A few months ago, my husband and I participated in what has seemingly become our yearly ritual; the service exchange on our GPS. Since our first unit in 2005, we have had seven GPS replacements. We do use the units often, as my husband uses it for work travel about three times per week and we use it for personal use a few times each month, but I never felt our usage was heavy enough to warrant them breaking so frequently. Luckily for us, we purchased the store's protection plan. Though exchanging the units can be inconvenient, we haven't paid full price for a GPS since our first unit and the annual upgrades are always a bit of a treat!
With the exception of finding the touch screen's lack of sensitivity to be frustrating, we had been happy with our Garmin Nuvi 1490T
. We chose the Garmin Nuvi 3760T GPS
as its replacement. Our latest GPS has all of the great features of its predecessor with an excellent touch screen!
The Nuvi 3760T
has been our most sleek-looking model yet! It has a slim design that measures only 2.9"H by 4.88"W by 0.5"D. I would compare it to an iPod in thickness, and somewhere between a Droid X and an iPod in height and width. Its small size makes it less cumbersome to travel with than previous models we've had. My husband can easily fit it in his inside jacket pocket, even with the case. Since the unit only weighs 3.2 ounces, I can also slip it into my pocketbook without it becoming a burden. The small size makes it comfortable to hold and operate, fitting well in the palm of a hand while programming addresses. It doesn't obstruct the windshield too much when mounted, while still providing a reasonably large screen for visual navigation.
The unit's 4.3" screen is backlit, providing a bright display for the maps and other features. The color display adjusts the map based on the time of day, darkening the screen and adjusting the areas surrounding roads to black in the evening so as not to distract from the actual view of the road. Overall, I would describe the screen quality as very good. The picture is sharp and sufficiently bright to see in any lighting.
The antenna is built into body of the unit. A small power button is located on the top, while a micro USB port on the bottom of the unit serves as the power connection to be used with the included AC adapter. This port can also be used for PC connection with an optional USB cable, though we found it worked fine with the USB cable from our smartphones. This direct power connection is far preferable to a mount-powered design, in which a faulty mount could prevent the unit from charging (which happened to one of our previous TomTom GPS units).
The mount design itself is impressive. The unit easily snaps into the mount with a clip at the top to hold it firmly in place. Though we've had some issues with suction cup mounts in the past, this one is quite reliable and has yet to detach from the window by itself. The mount can be removed from the window by pulling a release.
Ease of Use
The Garmin GPS interface is very user friendly. Initial setup was quick and easy. Users who have used a Garmin unit before will recognize the graphical interface, but I would imagine the learning curve for any user would be relatively small. Programming addresses is an easy step-by-step process that any literate person could navigate with ease. The various features are easy to find and use. This is especially helpful for minimizing driver's distraction when adjustments need to be made en route, such as finding a nearby gas station.
Garmin has vastly improved the touch screen over previous models I have owned. This GPS has similar responsiveness to my iPod touch or my Droid Incredible. A quick touch of the finger selects features and a gentle swipe allows users to navigate the menus. The need for multiple touches and nearly putting your finger through the screen has been completely eliminated. The screen also reads the interactions very accurately. I frequently mistyped several letters at a time when programming addresses on my previous GPS, simply because the force I would have to use would result in me accidentally touching multiple letters. I haven't encountered that problem even once with this device!
Navigation and Features
The Garmin Nuvi 3760T
is a portable navigation device designed for vehicle and walking navigation. The unit is preloaded with maps of the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. The unit has a microSD card slot which allows users to add a memory card with regional maps and additional data. The preloaded maps are more than sufficient for us, as most of our driving occurs within the New York metropolitan area with occasional trips to New England and Southern Pennsylvania. I also like knowing that we'll be able to use our GPS on our upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
The maps on our 3760T
are very accurate, with the exceptions of very recent construction projects. Luckily
, in New York City, construction projects seem to take years and it's rare that I encounter an unanticipated detour. One thing I don't like about the unit is that only one map update is provided out of the box, so we're forced to pay $60 per year to keep the maps current. I only recently discovered that Garmin offers lifetime map update cards for $80-$120, but I'm not sure how worth the costs these are considering how short the "lifetime" of our units seems to be.
This device powers with the touch of a button with a start-up time of about five seconds. In most situations, it obtains a signal within 10-15 seconds of start-up, but that time has been closer to 45 seconds in places like Manhattan with a lot of skyscrapers.
The navigation provided by this unit is excellent. With options that include best time, shortest distance, and gas efficiency, I have plenty of options to navigate to my destination. The lifetime traffic updates help navigate around traffic snarls and accidents any time of day. The unit has a traffic icon that switches between green, yellow, and red to indicate the severity of traffic. Users can also view the specific portion of the route affected by the traffic. With the help of these features, my husband has successfully driven home from three boroughs away in forty-five minutes during rush hour!
The text-to-speech feature provides explicit directions with street names, preventing the driver from being forced to look at the map so much that he or she is distracted from the road. The semi-top down view is easy to see when it is necessary to look at the map. At particularly confusing intersections, the map zooms in to provide a very detailed view, which has greatly reduced the number of times we've missed an exit or turn. The voice prompts are provided at practical intervals, providing ample instruction to prevent accidental detours. In situations when rerouting is necessary, the unit does so in a timely fashion. It takes about five seconds for the unit to recalculate.
My only complaint about the unit's navigation is one for which I can't necessarily fault the device. I have found that the unit is more helpful for longer trips that shorter, local trips due to its inability to compensate for the quirks of local traffic. This may not affect some users at all as the issue may be very area-specific. I'm currently living on a 17-mile island with a population that rivals the state of Wyoming and one of the worst traffic infrastructures ever. The GPS will often select a particular road which would seemingly be the quickest route, but anyone who has lived in the area knows to avoid that street due to the high volume of retail traffic on Saturdays and Sundays. There are also numerous intersections that are notorious for being backed up due to high volume and awkward traffic light timings, which wouldn't be included in the unit's traffic information. Since I just don't think technology has advanced to the point that it can mimic the human ability of common sense, I chalk this minor complaint to the limitations (perhaps permanent limitations, and rightfully so) of technology and reroute myself.
This GPS is also preloaded with six million points of interest including hotels, landmarks, gas stations, hospitals, and more. It has greatly cut down on my need to research addresses before we go out. My husband and I frequently rely on the points of interest for our destination addresses and use our smartphones to fill in the few gaps we encounter. The unit provides storage for 1,000 addresses, helping us keep our favorite destinations easily accessible. Since the GPS allows the user to set multiple stops, we often use the points of interest to select a gas station to route us to before continuing on the route for our road trip.
There are a number of other features of this GPS I really like. There a number of options for the voice navigation, including male and female voices with various accents. My husband likes the English accent which directs us to the "motorway" and around the "turnabout." There are also plenty of downloadable options, including some seasonal voices like Dr. Nightmare, who recalculates by saying "Let me consult my magic book" for Halloween, or Elfred, the cheery elf who exclaims "Santa can see when you're speeding!" There are also a few graphical customizations available for download. To accompany our Christmas-themed voice, we downloaded an icon of car with a Christmas tree strapped to the roof. The first time we used the new theme was the day we picked up our Christmas tree!
This GPS can also accurately measure your traveling speed and warns you when you're driving over the speed limit on roads for which it has data. Another useful feature is Garmin's "Where Am I?" which provides your latitude and longitude, as well the nearest address, hospital, and police station. "Where's My Car?"records the location where the device was removed from the mount to help users find their parking spot.
has integrated Bluetooth, allowing connectivity for wireless phone calls, which is helpful for compliance with local laws. The device also has a calculator and currency/measurement converter.
Garmin boasts that the unit's battery will last up to four hours, but I've only ever had to rely on the battery for 2-3 hours at a time without charging it. In both those instances, I received no battery warnings or failures.
When our exchange was processed, the Garmin Nuvi 3760T
was priced at $469.99, but I've recently seen it on sale for $259.99. We actually only paid the cost of a new protection plan for the unit ($60) so we'll be prepared if this unit breaks. It does have a 1 year warranty through Garmin.
We've had this unit for about seven months now and have been very happy with its performance. The improvements in the touch screen have made this model very easy to use, and the navigation and features are great. I highly recommend it!