The Internet-connected Garmin nuLink 1690 impresses top experts more than Internet-connected competitors from TomTom and Motorola, although the newer Garmin nuLink 1695 (*Est. $320) now outdoes it by offering a bigger 5-inch screen and the ability to learn local traffic patterns.
Critics say these units' Internet connections make it convenient to search Google for addresses and points of interest and have the lowest gas prices and more at your fingertips. The Garmin nuLink 1690 includes two years of Internet-connected services for free and $60 a year thereafter; the nuLink 1695 includes one year free. Some owners and professional testers are annoyed that they have to put up with pop-up ads in exchange for the free Internet service on these units, but others say the ads are unobtrusive. Reviewers note that the nuLink 1690's traffic and lane-assist information is only available in certain metropolitan areas, and some owners complain that the nuLink 1690 and other newer-model Garmins don't lock onto satellites or create the best routes as quickly and reliably as the older, simpler models that Garmin has discontinued.
GPSMagazine.com and ConsumerReports.org conduct the most extensive tests of the Garmin nuvi 1690 (now renamed the Garmin nuLink 1690) in the U.S., with Which? magazine and TrustedReviews.com performing excellent tests in the U.K. PC World also bases its review on hands-on testing. Some users at Amazon.com report problems that don't show up in professional tests.
After a thorough test, this reviewer concludes that the Garmin nuvi 1690 is easier to use than TomTom's Internet-connected model, the TomTom Go 740 Live. He calls the nuvi 1690 "the first connected GPS you might actually buy."
Review: Garmin nuvi 1690 Review, Fletcher Previn, Oct. 4, 2009
ConsumerReports.org ranks the Garmin nuvi 1690 alongside 137 other GPS navigators, based on its performance in the thorough, unbiased tests here.
Review: GPS Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. PC World
The Garmin nuvi 1690 gets a high rating here. Tester Craig Ellison points out that because the nuvi 1690 includes two years of Internet-connected services, it's cheaper in the long run than the competing TomTom Go 740 Live, which charges monthly for its connected services.
Review: Garmin Nuvi 1690, Craig Ellison, Sept. 25, 2009
4. Which? magazine
The Garmin nuvi 1690 is one of 97 GPS units tested by Which? magazine, the U.K.'s answer to ConsumerReports.org. Editors rate each model's ease of use, performance versatility and features.
Review: Sat Nav Reviews, Editors of Which? magazine
With perfect -- or nearly perfect -- scores in every test at this U.K. website, the Garmin nuvi 1690 is a top recommended pick. It even beats the Internet-connected unit from TomTom, the brand that usually rules U.K. reviews.
Review: Garmin nuvi 1690 Sat-Nav Review, James Morris, Jan. 18, 2010
With more than 150 customer reviews posted, the Garmin nuvi 1690 averages 3.5 stars out of 5. Most recent reviews are positive, but some owners complain of routing and other problems.
Review: Garmin nuvi 1690 4.3-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search and Real-Time Traffic Alerts, Contributors to Amazon.com