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I’ve used this GPS for several weeks now and when it is fully charged it is absolutely great. The voice is loud and clear, the maps are accurate and detailed. It acquires satellites quickly, even in less than optimal circumstances with trees overhead or tall buildings nearby. It is easy to program and the onscreen menus are convenient. It is thin and reasonably light and portable and the screen is big. But it has one major problem: the cigarette-lighter charging system does not supply enough current to charge the GPS while it is turned on. It is unbelievable that Garmin would allow their unit to be sold under these conditions.
When I received the unit I completely charged the battery (by connecting it to my computer using a USB cable which Garmin does not supply, but I happened to have one anyway). Then I used it in my car, always plugged into the cigarette lighter. It turns on automatically whenever you start the car, and it turns off automatically when the ignition switch is turned off. However, over this two week period the battery slowly discharged (without my knowledge) until it reached a point where the unit would no longer turn on, even when plugged in to the car charger. Assuming the unit was defective, I called Garmin and (after 20 minutes on hold) learned that the car charger is not up to the task, and that the GPS will slowly lose its charge when it is turned on, even if you have it connected to the cigarette lighter adapter. I believe this means that if you have a long drive, perhaps 8 hours or more, then the unit may not even remain operational throughout the full trip. Other people have made similar complaints about some of the other Garmin GPS units.
The tech support people explained how to recover from the low battery situation: you do a “soft reset” which simply involves holding down the on/off button for 10 seconds. Then the unit will turn on, but the battery will need recharging. I was told to do this by connecting it to my computer using a USB cable, which Garmin does not supply with the GPS (fortunately I already had one), but I assume you could do the same by connecting it to the car charger and making certain that the unit is turned off while it is charging.
What a shame that Garmin has produced a superior product with a fatal behavior. I will keep mine for now, but I’m going to investigate other charging solutions. Perhaps after reading this review, the wizards at Garmin will redesign the charging system for this GPS.
Update (Aug 1/09): I discovered the reason for these charging issues: In the User’s Manual, under “Troubleshooting”, Garmin states that the Nuvi will not charge if it is in direct sunlight or if the temperature is more than 113 degrees F (45 deg C). Since I had my unit attached to the windshield, and since I only drive during midday, it is always in sunlight. This charging rule applies to many other models as well; for any given model you can download the manual from Garmin, turn to the Troubleshooting section, and see whether or not they describe a similar charging rule. (The rule is probably meant to avoid overheating the battery: lithium batteries can occasionally catch fire if they are severely overcharged or overheated.) I think this explains why some people have encountered charging problems and others have not: it depends on whether or not the unit is always in direct sunlight while you are driving. Some people use the friction mount and their Garmin sits on the console. Others drive later in the day or at night.
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I have this unit for 10 days now and overall I am very happy with it. For its mainstream feature, navigation, it is excellent. I had a Garmin 350 before this which I loved but it was stolen from my car. I had a Magellan after that which was crap. The price on this unit was great ($247 – Amazon).
I chose it over the 1390T because I opted to not get bluetooth. It is the only difference between the units. I felt the bluetooth quality would be poor based on other reviews of bluetooth in general on GPS units. The main reason was in the way most people use bluetooth. In a typical day I am in and out of my car often. I always need my bluetooth immediately in case I get a call. I don’t always need my GPS. And since my previous unit was stolen, and theft of these units is a big problem everywhere, I keep the unit hidden or sometimes remove it from the car. So if you are like me but you get this unit for bluetooth, you will need to stop and mount your gps everytime you get in the car whether you need it or not, just to have blue tooth capability. If you forget and the cell phone rings, you have no bluetooth. So I purchased a separate bluetooth speaker phone from Jabra (very good unit# which is always attached to my visor, pretty good quality, and always there when I need it. I saved about $75 by opting for the 1350T over the 1390T.
A few minor disappointments. The Lane Assist feature works great but is not available everywhere. I used it around NYC and it was helpful. I drove through Pennsylvania and upstate NY and it was not available. Marketing material hypes this feature but they neglect to tell you this one point. But when it is available, it is a great feature. That brings me to traffic. Same story here. I was driving through PA and hit a 1 hour traffic jam. No warnings from the traffic feature because it was not available in that area. When I got to the Scranton, PA area the traffic alerts started working. It alerted me of a major traffic jam ahead and it even rerouted my trip automatically. The reroute would have been a significant addition in miles but would be worth it to avoid the traffic, right? I decided to ignore the re-route just to test the unit to see if the alert was accurate and I was willing to endure the traffic. As I drove my original route, no traffic anywhere. So had I listened to the traffic alert, I would have driven 50 miles out of my way for nothing. Bottom line is, don’t let the traffic feature be a deal breaker for the unit you choose. But then again, I got the 1350T for about the same price as the 1350 #same unit without traffic). Updating the map was more difficult than it should have been. I consider myself a very technical person with computers and gadgets but the map update did not go smoothly and took me several tries. I could see where many people will have difficulty with this if they attempt to update the map.