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June 19, 2009

Garmin nuvi 1390T Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4 of 5
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10. Traffic

Traffic Alert Displayed on the Map
Figure 67: Traffic Alert Displayed on the Map

The nuvi 1390T includes free traffic service for the life of the device, as indicated by the "T" in the nuvi model number. The catch? It's ad-supported, which means advertisements will periodically appear while using the GPS. The good news is that's not nearly as bad as it sounds, and I didn't find the ads terribly distracting or annoying.

Realtime traffic data allows the nuvi 1390T to evaluate current traffic conditions and automatically optimizes the route for the shortest time. If a severe traffic delay occurs on your route while driving to the destination, the nuvi 1390T automatically recalculates a new route to avoid the problem.

Traffic Warning Icons
Figure 68: Traffic Warning Icons

If a traffic alert is received that will impact the planned route, the traffic icon changes color to indicate the severity of the traffic conditions on your route:

  • Green = Traffic is flowing normally
  • Yellow = Traffic is slightly congested
  • Red = Traffic is heavily congested or stopped

The traffic icon also displays how much time the delay has added to the trip. Non-severe traffic alerts won't cause the nuvi to re-calculate and find an alternate route, but you can still see how much of a delay the traffic will cause.

Tapping the traffic icon on the Map brings up the Traffic page, shown below.

Traffic Page
Figure 69: Traffic Page

The Traffic page allows you to view traffic conditions the following ways:

  • Show Traffic Map - displays traffic conditions on the map. You can manually scroll around and see all traffic incidents on the map
  • Traffic Search - lists all traffic delays that have been received, sorted by distance from your current location
  • Traffic on Route - displays the traffic incidents along the current planned route

Traffic Search
Figure 70: Traffic Search

Touching Traffic Search displays a list of all traffic alerts that have been received, listed in order of closeness to your location. More details can be viewed for each incident by tapping on the alert.

Traffic Incident Details
Figure 71: Traffic Incident Details

The nuvi 1390T automatically attempts to avoid severe traffic when an alert is received. However, you can also manually avoid certain traffic conditions by touching Avoid on the details page for a given incident. Unfortunately there's no way to manually exclude a specific road from the route.

Traffic Event Details
Figure 72: Traffic Event Details

Where available, additional details are displayed about any traffic events the nuvi 1390T receives.

Ad Displayed on Main Menu
Figure 73: Ad Displayed on Main Menu

Ads occasionally appeared on the Main Menu in a small, horizontal blue box across the top of the screen. They seemed to only appear once per trip, when the unit was first powered on, and never appeared on the Main Menu again until the unit was powered off and on again.

Traffic Service on the nuvi 1390T vs 765T
Figure 74: Traffic Service on the nuvi 1390T vs 765T

On a recent trip from New York to Massachusetts, I compared the traffic service on the nuvi 1390T to that of the 765T. Interestingly, I found that the 765T, which includes a different FM traffic receiver than the 1390T, had significantly better reception than the 1390T.

Figure 74 above shows the nuvi 1390T receiving no traffic data, while the nuvi 765T does.

Poor Traffic Reception
Figure 75: Poor Traffic Reception

During the same test drive from New York City to Boston, MA, the nuvi 1390T received no traffic data for more than an hour. The nuvi 765T maintained traffic service reception almost uninterrupted during that same time.

It's possible this is just a pre-production firmware bug that will be resolved via a free software update, but at the time of this writing, the 1390T's traffic reception sensitivity was not as good as the nuvi 765T's.