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August 8, 2009

Garmin nuvi 1490T Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4.5 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

Verdict: Bigger, Brighter, Louder, Faster...Better

Garmin nuvi 1490T Review

What's in the Box 3D Junction View Measuring Screen Brightness


  • Noticeably faster to use than previous nuvi models
  • Large, bright 5-inch screen makes things easy to see while driving
  • Internal speaker is 35% louder than other Garmin nuvis
  • Virtually identical to the nuvi 1390T, but with a larger screen and support for Routes (multi-destination trips)


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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Software Versions - nuvi 1490T
Testing Notes: This review was written using a production, retail boxed version. Garmin's WebUpdater was run to bring the software up to the current version as of this writing, version 3.40.

The unit was testing over several days of real-world driving, both on highways as well as back roads.

Table of Contents

  1. Features & Specifications
  2. What's in the Box
  3. The 1490T's 5-Inch Screen
  4. Screen Brightness
  5. Speaker Volume
  6. Installing the nuvi 1490T in A Car
  7. Navigating with the nuvi 1490T
  8. Using the nuvi 1490T in Pedestrian Mode
  9. Finding A Street Address
  10. Finding A Restaurant
  11. Favorites
  12. Routes (Multi-Destination Trips)
  13. Traffic
  14. ecoRoute
  15. Bluetooth
  16. Navigating to A Set of Coordinates
  17. Where Am I? / Saving Your Current Location
  18. Setting Your HOME Address
  19. Night Mode
  20. Creating Routes on A PC & Sending Them To The GPS
  21. Keeping the nuvi 1490T Up-To-Date
  22. Nuvi 5000 vs. nuvi 1490T
  23. Pros
  24. Cons
  25. Conclusion

1. Features & Specifications

  1300 1350 1350T 1370T 1390T 1490T
Screen Size 4.3" 4.3" 4.3" 4.3" 4.3" 5"
Mapping Coverage Lower 48 NA NA NA, EU NA NA
Lane Assist No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Junction View No No No No Yes Yes
Traffic Add-on Add-on Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multi-Stop Routes No No No No No Yes
Bluetooth No No No No Yes Yes
Price (Retail) $249 $299 $349 $449 $399 $499


  • 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)
  • Up to 10 saved Routes
  • Multi-destination routing with route optimization (sorts multiple stops by distance)
  • 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: 5.4"W x 3.4"H x .6"D (13.7 x 8.6 x 1.6 cm)
Display size, WxH: 4.4"W x 2.5"H (11.1 x 6.3 cm); 5.0" diag (12.7 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
Weight: 7.8 ounces (221.1 g)
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 3 hours
Waypoints/favorites/locations: 1000
Routes: 10
Accepts data cards: microSD

2. What's in the Box

Garmin nuvi 1490T, Retail Box
Figure 1: Garmin nuvi 1490T, Retail Box

What's In The Box
Figure 2: What's In The Box

Garmin's nuvi 1490T ships with the following items in the box:

  • Garmin nuvi 1490T
  • 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 1490T, Front
Figure 3: Garmin nuvi 1490T, Front

Physically, the 1490T looks almost identical to the 1390T, just a little bigger thanks to the 1490T's 5-inch display. 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 button located on the top of the device, there are no physical controls on the nuvi 1490T. All operations are performed via the touchscreen interface.

Garmin nuvi 1490T, Rear
Figure 4: Garmin nuvi 1490T, Rear

A single speaker is located at the rear of the 1490T, as is the mini-USB connector. The USB connector is used both for power, and for connecting the nuvi to a PC/Mac.

Garmin nuvi 1490T, Side
Figure 5: Garmin nuvi 1490T, Side

The nuvi 1490T is about 35% thinner than previous Garmin nuvis, measuring about a half an inch thick.

A microSD card slot is located on the left side of the 1490T. Mapping data for the USA and Canada is pre-loaded on the internal memory, so you'll only need to use a microSD card if you want load additional maps or store lots of photos.

The 1490T has 2 GB of internal memory, of which approximately 140 MB is unused and available to store photos, routes, etc. Should you need more space than that (i.e. to store additional maps), a microSD card can be used for storage.

Garmin nuvi 1490T, Top
Figure 6: Garmin nuvi 1490T, Top

The power button is located on the top of the 1490T. Press this button to turn the device on or off.

Garmin nuvi 1490T, Bottom
Figure 7: Garmin nuvi 1490T, Bottom

Suction-Cup Mount and Cradle
Figure 8: Suction-Cup Mount and Cradle

The nuvi 1490 includes a suction-cup style windshield mount. The cradle (shown above on the right) snaps onto the tip of the mount (shown above, left), forming a ball and socket joint that can easily be rotated into the desired viewing angle.

Attaching the Cradle to the Mount
Figure 9: 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 1490T, Docked
Figure 10: nuvi 1490T, 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 1490T, Docked
Figure 11: nuvi 1490T, 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. It's easy to adjust the viewing angle with one hand, and without having to turn any knobs or slip any levers.

nuvi 1490T, Docked
Figure 12: nuvi 1490T, Docked

One minor grievance with the nuvi 1490's mount: unlike the nuvi 7x5 windshield mounts, the 1490Ts' 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 take the 1490T in or out of the car.

Notice that the vehicle power cable has an integrated FM traffic receiver. The 1490T includes free (ad supported) lifetime traffic service, as indicated by the 'T' in the 1490T's model number.
Traffic Receiver, Explained
Figure 13: 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 14: Adhesive Mounting Disc

An adhesive mounting disc is included for those looking to mount the nuvi 1490T on the dashboard rather than the windshield. I'm personally not a fan of this method, as it can be 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 quickly be removed when leaving the car unattended.

USB Cable
Figure 15: USB Cable

A standard USB cable is included, and can be used to connect the nuvi 1490T to a PC or Mac, as well as charge the battery.