Garmin Nuvi 1490T Sat Nav Review

This review looks at the Garmin Nuvi 1490T. This system is one of several new releases by Garmin this year. The Nuvi 1490T is aimed at the higher end of the market offering features like lane assist, junction view, route planning, speed camera warnings, traffic alerts, bluetooth, ecoRoute, public transport and pedestrian modes. It also sports a large 5 inch screen.

Box Contents
This is what you get in the box.
Garmin Nuvi 1490T with preloaded maps of UK and Europe
Suction cup holder and cradle
Power cable
TMC traffic antenna and suction cups
USB cable
Dashboard disk
Quick start guide

First Impressions
The Nuvi 1490T looks a nice system out of the box and is well constructed. Despite the large 5 inch screen it is surprisingly easy to carry around with you and is only 15mm thick.
The suction cup, cradle, power cable and traffic antenna are the same design as other recent releases by Garmin. The traffic antenna and power cable are two separate cables, with the traffic antenna plugging into a small socket on the power cable. This means you have the option to take the Nuvi 1490T out on the road without the traffic antenna cluttering up your windscreen if you wish. This is an improvement over earlier models like theNuvi 770 where the traffic antenna and power cable were one unit.
Setup in the car was a hassle free process and we found the suction cup and cradle easy to use. Initial satellite acquisition was also quick.
One of the features offered by the Nuvi 1490T is junction view and lane assist. When approaching a complex junction the screen will switch to junction view for a few seconds to help you get in the right lane.
Out on the road we found the lane assist worked well. Signposts displayed on screen were identical to the real ones on the road and plenty of warning was given when required to change lanes.

The Nuvi 1490T includes a subscription-free traffic alert service. This service will warn you of any traffic problems on your route giving you the option to take an alternative route.
As with other systems we’ve reviewed over the years we found the traffic alerts to be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it would be spot on in warning of upcoming delays. On other occasions it would warn of queuing traffic ahead only for there to be no delays at all.
It is also worth noting that on a couple of occasions the traffic receiver was unable to pick up a signal, and this lasted for several miles before reception was regained.

So our advice would be to not expect perfection from the traffic alert service.
As far as speed camera alerts are concerned the Nuvi 1490T was very good. It excels best with fixed cameras, in our tests it passed with flying colours in this department.
It did a pretty good job spotting mobile and temporary speed cameras too, but there were times where it could have done better. This is to be expected though. Temporary speed cameras, such as those in motorway roadworks, are always on the move and it is important to update the speed camera database on the Garmin from time to time.

Speed camera updates can be done via the Garmin web site. There are also a number of 3rd party web sites offering the same updates, often at a cheaper price, such as the Garmin speed camera plugin from

You can also see in the screenshot above that the Nuvi 1490T displays the current speed limit for a given road in the bottom right of the screen. This can be useful, especially when driving on unfamiliar roads where you’re not sure of the speed limit. In our tests the Nuvi 1490T did an excellent job displaying the correct speed limit.
Points of Interest (POI)
As with all Garmin systems we’ve reviewed the Nuvi 1490T includes an extensive points of interest (POI) database.

The Nuvi 1490T also includes a feedback feature where you can report any anomalies you find, such as a point of interest in the wrong location. This is a fairly new addition to the Garmin range and was introduced to compete with similar offerings from TomTom, like the TomTom Go 740 Live we reviewed earlier this year.

We tested the Nuvi 1490T over the course of a week. During this time we ran into a number of issues. None of these are major but when put together it does raise concerns over the build quality.

We ran into the following issues:

  • Around day 3 of testing the speaker would not work when the unit was switched on. We would be driving several miles and then realise there was no audio for the voice directions. We checked the volume settings and the volume was not muted. We found that by either increasing or decreasing the volume the speaker would suddenly kick back into life. This problem occurred every time we used the system thereafter, even after doing a factory reset.
  • On one occasion the unit got stuck in USB mass storage mode whilst in the car. This basically means the Nuvi 1490T thought it was plugged into a computer rather than a vehicle meaning we couldn’t navigate anywhere. The Nuvi 1490T just displayed a computer icon on the screen and we couldn’t do anything. We found that once we started driving the unit would reboot itself and then return to normal navigation mode. This problem only occurred once but was not something we expected.
  • The first time we plugged the Nuvi 1490T into a computer using the USB cable it would not connect properly. The Nuvi 1490T repeatedly rebooted itself and in the end we just disconnected it from the computer, then tried reconnecting and the second time it connected successfully.
  • We ran into a couple of issues with the mapping. On one occasion it directed us through a town centre rather than using a bypass and another time the directions had the wrong road number. We’ve run into these type of issues when reviewing other systems, so we were not particularly concerned. Over the course of a week of thorough road testing these were the only two mapping issues we discovered. In our experience no sat nav system is perfect in this area, so don’t let this issue put you off.
  • One other minor niggle. There were a couple of times where we felt the Nuvi announced upcoming turns too early, which in a busy city centre could result in you taking an earlier turn by mistake. For the majority of our tests though we didn’t find this a problem, but worth noting nonetheless.
  • Part of us would like to think that we simply reviewed a dud model, but we ran into a few issues when we reviewed the Garmin Nuvi 775T earlier this year too, so we feel there are a few question marks over build quality recently, especially when you consider the price tag.

The Garmin Nuvi 1490T is a nice looking system that performs well as a navigation device. There are a few question marks over build quality though and we’re not convinced this is a good buy when you consider the price tag.
Our advice would be to shop around for something cheaper. If you don’t need the route planning or bluetooth then the Nuvi 1340T is quite a bit cheaper and worth a look.

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