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Good for basic usage but advance planning of routes is awkward
on 18 August 2009
I have had the Nuvi 1240 for two weeks now. It was sent from Germany but, with standard postage, arrived within three days of the Amazon order.
There is minimal documentation and no software CD in the package so expect to find yourself on the Garmin web site very soon in order to get the PDF documentation and to download the system upgrading software and maps management software.
I had some problems with the unit turning itself off when re-routing (possibly when avoiding U-turns) but this appears to have been resolved by the latest online software upgrade (v2.70) which was painless to install. A mini-USB cable is required for the software upgrade (not supplied).
The Garmin maps updater software reported that the Navteq maps were already the latest available for this model (CN Europe NT 2010.10).
Start-up is around 25 seconds. Satellite lock seemed to vary considerably but, in ideal conditions, seemed to be around 30-40 seconds from 'on'.
Battery life is reported to be around four hours but for me it was less than three hours with lots of routing and the screen brightness at 50%.
The basic navigation from current location is very intuitive. Press the "Where to?" icon and choose a destination from Home, favourites, POI, point on map, recent locations, junction, city or coordinates.
Alternatively, press the "View map" icon and you are in a 3D-style navigation view. From here, a screen press will bring up a bird's-eye map view and you may then select a point on the map and press "Go". The map scrolling is done quite nicely with speed sensitivity so that a quick flick of the finger causes the map to scroll further.
Select routing for speed, time, less fuel or off-road. Optional avoidances include U-turns, motorways, tolls, ferries, car-share lanes, unpaved roads and traffic if you are using the traffic data receiver add-on. There is a simple-to-use 'Detour' option that seems to assume that the detour is immediately in front of you.
During turn-by-turn navigation, I found the voice prompts to be very timely for making each manoeuvre and of good quality. The feedback also speaks the names of the roads (using text-to-speech) -- nice!
The display can include the current speed restriction and I found this to be helpful and the boundaries very accurate (in England and Wales anyway).
A "Where Am I?" feature is helpful if looking for petrol, emergency services, nearest junction or just the position coordinates.
The POIs that are built in are very comprehensive and were a pleasant surprise bonus.
For me, the weakness is when you want to plan a route ahead of time. If you are familiar with TomTom then you may find the presetting of a route on the Nuvi 1240 very awkward; it is necessary to go into "GPS Simulator" mode, which disables satellite reception, and then to set your location by selecting a "Where to?" point, and only then can you select a destination. This is clunky when compared to the "Advance planning" and routing by map points features on TomTom and can require a lot of scrolling and zooming of the map if you want to enter multiple waypoints in order to force a preferred route. Futhermore, you cannot save the route that you carefully constructed so you must not start another route. If only there was a way of forcing the route to change by dragging points onto other roads in the way that Google Maps allows... it can't be that hard to implement. Add a "Save route" feature too.
Overall, I am slightly disgruntled with the Nuvi 1240. For the price it is nice to get maps for Western Europe but, in making a simple-to-use interface, I think there has been too much compromise on what I consider to be basic route-planning features. Having said that, for what it does do, it is done well.
P.S Be sure to get the software upgrade and map updates ASAP!