« CES 2013: Garmin Announces 2013 nuvi Models | Main


January 8, 2013

CES 2013: Hands-On with Garmin's nuvi 3597 LMTHD

This is Garmin's newest top-of-the-line navigator for 2013: meet the nuvi 3597 LMTHD.

I had the opportunity to hold and play with it at CES, and here's my take:

This is the nicest looking Garmin to date. The brushed metal case and high-quality 5-inch glass touchscreen do indeed feel "premium". The updated map display is easier to read, as the upcoming turn indicator, current road, distance to turn, traffic indicator, and current road name have all been optimized for easier viewing while driving.

The new powered magnetic mount (shown below) is awesome. you can literally snap the GPS to the mount with your eyes closed -- this feels somewhat similar to Apple's magnetic power cord adapters used on Mac laptops.

Garmin's new Real Directions feels like a bit of a gimmick, though under certain conditions I can see how it might be easier to hear "turn left at the Starbucks" rather than a road name.

The new Active Lane Guidance (shown below) is a nice update to the previous upcoming turn graphic (previously known as Advanced Lane Guidance). Now, instead of just seeing a split screen with an arrow in the lane, you see a nice animation that clearly shows which lane you should be driving in.

HD Digital Traffic updates should be more accurate and better coverage than previous FM traffic receivers.

PhotoReal and Bird's Eye Junction Views - these are actually very useful; when approaching highway interchanges, the nuvi displays a photo-realistic view of the turn, as well as a bird's eye overhead view of the interchange, with an arrow painting the route you're going to take. This sounds like a minor feature, but it actually makes complex highway maneuvers much easier to navigate.

Voice Activated Navigation - in the roar of CES, this was hard to accurately demo. I don't imagine I'd personally be using my voice to operate the nuvi, though some users may find this feature more useful.

Smarphone Link - Download the free app on to your android or iPhone and you can exchange information between your phone and the GPS (ie "where did I park the car"?). You can also use your Smartphone's data connectivity to access Garmin's Live Services (fuel prices, weather).

Up Ahead - long available on most Magellan GPS models, Garmin's new Up Ahead feature lets you see what restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and stores are available at approaching highway exits. This feature looks nicely implemented, with a neat insert that appears on the right hand side of the map as you're driving -- so less menu navigating to see what's ahead.

3D Buildings & Terrain - This pretty much looks the same as it does on earlier nuvi models, and I'm still not convinced this feature actually helps navigation much. It looks neat, though.

Conclusion: Feels like a great PND, and that's good news for Garmin, as the company faces stiff competition from smartphones and less expensive PNDs flooding the market. The nuvi 3597 is expected to retail for $299, available for purchase in March.

Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Active Lane Guidance
Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Active Lane Guidance

Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Magnetic Mount
Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Magnetic Mount

Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Magnetic Mount
Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Magnetic Mount

Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Main Menu
Garmin nuvi 3597 LMTHD: Main Menu