It's pricey, but the Garmin nuLink 1695 offers one feature you won't find on cheaper Garmins: It connects to the Internet, so you can search Google for unlimited addresses and points of interests, plus get traffic information, the latest weather, local gas prices and more. Expert testers say the Google search is speedy and reliable, and owners agree; although you'll have to put up with pop-up ads, most users find them unobtrusive. Since the nuLink 1695 gets its traffic information via cell signal, one expert says it will work better in fringe reception areas than the FM traffic other GPS units use, but unlike other Garmins, the nuLink 1695 doesn't include free lifetime traffic (traffic comes with the nuLink services, which cost $60 per year after the first free year).
The nuLink 1695 also has the ability to learn traffic patterns in your area, as well as your favorite routes. Experts say this really helps the unit create more efficient routes, although it can take longer to generate the route initially. Some owners disagree, though, saying the nuLink 1695 doesn't always pick the best route, and it can be slow not only while creating a route, but also when recalculating after a missed turn. If you don't need the Internet services, the less expensive Garmin nuvi 3790T (*Est. $250) also has the ability to learn traffic patterns.
GPSTracklog.com and ConsumerReports.org both conduct thorough tests of the Garmin nuLink 1695 in the U.S., and Which? magazine performs equally excellent tests in the U.K. Some users at Amazon.com find flaws the pros don't.
1. GPS Tracklog
After a full test, Rich Owings is impressed with the Garmin nuLink 1695. It's an "excellent navigator," its Internet search function works great, and its cellular traffic info works better in fringe reception areas than the FM traffic you'll find on other GPS units. Still, it's expensive, and some of its features -- such as the ability to learn your favorite routes -- can be found on cheaper Garmins.
Review: Garmin nuLink 1695 Review, Rich Owings, Dec. 13, 2010
ConsumerReports.org includes the Garmin nuLink 1695 in its latest round of expert, unbiased GPS tests. Editors rank it alongside 136 other GPS navigators, based on its routing, ease of use, traffic interface and more.
Review: GPS Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Which? magazine
Which? magazine, a U.K. publication similar to ConsumerReports.org, tests the Garmin nuLink 1695 alongside 96 other GPS navigators. Each model gets scores in 19 performance and usability categories, and editors pick the best buys.
Review: Sat Nav Reviews, Editors of Which? magazine
With around 15 customer reviews posted at the time of this update, the Garmin nuLink 1695 averages 4 stars out of 5. Owners like the big, bright screen and handy Internet search option, but some say it takes a long time to calculate a route and doesn't always pick the best route.
Review: Garmin Nuvi 1695 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Navigator with Google Local Search and Real-Time Traffic, Contributors to Amazon.com