Garmin nuLink 1695 review

6 Apr 2011

Very easy to use and chock full of features, but the traffic service could be better

Price when reviewed: 
200(£225 inc VAT)
5

Garmin offers a huge range of satnav devices, but oddly just one with live services onboard to rival TomTom. The nuLink 1695 has a GPRS radio built in, and offers Google local search for when the points of interest database doesn’t find what you’re looking for.

It provides a more reliable means of receiving traffic data than the FM-based TMC system, and its trafficTrends technology works in a similar way to TomTom’s IQ Routes, gathering journey data from other Garmin users to base its route choice on. In addition, the nuLink has live airport departure and arrival details, weather, and a Google Latitude-alike service that lets your friends monitor where you are.

The nuLink supports Garmin’s optional ecoRoute HD dongle (£100 inc VAT). This plugs into your car’s onboard computer via its OBD II port (a list of compatible vehicles can be found on Garmin’s website), allowing you to monitor your fuel efficiency, carry out engine diagnostics and even tap into real-time information such as coolant temperature and rpm (it varies depending on the vehicle), then present it onscreen in the form of graphical gauges.

Garmin nuLink 1695

In use, the nuLink is a bit hit and miss. Its massive 5in screen makes it easy to use, and that’s helped by its responsiveness and a quality touchscreen. Onscreen buttons are large and easy to press, and navigating around the user interface is simple. Audio is outstanding, with voice instructions delivered about as loudly and clearly as you could hope for.

On the road, however, we weren’t quite as impressed. Even with the trafficTrends technology, route choices weren’t brilliant, with the device directing us through the heart of East London on our cross-London jaunt rather than on the sensible route down towards the Blackwall Tunnel and through the Limehouse Link tunnel.

The timing of voice instructions wasn’t ideal, often coming too early before a junction. And the maps lack detail, a fact made worse by an odd perspective that means it’s difficult to judge the distance to upcoming junctions.

Those negatives undermine what could have been a sterling effort from Garmin, especially as the price is so reasonable. It’s a good all-round satnav, but the nuLink 1695 can't quite match the best TomToms we've tested.

Details

Price ex VAT £167
Price inc VAT £200
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
GPS recommended use In-car

Mapping

Maps supplied Europe
Map data provider Navteq
Navigation software Garmin Europe

Hardware

Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 480 x 272
In-car mount type Windscreen
External GPS antenna included? no
Bluetooth support yes
Front panel memory card reader yes
Headphone output no
Sync via cable? yes
Sync via cradle? no
FM transmitter? no

Other functions

Traffic information Via GPRS
Speed-camera warning yes
Postcode search 7-digit
Tracklog export yes

PC Software

Software supplied None

Dimensions

Dimensions 140 x 86 x 18mm (WDH)