written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/19/2011
Garmin's summer release, the nuvi 3790T is a beauty. Coming in thinner than an iPhone, with a glass, capacitive screen, and features such as voice recognition and 3D maps, the Garmin nuvi 3790T has it all, but does it have what it takes to compete with GPS units and smartphones?
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Garmin nuvi 3790T Review
The Garmin nuvi 3790T is one of Garmin's latest releases from the summer of 2010. With a thin, sleek design and a beautiful glass screen, the nuvi 3790T is Garmin's almost luxury-like GPS navigation device. Rather breaking away from the usual blocky, ugly design that navigation units have gone by, the Garmin 3790T is extremely sleek, and resembles a smartphone more than a GPS navigation unit. The Garmin nuvi 3790T has new customizable voice commands, 3D terrain views and even historical analysis of road speeds for calculating the fastest routes, all great additions to an already amazing product.
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Design and Display
The first and foremost part of the design that stands out for the nuvi 3790T is the thinness. The 3790T is amazingly thing for a GPS unit, measuring in at 0.35 inches in thickness, the Garmin nuvi 3790T is slightly thinner than the iPhone 4. The navigational unit has a beautiful 4.3 inch touch sensitive, capacitive, glass display. It is, of course, a fingerprint magnet, but the display comes off bright, even in direct sunlight, which is extremely helpful on drives. The Garmin nuvi 3790T is very simplistic and minimalist in its design. The 3790T also returns to the 'active mount' method of charging, the power for the nuvi is charged via the mount, not directly to the GPS unit, for charging the device while in the car. The mount also has an extra pair of speakers to help in really boosting the voice of the Garmin nuvi 3790T. The nuvi 3790T also has a microUSB port for charging the device directly or to connect to a computer.
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The Garmin nuvi 3790T has a very easy to use interface for both new users and older Garmin fans alike. The nuvi can also be used in landscape or portrait mode thanks to the addition of an accelerometer, an extremely useful addition to the Garmin nuvi series. In addition to the usual buttons that the nuvi has offered in the past for zooming or moving on the screen, the nuvi 3790T also features multitouch capabilities. That means you can pinch to zoom rather than pressing on the '+' and '-' icons of old. It's very much like an iPhone from a user experience perspective. The Garmin nuvi 3790T also features 2D and 3D views for maps, allowing you to change between then with some touch commands. To prevent any accidental input onto the touchscreen, the nuvi 3790T also has a lock button, another similar feature to today's smartphones.
The nuvi 3790T also has voice recognition capabilities. It is limited to saved locations or nearby locations, rather than for speaking entire full addresses. One thing to note is that you must speak slowly for the voice recognition to really catch what you're saying. It also has the 'wake up' voice recognition, which kind of acts like the game Simon Says. You have a command that 'wakes up' the GPS, such as 'nuvi give me' or 'Miss GPS' followed by your command, it's customizable but as the default, the command is 'Voice Command'. It's a interesting concept, it's easy to pick up and easy to use, though at times it may misunderstand what you state. Overall however, the voice recognition is fairly useful.
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The Garmin nuvi 3790T comes with some great features. The aforementioned voice command is a great addition to the device and once you become accustomed to the voice command features, you can even start commanding the nuvi 3790T without even looking at the device. The microphone for the nuvi 3790T can also be used for something other than just taking commands, the 3790T also features Bluetooth, allowing you to wireless connect your phone to the GPS.
The Bluetooth feature for the nuvi 3790T is solid, connecting seamlessly and matching up your contacts in the nuvi's phonebook. The nuvi has caller ID and a phone icon appears when your phone connects. Call quality was fairly clear, especially with the car mount, since the mount has a separate dedicated stereo. People receiving the call did have some problems hearing the call, but that was mostly due to the noise within the car, but if you have a solid, fairly quiet interior, call quality will increase.
Once you plug in the car charger, the nuvi 3790T immediately turns on the FM traffic feature. The nuvi 3790T offers lifetime traffic updates, no doubt being offered due to the current free traffic services that can be used on smartphone GPS systems. The streets are highlighted in the familiar green and red colors for no traffic and traffic jams respectively. The live traffic is usually very accurate and is an extremely helpful feature added to the 3790T. One thing to note however, is that the live traffic function is supported by ads, so you will see ads at the bottom of the screen. Kind of a disappointment considering the price of the device is $450, and one would expect that live traffic should come free without ads. It's not too distracting but for folks who don't like seeing ads, it may be a distraction.
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Similar to other Garmin GPS units, the nuvi 3790T performs extremely well. Boot up time for the 3790T took about half a minute, but if put into 'sleep mode', the 3790T will snap right back on when the power button is pressed. After booting up, it took a little over a minute to connect to a satellite and to synch up, about the average time that other higher end GPS units take. The 3790T, like other GPS units does have a hard time synching up your location when you're deep in the city, at times confusing which road you're on. Overall, the performance of the Garmin nuvi 3790T is slightly above par when compared to existing GPS units and even existing smartphones with GPS capability.
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The Garmin nuvi 3790T GPS unit ranks in at a well deserved 'Excellent' rating. With a whole new approach to the design of the GPS, to mirror that of a smartphone, along with the voice commands and live traffic, the nuvi 3790T really blows all other GPS units out of the water. Not only is the design of the phone nice, but the build quality is perfect, the smooth glass surface, the silver lining around the black body, it all works.
This rating works only if you're specifically looking for a GPS unit. In today's world, with so many smartphones having new features, one of which is an integrated GPS, the ranking definitely falls. Having to carry a smartphone that can perform GPS functions along with another device that's specifically used as a GPS unit only is redundant. The Garmin nuvi 3790T really was released a generation too late, as it could have really capitalized on the market before smartphones became so powerful. Overall, if you're looking for a solid GPS unit and do not use a smartphone, the Garmin nuvi 3790T is an excellent choice.