Having been a Garmin owner for about 5 years I had no doubt what brand I was going to buy, my old Garmin served me well but it was time for a new one and the wide screen was a key feature I wanted in my new one.
The screen is impressive, while going from 4.3″ to 5″ does not sound like much it is really amazing how much more map and information that fits well on the screen. The screen itself is anti-glare that works, and very bright if you want it, I have the brightness at 60% and that is fine even in bright sunlight. The images are very crisp and clear, street names and such are auto-sized to not obstruct the map but big enough to read easily. The volume when it is reading out direction is also outstanding, so loud I have it also on 60%. So a solid 5 Stars on the screen and voice volume, as well as the pronunciation of the street names!
Quirk: When I first got it I was in my office and opened it, plugged it in to just power and fired it up, it kept asking for me to agree to the license terms and no matter how I answered it rebooted itself, did this like 4 times and then was ok. This would happen each time I turned it on. Not a big issue really, as soon as it “sees” the sats it stops doing it and is fine. Little off for the scare factor, it has never done it again.
The update process is very easy but long, likely very long on a slower PC and/or slow internet connection, the map data is huge. That said it is the nature of the beast and Garmin makes it as painless as possible, the registration and update process was very slick.
Once all updated and ready to go it is time to go through the options, you don’t have to, out of the box it picks everything, but I think most will find it worth it, there are a lot of options on how you want it to find routes, deal with traffic (comes with lifetime traffic info), how you want the maps to look in many aspects, 2D, 3D, Track top to your direction or top to always north, and all kinds of additional information that can optionally be on the map screen. Out of the box Garmin has every bell and whistle turned on which I guess I understand but this is why I say it is worth getting it where you like. From the factory you will only see 4.3″ of map on route as it has 4 tabs of optional information along the right side. I wanted 5″ of map so I disabled the side tabs in settings, very nice option, you can also pick what tab is showing what information from a good selection of options.
Quirk: If you are using the traffic information and have the traffic avoidance enabled you can get some really odd routes, since I was just trying mine out around town and to work and back I knew it was telling me wrong turns, a little time in the manual and I found out why, it was automatically altering the route around traffic alerts, while this may sound like a good thing and would be if it told you it was doing that, in my case it was not, no other route is going to help and I did not know what in the heck it was doing :) I found you can have the best of both worlds, keep trafic information turned on but disable traffic in the avoidances setting tab. Then it warns you of traffic on your route, lets you see where, and gives you a detour option at that point you can take or ignore. It would be better during the route calc process if it said it had added detours, and when it does it on the fly it should also, minor quirk once you know. This is a 3 star feature in the auto mode. 5 star would be to tell you and offer y/n detour options for each point.
Junction View to me was one of the most impressive features, I go through one very complex set of interchanges for 3 freeways with express lanes to bybass interchanges and local lane to pick up any direction to or from any free way, many a folks have left on the wrong path… When I was aproaching it the garmin flipped to junction view and wow, it had a clearly marked path through the maze, and nailed every lane on the money, and the optimum lane for the follwing turn if there was more than one lane leading into it. Very nice! Another 5 star feature, this would have made my first time through that a lost safer than the old garmin with just a yellow line through it.
The routes it comes up with are 4.5 star, it hits most very very well but will toss a few more odd ones out than my old Garmin did, they all do some, I think this could do better, the good news is these are not horrible routes, just not the better or best always.
The next 4 star item is the power cord/FM Traffic radio, it is like having jumper cables going up your dash, why it is not in the unit is beyond me, I am stumped so far as to how to route the cables a lot more cleaner than this and have traffic info.
Another option is to skip the traffic radio and run on battery, with the right settings you can get 3 hours, but with my settings I can get just over 2 hours on battery before the warning. The final power option is just power, that is an optional cord you have to buy that is a lot less bulky than the powered traffic cord. So battery life and traffic radio/power cord is 3 star.
Bluetooth phone paring was very easy and works great, the noise cancelling is pretty good also on its mic, so your caller can hear you and not road noise. 5 Star
Another nice feature is the speed limit that shows up in a little speed limit sign icon by your actual speed, if you are going over the limit for the road, the actual speed turns red in the display. (I will not say how I know but it is a relaible source!) 5 Star, speed limit signs on a lot of our local town roads is a problem.
I was also impressed that I could pick maximum map detail and it keeps up even in the city, during fast turns in very high street density it will occaisionally repaint the screen instead of smooth scrolling with your motion but it does it so fast, unlike my prior Garmin, they it is not distracting or leave you hanging with a partial map. This is 5 star all the way.
Overall I have to say I am very happy with the Garmin 1490LMT, I could not give it a full 5 for the things it fell just a little short on to me, but if I was to make the decision on a model again with what I know, I would buy it again, I think it would be hard to beat.Garmin nüvi 1490LMT 5-Inch Bluetooth Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Map Updates and Traffic