi 1390Ts' windshield mount isn't powered. That means you'll have to connect the 12v power cable to the GPS's mini-USB plug on the back of the device each time you mount the 1390T in the car.

Notice that the vehicle power cable has an integrated FM traffic receiver. The 1390T includes free (ad supported) lifetime traffic service, as indicated by the 'T' in the 1390T's model number.

Traffic Receiver, Explained
Figure 14: Traffic Receiver, Explained

The included traffic receiver provides free, ad-based traffic information that doesn't require a subscription. The receiver is integrated into the power adapter, so you don't have to worry about connecting any additional wires or antennae to receive traffic data.

Adhesive Mounting Disc
Figure 15: Adhesive Mounting Disc

An adhesive mounting disc is included for those looking to mount the nuvi 1390T on the dashboard rather than the windshield. I'm personally not a big fan of this method, as it's difficult to remove the mounting disc later without damaging your car.

FYI - a better option is to use a friction mount, as it's less permanent and can easily be concealed when leaving the car unattended.

USB Cable
Figure 16: USB Cable

A standard USB cable is included, and can be used to connect the nuvi 1390T to a PC or Mac, as well as charge the battery.