10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1695 vs TomTom XL - a big FAIL for the Garmin, I'm afraid...,
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This review is from: Garmin NuLink! 1695 5" Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe Maps, Live Services and Traffic, and Bluetooth (Electronics)
My original sat nav, the TomTom XL IQ Routes, was an unwanted birthday present, hence the moment of awkwardness upon receipt of a present I didn't really want... but... given my really quite appalling sense of direction, I became very grateful very quickly, as my driving experience was completely transformed.
That was in 2009; the TomTom had to be replaced by a Garmin because it claimed to have "full" coverage of more of Eastern Europe then the TomTom (who had informed me that full coverage of Eastern Europe wasn't on the cards at any time soon). I visit family in Serbia with my 7 year old daughter 3 - 4 times a year, and it's extremely nerve wrecking driving on the wrong (right?) side of the road, with a map in one hand (only vaguely useful, maybe for the odd land mark, since street signs are apparently unnecessary in Serbia), a compass to establish general direction of travel, and a child in the car - all this whilst being tailgated, cut up, and hooted at by some of the worst drivers in Europe.
But the Garmin was tested in the UK first, so a good comparison can be made against the TomTom; the Serbian Garmin experience is at the end as it won't concern everyone.
Once out of the box, I plugged it into my laptop, logged onto their website uploaded the latest maps I needed, and off on the first journey. One positive point is that it picks up the satellite pretty much immediately, whereas the TomTom sometimes takes 2 - 3 minutes.
Another positive is the traffic updates - seems to work well in the UK and immediately gives you the option to detour the traffic jam.
Screen layout - bits of information all over the screen, looks very messy. Customisable, but not enough. Big blue stripe across the top, with the road name you're on at that moment which takes up about 10 - 12% of the screen - to me this is utterly pointless and a waste of space, apparently it's not possible to remove this from the view. On the TomTom everything is neatly laid out along the bottom of the screen, and more information is available to view despite the smaller screen.
Map aesthetics - the map on my sat navs is set to a 'track up' view. The map on a Garmin looks very ugly, a bit like a sketch knocked up on a basic graphics application. The route is marked by a bright pink line with no arrows for direction along the route, whereas the TomTom's map looks MUCH slicker and cleaner in comparison, the colours are not garish but still contrast nicely, and the TomTom's equivalent to Garmin's pink line, are arrows pointing out the route - this may seem irrelevant but don't forget that the map on my sat navs is set to a 'track up' view, which is like looking at a physical map (as opposed to a 3D view), so the direction of travel along the route is important when, for example, getting lost in spaghetti junctions - when I got caught up in one in Belgrade, all I saw on the Garmin screen were a bunch of pink lines crossing each other.
If an exit is missed off a motorway, it takes quite a while for the Garmin to readjust and get round to recalculating the route, whereas the TomTom seems more pinpointed - it knows almost immediately that you've missed an exit and readjusts. When a sharper turn is missed at lower speeds, it's definitely slower then the TomTom to recalculate and reroute, and if a road is found which is very close, I've usually passed the road by the time Garmin notifies me to turn.
A massive bad mark, is that once the route is set, whilst there is a 'detour' option, it doesn't seem to be possible to choose which part of the route to avoid, whereas on the TomTom, there is a clear 'avoid part of the route' option on the menu which lists all the roads along the route, and you can remove accordingly.
Voice - sounds like something synthesised on an 80's PC and seems incapable of pronouncing the English road names (thankfully, it doesn't even try to pronounce the Serbian road names). A massively irritating aspect of the Garmin voice is that when a turn is missed and it's 'recalculating', it keeps telling you that it's "recalculating"; when you're on a road not mapped by Garmin, it's "recalculating" every minute or two.
There is a pedestrian navigation option on the Garmin, however it's not possible to flip the screen so that the device can be held upright, (like a mobile phone, or in 'portrait' view), and for this purpose, I think it's too bulky to be held in the usual 'landscape' position.
With reference to the "full" coverage of some of Eastern Europe, full coverage of Serbia is certainly complete nonsense. I used this extensively in Belgrade, and it's average - there are streets which are clearly old but not mapped. Forget about the one way streets - I was led the wrong way down numerous one way streets, lucky the Belgrade drivers are pretty lax about this and managed to dodge me successfully without verbally or otherwise abusing me. Out of Belgrade (information from hereon is very specific, so you may want to skip the rest of this), I was trying to get to Zajecar from Bor - the road I took wasn't mapped at all, and this was the quickest and best road (about 4 years old, but surely old enough to be mapped?). Zajecar is very badly mapped - half the town was missing. We also drove to Mt Stol near Bor, and practically the whole road from Bor to Stol was unmapped. So, extremely disappointed with the "full" coverage of Serbia; I'd have liked to be a bit more adventurous with scenic routes etc. but there is absolutely no way that the mapping on this device inspires the slightest bit of confidence. And to rub salt into the wound, the traffic and weather do not work here!
Needless to say, this device is a huge disappointment, and is way too overpriced even with the better (but still unacceptably inadequate) Eastern Europe coverage. In terms of interface and ease of use, TomTom wins... although, I'm quite astounded that neither Garmin or TomTom can get their act together and provide decent mapping for more unusual places, when Google have managed to map the whole planet in a short space of time. So whilst I wait for the stand alone Google sat nav... I'm keeping the TomTom, and the Garmin will be returned to manufacturer if they can't provide a product which does what it's supposed to.