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October 4, 2009

Garmin nuvi 1690 Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

Verdict: The First Connected GPS You Might Actually Buy

Garmin nuvi 1690 Review
nuLink! Weather Google Local Search Google Local Search Results


  • Combines Garmin's familiar nuvi experience with suite of connected services
  • Includes 2-years of free wireless connectivity. $5/month after that
  • Feature-wise, virtually identical to the nuvi 1490T, but with nuLink! wireless service


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. What's in the Box
  2. Screen Readability
  3. Speaker Volume / Clarity
  4. Installing the nuvi 1690 In The Car
  5. Garmin's nuLink! Connected Services
    1. Google Local Search
    2. White Pages
    3. Fuel Prices
    4. Movies Times
    5. Local Events
    6. Flight Status
    7. myGarmin
    8. Weather
    9. Ciao!
    10. Currency
  6. Navigating with the nuvi 1690
  7. Pedestrian Mode (Using the nuvi 1690 on foot)
  8. Finding A Street Address
  9. Finding A Restaurant
  10. Favorites
  11. Creating & Using Routes
  12. Traffic
  13. ecoRoute
  14. Bluetooth
  15. Navigating to A Set of Coordinates
  16. Where Am I / Saving Your Current Position
  17. Saving Your HOME Address
  18. Day / Night Modes
  19. Creating Routes on A PC & Sending Them To The GPS
  20. Pros
  21. Cons
  22. Conclusion

1. What's in the Box

What's Included In The Box
Figure 1: What's Included In The Box

Garmin's nuvi 1690 ships with the following items included in the box:

  • nuvi 1690
  • Free 2-year data subscription to Garmin nuLink! services in the U.S.
  • Preloaded City Navigator® NT (full coverage)
  • Vehicle suction cup mount
  • Vehicle power cable
  • USB cable
  • Dashboard disc
  • Quick start manual

Garmin nuvi 1690, Front
Figure 2: Garmin nuvi 1690, Front

The 4.3-inch WQVGA (480 x 272 Pixels) color touchscreen display is framed by a glossy black plastic border. The 1690's internal microphone can also be seen to the right of the display.

Physically, the 1690 is 0.1" wider and taller than Garmin's 7x5 and 2x5 nuvis, measuring 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm).

Except for the power button located on the top of the device, there are no physical controls on the nuvi 1690. All operations are performed via the touchscreen interface.

Garmin nuvi 1690, Rear
Figure 3: Garmin nuvi 1690, Rear

The 1690's internal speaker is located at the rear of the device. This speaker is slightly larger, and louder than Garmin's previous 4.3-inch GPS units. I'll review speaker loudness later in the review.

Garmin nuvi 1690, Top
Figure 4: Garmin nuvi 1690, Top

The power button is located on the top of the 1690. Press this button to turn the device on or off.

Garmin nuvi 1690, Bottom
Figure 5: Garmin nuvi 1690, Bottom

The mini-USB connector, located on the bottom of the 1690, is used for connecting the GPS to a PC or Mac.

Suction-Cup Windshield Mount
Figure 6: Suction-Cup Windshield Mount

The 1690 includes a suction-cup style windshield mount. The cradle (shown below) snaps onto the tip of the mount, forming a ball and socket joint that can easily be rotated into the desired viewing angle.


Windshield Mount
Figure 7: Windshield Mount

The vehicle power cable attaches to the mini-USB port located on the back of the docking cradle.

Powered Windshield Mount
Figure 8: Powered Windshield Mount

The 1690 includes a powered windshield mount - a nice feature that makes docking and undocking the GPS quick and painless. Once the mount is connected, simple dock the GPS and it will power up.

Note that power can be supplied either via the docking cradle, or by connecting the power cable directly to the mini-USB port on the bottom of the GPS itself.

Vehicle Power Adapter
Figure 9: Vehicle Power Adapter

The 1690 includes a standard vehicle power adapter.

Vehicle Power Adapter, Connected to the Windshield Cradle
Figure 10: Vehicle Power Adapter, Connected to the Windshield Cradle

nuvi 1690, Docked
Figure 11: nuvi 1690, 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.

Another nice benefit of Garmin's simple yet effective windshield mount is that it's easy to adjust the viewing angle with one hand, and you don't have to turn any knobs or levers.

USB Cable
Figure 12: USB Cable

A standard USB cable is included, and can be used to connect the nuvi 1690 to a PC or Mac, as well as charge the battery.

Adhesive Mounting Disc
Figure 13: Adhesive Mounting Disc

An adhesive mounting disc is included for those looking to mount the nuvi 1690 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 much better option is to use a friction mount, as it's less permanent and can quickly be removed when leaving the car unattended.