on 16 October 2012
Product arrived two days before I left for Canada. Was apprehensive about buying a 'Newly Overhauled' product, but chose it because of the heavily discounted price and the amount the Canadian Car Hire company wanted for a weeks hire of a Sat Nav. My worrys were unfounded. Product worked perfectly, paid for itself within a couple of days, and got me and my mum around 2000+km's of driving in Ontario. The bulk of this was rural driving, visiting mainly small towns, so I can't comment on how it would have behaved in big cities.
The unit got us everywhere that we needed to go. Post codes seemed to be the best option for routing, and the 'via' option worked very well. It did appear to only give distances / times to final destination when also going via somewhere else.
Change of Route
Not sure if it has a setting to avoid toll roads, but having spotted the 'ETR' references on the 'next road' description, I managed (just) to avoid them, and the Nuvi was great at quick recalculations of a route where I had chosen not take one of the suggested turns. It would usually initially suggest turning around within a short distance (to pick up the original route), but very quickly realised you wanted to go a different way and would automatically recalculate a new route.
Much to my amazement, when stuck on Highway 400 in stationary traffic, heading south towards Toronto, the unit told me that due to delays (which it actually showed in minutes on the screen), it was calculating an alternative route. Managing to squeeze across three lanes in a short distance to take the exit it suggested, we were taken through some of the expensive suburbs of Toronto, as a much preferred alternative to the traffic jam.
Would have been useful if it would have displayed both distance and time to destination but appeared to only allow one or other. Road routing was clear enough. It did at times 'zoom in' on junctions when getting within a certain distance, but not sure what the trigger for this was, as it did not always appear to do it.
Suction pad attachement for the windscreen was great, and cable was long enough to have it plugged into cigarette lighter between the seats.
The voice giving out directions was very clear and seemed to give plenty of warning when next turn was required. The electronic voice can get a bit agitated if you choose to take your own directions rather than the ones proposed. If you want to take a drive round some back streets, switch it off for a bit.
Tried using the Fuel option, for it to highlight the nearest Petrol/Gas stations. It would highlight the nearest 4 (and you could select one to reroute to that one) but it never actually highlighted the stations that I was in the vicinity of. Perhaps database needed updating.
One word of warning. I first switched it on in the underground car park at the car rental at Toronto Pearson Airport when picking up the car. It failed to track satellites, and I expected that it would automatically pick them up once I left the car park. It did not do this, even when I switched the unit off and on again. By this time I had to make random road selections and ended up heading away from the airport certainly not in the right direction. When I eventually managed to get off the road to stop the car, it turned out that I needed to not only switch the unit off, but to actually disconnect the power cable from the cigarette lighter. As soon as I did this and powered it up again (connected to the cigarette lighter), it immediately picked up the satellites. I had been getting worried about my 'Newly Overhauled' product.
on 21 August 2012
I bought the earlier, much reviewed, 1370T version in April 2012. I chose it because it had USA as well as European maps and I had been greatly helped by a comparable US model in California in March. I had previously owned a top-of-the-line Tomtom, (voice recognition etc) which had abruptly stopped working on an Italian motorway soon after I had paid expensively for an updated set of maps. This has everything one needs--very clear voice guidance with street names, full screen information, and remarkably detailed maps. It has had very little difficulty in adjusting continents, although for a time it kept trying to work out the best route from its home base in Killiney (Ireland) to Denver, Colorado. As one reviewer notes, the recalculating feature is extremely rapid. But this has its downside. Tomtom told one to "turn around when possible". Garmin never does--as we discovered when having carelessly missed the entrance to a motorway we were taken several miles through small Somerset lanes and virtually through farmyards before coming back to a point where we could have easily turned round. Similarly in Colorado, coming out of the wrong exit to a carpark and pointing the wrong way, it told us to continue straight on for 10 miles, rather than making the first available U-turn and re-entering the freeway we had left for some fast food, about 200 yards behind us. A satnav never fully eliminates the need for maps.
on 9 November 2012
Since my ex-partner passed her driving test in March, we had been sharing a Nuvi 255W (European maps - also bought reconditioned) so with my upcoming trip to Canada and USA on the horizon, it seemed more logical to buy another satnav with North American maps than to update the existing one (especially with the car hire company wanting more than $10 per day to supply a satnav with the vehicle). Among the updates on this model are bluetooth, lane assist and traffic alerts, plus vocal announcement of road names. Other updates are that the speed shown on screen now goes red when exceeding the speed limit (not that I would know) and the casing also has a slightly rubbery edge, presumably to make the unit more shock resistant if dropped.
I was slightly annoyed that, on attempting to obtain my one-time update from Garmin, I was informed that the unit had insufficient memory for the update and that I had to buy an SD card before I could complete the update; that said, the SD card (16GB is the maximum this unit will support and probably much more than anyone will ever need) was cheap and arrived within 2 days, so the update of both European and North American maps was otherwise simple and relatively quick (I left the unit updating overnight).
The updated features do prove useful, especially the bluetooth: telephone reception is clear and constant (most of the time) and the only gripe I do have is that sometimes the unit does not show the phonebook from my mobile, meaning that I'm unable to make a hands-free outgoing call - I am wondering if repairing (pairing is extremely simple and instant, as is setting up the handset to connect automatically) would resolve this problem, but haven't got around to doing that yet. Lane assist comes in the form of a small diagram on the top-left of the screen, showing a number of lanes and highlighting the one(s) required, which appears 2 miles before the junction, except on motorways where it appears a mile earlier; I found this most useful on some US interstates at which there would be seven or eight lanes, of which only two led where I wanted to go but also felt that it should appear in some areas where it doesn't and I would also like it to appear on the approach to some of the more complicated roundabouts or gyratory systems etc.
Traffic alerts are given in the form of a diagram showing 2 cars, just below the top left hand-corner of the screen which change colour according to the conditions: green for zero delay, amber for a delay of 1-4 minutes and red for a delay of 5 minutes or more (with the length of delay also displayed in minutes). Whilst approaching Toronto one evening, the satnav did announce that it would recalculate because of traffic (delay shown was 5 minutes) but failed to find a quicker route before the delay reduced to zero; also, when approaching Newark NJ, the satnav showed a delay of 6 minutes on the New Jersey Turnpike, which subsequently reduced to zero, although when I left the turnpike, I did hit traffic which delayed me for almost exactly six minutes. A similar thing happened approaching Chantilly VA, which prompts me to believe that, in the USA at least, the free traffic reports only cover certain points on the journey and that one might find delays elsewhere on the route which are not advised. It should be noted that free traffic alerts are not available in the UK and a premium subscription is required.
With regard to the announcement of street names, one problem I always had with the 255W was that it would display a streetname rather than the road number (e.g. Grantham Road rather than A52) which can be awkward at multi-junction roundabouts; with the 1370T, it sometimes (although not always) gives different information to the display (e.g. display states "Grantham Road" but the voice announcement is "A52"), which can be very useful. Another improvement is that the newer unit usually (again not always) gives more detailed information on junctions - whereas the old unit would tell me to leave the motorway at junction x then wait until I had done so before giving the next instruction, what I hear now is more like "exit 28 on left then enter roundabout and take 2nd exit", which is much more helpful in finding the right lane on the sliproad.
As with the 255W, there are a number of different settings for navigation - fastest, shortest, most economical or even off-road route (the pedestrian setting with its close-up focus can be very useful, although I haven't downloaded the optional "city navigator" maps which will give routes including public transport); avoidances, including U-turns, toll roads, motorways, traffic etc. (u-turn and traffic avoidances are default settings) plus points of interest, which finds fuel (although it does list my local Tesco as having fuel, which it doesn't), food, shops, cashpoints, local attractions and more - very useful on deserted highways in upstate New York! Out of curiosity, I checked "shopping" in the middle of Sutton-in-Ashfield and was amazed that it listed almost every shop there (not just the major chains). There are also symbols on screen when in towns, showing major supermarkets, banks and other useful information - just touch a symbol for more information (although in some places, e.g. London, this is near-impossible since the screen is so busy with overlapping symbols that finding the right one can be challenging). The "cyclops" camera database is also very useful and accurate.
So why am I giving the 1370T four stars and not five? I have discovered that occasionally the unit will freeze, usually during motorway roadworks when "bonging" constantly for multiple speed cameras; when this happens, I have to re-set the route to free things up. Also, an old unbranded satnav I once had (which I had to discard as no updated maps were available) showed detailed junction diagrams and I would prefer these to lane assist; I would like the option to view distance and time to destination, not just one or the other. With regard to the time to destination display, all Garmin satnavs seem to assume that the driver is driving close to the speed limit (I think it calculates at somewhere around 90% of speed limit) and does not need to reduce speed for roundabouts, traffic lights etc.; this means that, for instance, when driving through London, it is necessary to add at least 30 minutes to the eta in order to arrive on time. I would prefer the time calculation to take into account average traffic delays for certain cities, or to recognise the presence of traffic lights - it seems that the Nuvi is aware of traffic conditions as it seems to give different routes for the same journey according to the time of day! Also, since there is an option to avoid tolls, it would be good to know what tolls are involved: while driving in the USA, I noticed that setting a route from Buffalo to Toronto whilst avoiding tolls added 14 hours to the journey (which I only noticed because the satnav has a 24-hour clock), while my route from Newark NJ to Chantilly VA totalled $23 in tolls which could probably have been avoided (I subsequently used the "toll free" setting except for re-entering Canada and paid only $3 more but added a total of one-and-a-half hours to journey times in three days of driving). I also dislike that most routes start with "please drive to highlighted route" when it isn't always clear where the highlighted route is when one doesn't know the area - I have tried more often than not to find the highlighted route, only to be told that the satnav is "recalculating", for which the subtext is that I was too stupid to read the map properly! With these improvements made, this could be the perfect unit!
That said, this satnav guided me around Canada and eight states (nine if one includes DC) of the USA without a hitch, rurally or around town, more than 2,100 miles in a week; I moved house recently and it was the 1370T which showed me where the nearest supermarkets - and the shortcuts to them - and petrol stations are, not to mention getting me home (I'm in a rural village) during those first few days when I wasn't quite sure where I lived. If I miss a turning (or choose not to take one), recalculations are almost instant and the "detour" option is a very handy way of finding an alternative route, for whatever reason a diversion might be desired (note that pressing "detour" twice does not offer a 2nd alternative route but reassigns the original route). I also like that I can leave the unit connected but switched off at motorway services and my journey continues as soon as the unit is switched back on (this doesn't always apply when vehicles cut power to the 12v socket when the ignition is off, although it does have short-term memory retention); however, if the unit does need to be reset mid-journey, the last destination entered is always at the top of the recently-found list. Being able to enter via-points is also very useful (e.g. entering a petrol station, which can be done from the P-O-I screen, as a via point on the journey) although the unit does not sort multiple via points into the shortest route.
All in all, this is a very useful piece of kit, extremely simple to use (although it helps to remember if you change the settings for a temporary reason) and reliable with its information (notwithstanding that any UK road map will be out-of-date before its published!), not without its gremlins and annoyances (is there such a thing as a satnav which isn't annoying at times?) but better than most and reasonably priced. It is worth getting to know the settings and options available to optimise the usefulness of this machine, after which you may wonder how you ever lived without it!