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Introduction.  Meet Emily 

I couldn’t live without her.  At least if I want to drive in Thailand.  She always has time for me, remembers where things are, tells me when to turn and when I’ll be getting on the Expressway, and if I stick her in a box for a long time she never complains.  So far it’s been the perfect relationship!  She’s never let me down and in return I take good care of her.  Heck, I even respect her intelligence and quick analytical mind. 

Her name is Emily, and she’s been my Mai Noi for five years now.  Well, that’s what my wife calls her.  In reality she’s began life as a Nuvi 350, and then I traded her in for a younger model the Nuvi 885t reviewed here. She aged and a new model came out with an awesome display and she’s much more slender, so I once again traded her in for the new Nuvi 3790t.   New Emily!  An indispensible member of my family! 

Without a doubt a quality GPS quickly becomes your best friend when trying to navigate the streets of Bangkok, and as technology moves forward GPS devices become more useful and more user friendly.  The new Nuvi 3790t sits way ahead of any other GPS on the market.  Keep reading to find out why.

 

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Installation

The mount is a mixture of the best of the features from the past, and some new features.  It comes with a windshield suction cup base and an adhesive mount disc if you want to mount it on the dash.  These things are pretty much the same as before. 

 

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The power adapter plugs into the side of the mount via a mini-USB plug.  This feature was on the top models of the past, and then for some crazy reason Garmin discontinued it.  For a long time most of the Nuvi models required you plugging the power cable directly into the GPS itself, which requires a lot of plugging and unplugging if you remove the GPS and put it out of sight when you leave the car.  And you should.  When the power cord plugs into the side of the mount then you can leave it there, and simply clicking the GPS in/out of the mount also adds/removes power.  I’m very pleased to see this feature make a comeback on the new 3700 series Nuvi.

 

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Also, while the 3790t has a small speaker built in, it also has a much bigger and more powerful (read more loud) speaker now built into the mount itself.  If you have trouble hearing your current GPS, you’ll love this feature.  I used to keep my Nuvi 350 and 885t at approximately 60% volume, now it’s at 20% and it has more volume than before!

 

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The power cord has the traffic receiver built into the cord in a rather awkward spot, about 8-9 inches from where the mini-USB plug.  I’m sure they put it there to make sure it was high enough to receive well by being in line with the windows, but it’s a bit bulky and moves around a bit.  I solved this issue with a small square of 3M double sided tape. 

 

Features

Look

The first thing you notice about the 3790t is how thin it is.  When powered down the screen is all black, has no buttons, and closely resembles an Iphone.  It’s actually more thin than an Iphone, right between and Iphone and an Itouch.  The second thing you notice is the black glass display has the same resolution as an Iphone and apparently has identical quality in every way.  It’s more than an upgraded display, it’s an entirely new display unlike any other GPS out there.  Even at an angle you can clearly see the screen which is helpful for your passenger if they’re following along.

 

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The new display is also “multi-touch” which means it has all the touch features it had in the past, but also works much like an Iphone does when using other functions. 

 

3-D Building View

This is a really cool feature, but I’m afraid it’s not part of any Thailand map set.  Yet.   As you drive down a street or highway, the buildings you’re passing are shown in 3D.  This can be helpful in finding the right building. 

 

Terrain View

This feature is very useful, but not yet available in Thailand.  As you drive up/down a mountain road or anywhere where the topography changes, a terrain view now clearly shows your car as it moves over the topographical features. 

 

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NuRoute

NuRoute is about routing logic.  Coupled to a more powerful CPU you get much better route selections than before.  From testing I could tell it was picking up my “local shortcuts” where my older models kept me on the main streets.  This is immensely useful and much appreciated. 

 

EcoRoute/TrafficTrends/MyTrends

These new features bring a much higher level of intelligence to the GPS operating system.  Traffic trends automatically keeps track of your routes, how long it takes, what days of the week, and the time, and then suggests routes based on these factors. 

My Trends learns your preferred routes.  Over time it remembers any deviations from the recommended routes, and along with the nuRoute information, will help provide the best route possible.  The more you use the GPS, the more accurate this information becomes.  Over a period of 3-4 weeks time it was like the 3790t was reading my mind about the routes I wanted to take and reminded me when my mind was on other things. 

Ecoroute uses all of the above information, your driving habits and speeds, traffic from the traffic radio/alert system, and map data, and then can offer you the most economical route. 

 

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Voice Activated

My Nuvi 885t had voice activation and while it worked, I found I didn’t use it much.  It was more trouble than it was worth.  It also had a button which was held on the steering wheel via a rubber strap which you need to press to activate the system, and press again to deactivate. 

The 3790t greatly improves speech recognition.  Instead of a button you can now use a voice command and set the command to anything you wish.  I set mine to “Computer?”  Once it recognizes this command phrase it flashes to its speech recognition screen and awaits your next command.  The screen lists your choices, Favorites, Go Home, and the other common commands as well as Go Home.  I rarely had to repeat myself which makes the system a joy to use.  I now find myself using it whenever the car is moving because it’s actually easier and less stressful than taking my hands off the wheel and my eyes off the road.  Finally, a refined and useful speech recognition!

 

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Lane Assist

Lane Assist remains the single most useful navigation tool.    In the upper left hand corner of the screen you’ll see a green dialog box with arrows either pointing straight ahead, or turning right or left.  If there are four lanes there will be four arrows.  It helps position you in the right lane when turning.  Also, right above the arrows is your distance to the next turn.  Below, you can see that in 2.7 miles you’ll need to bear left from the furthest right lane.  I can’t tell you how great this feature is in Thailand.

 

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Junction View

Junction View shows you an actual image of an approaching intersection/junction and places an arrow through the lanes as you should drive them.  This is a bit redundant considering Lane Assist (which is more useful) and while it’s available in every major western country in any language, it’s only available in Thailand IF you buy one of their GPS models. 

 

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Unfortunately inside Thailand they’re selling 2-4 year old models at more than full retail prices, and none of the new 3700 series or other more advanced/nicer models are available.   A cheap and non-effective ploy on their part.  If you have a Nuvi model from another country, and it’s one of the models they’ve sold here, there’s a good chance you can get the Thai firmware and flash your firmware to the Thai version thereby gaining Junction View.  Frankly I don’t think it’s worth the hassle, it would be great if we had it, but with Lane Assist you won’t miss it much if it’s not there.  

 

Traffic Alerts

When you turn on your Nuvi 3790t for the first time it will ask you to accept licensing terms for the traffic radio and alert system.  It only asks you this first time and with this model it’s a lifetime license so there will be no monthly charges.

These traffic alerts and traffic radio receivers are very useful in a country that supports them.  Couples with the 3790t’s new routing technology the GPS can tell if one route will have light, moderate, medium, or heavy traffic, show you this information in a handy color code on the route, and then route you away from the worst traffic.  Unfortunately there is no such system in Thailand, though they are testing such a system.  It’s nowhere close to being tested, and then it would need to be implemented and finally supported in the mapset.  I don’t see this happening in Thailand for another 5-7 years.  

You can now buy most Nuvi GPS’s with optional lifetime map updates.  Look for the “LMT” designator after the model number.  For instance, the Nuvi 3790t retails for $449 USD.  The Nuvi 3790tLMT retails for $499 USD’s.  $50 for lifetime map updates is reasonable. 

 

Hands Free Calls

The 3790t includes Bluetooth capabilities.  This allows you to transfer music for the built in music player, ebooks for the ebook reader, images for the picture viewer, via BT.  BT also allows you to accept and make hands free calls via voice command.  I was able to pair my HTC Desire Android on the first attempt and the hands free feature provides an adequate quality service.  I like my BT headset much better, but then it’s right in my ear and near my mouth, and not 2-3 feet away in a noisy car. 

 

Performance

 

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I found the Nuvi 3790t to perform far better in all areas than any previous model I’ve used.  Frankly, I didn’t expect it to be worth it’s high cost when I ordered it, but I’m a curious type so I ordered it anyway.  It only took a few days use to realize it’s value lays far beyond it’s good looks and great new display. 

It locks on after a cold or warm start much faster than my 885t, quickly finds a route, and the route is very often much better than the previous models provided.  Immediately I noticed it was routing met through all the shortcuts the locals use and I began to rely on the Nuvi routing much more than I did before. 

The volume is more clear and more loud, speech recognition is usable, and if you must reroute, it calculates your new route very quickly. 

The driver information screen is easy to read and provides all the necessary information and then some.

 

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If the radio alert senses road construction ahead the 3790t notifies me, and if necessary offers to route me around the construction.

 

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The menu system is much the same as the 885t, when you first turn it on it provides two choices, Where To, and  View Map.

 

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Selecting Where To gets you into the main screen for selecting your route.

 

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Overall the performance is very good, the best I’ve seen to date.  Even the reception is better.

 

Summary

 

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This is a tough one.  Usually I’d say if your current GPS is working for you then there is no urgency to update to a newer model.  However, the Nuvi 3790t changes the game so significantly and the gains in performance and features are so significant, that you’ll really want to get one of these.  But then there’s the price. 

At $449 USD’s or $499 USD’s with lifetime maps, it’s quite expensive.  It’s less expensive than a couple of the 2-3 year old models they’re selling within Thailand, but by US prices it’s a pricey unit.   Yet the question remains, is it worth the cost?   I think yes.  The sum total of the new features, new maps, new look, great display, and higher performance come together in a perfect storm of value which screams BUY ME! 

If you’re not replacing a GPS, but buying your first one, then the answer is easy.  Buy one of the 3700 series Nuvi’s which more closely fits your needs vs. your budget.  It’s that much better than the competition.   

You’ll need to guard this one lest it finds its way into the hands of a thief.  It so closely resembles an Iphone/Itouch, that thieves will automatically assume it’s such without bothering to take a closer look.  Hide it well from the valets or car wash attendants, they won’t know it’s not an Iphone either and a pocketable item worth 2-3x their monthly salary can be quite tempting even for a relatively honest man. 

There have been some comments on forums that it looks “fragile.”  Perhaps in comparison to the old bulky models, but it looks and probably is every bit as tough as an Iphone and with reasonable care I don’t see any issues.  A smartphone you carry everywhere, sit on it, drop it, and basically really use the thing in all environments.  A GPS normally lives out its life going from the relative safety of your glove box or console, to the mount and back again.  Even if it were fragile, I don’t think you’d harm it in such use. 

Despite the price I’m happy I purchased mine.  I didn’t go into great detail on all the features, but you should know every feature and every detail has been improved.  The Nuvi 3790t is a significant leap ahead of previous models and all the competition.  It’s currently the best consumer GPS available and worth every penny!