Garmin nuLink 2390 June 2011

View live traffic cameras on the move

The Garmin nuLink 2390 is a new sat nav from Garmin with PhotoLive - a feature that allows you to access live road cameras to see traffic and congestion for yourself. We haven't got it to the labs yet, but here are our first impressions.

Garmin nuvi2390 Sat nav
 

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What are the key features?

The Garmin nuLink 2390 is a 4.3-inch, internet-connected sat nav, which adds the ability download live traffic and other information straight to the device. TomTom pioneered this technology and Garmin's version, called 3D Traffic, works in a similar way. Garmin, however, has gone one step further in adding a system it calls PhotoLive, a mode where you can view live traffic cameras to see what's ahead.

How does 3D Traffic work?

The main live service on nuLink models is 3D Traffic. This competes with HD Traffic on TomTom connected models, such as the TomTom Go Live 1000. 3D Traffic works well on the 2390, showing roads with congestion in your area clearly, and offering an alternative route when a quicker one exists. Other live services include Google Local Search, enabling you to find local services, Dynamic Parking with live prices to help you find the nearest and cheapest place to park, Weather Forecast, nearby fuel prices and more. Most of these live services are free for one year, with a further year costing £45.

Related: Choosing a sat nav guide

What is PhotoLive and is it useful?

A new feature on the 2390 is PhotoLive. With this, you can access live images from traffic cameras and assess the traffic situation yourself. Traffic cameras are situated in urban areas mainly, there are over 700 in the London area alone.

When you access PhotoLive, you are presented with a list of your nearest traffic cameras, in ascending order of distance. You select one by pressing the touchscreen, and that brings up the image which you can then maximise for a clearer view. You can have up to four traffic cameras displayed at any one time.

It can be useful to view the traffic at an upcoming junction or main road, but the image is often several minutes old and due to the fast-changing nature of traffic flow this could be useless. Also, during one drive in wet weather, some of the traffic camera images we accessed were very unclear due to condensation and raindrops on the traffic camera lens.

PhotoLive is available as a month's free trial - thereafter it's £3.95 a month. We like the novelty factor and think it's OK for occasional checks when traffic is extremely heavy, but we can't see many circumstances when it'll prove to be invaluable.

What's it like to use?

The 2390 has a 4.3-inch screen, which is a good size for keeping things clear and easy to view. Although the home screen is simple and it's easy to get started, we found entering a postcode and address quite fiddly initially as the buttons are quite small. It gets easier with practice, though. The 2390 comes with voice recognition for inputting town and street names and finding a destination from your favourites. This works well, even with the radio on. 

Audio commands when navigating are clear, but the voice sounds rather robotic and harsh, especially at high volumes. It's not as pleasant to listen to as some other models.

PhotoReal Junction View helps you navigate at complicated motorways exits and major A-road junctions by providing a detailed, more true-to-life view of the junction ahead. Garmin hopes to include this feature to non-major road junctions in future.

Are there other versions?

Alongside the 2390, the Garmin has launched the nuLink 2340 and nuLink 2320. They are similar looking models, with a number of key internal differences

The 2390 has voice recognition for inputting an address, and pre-loaded maps for the whole of Europe. The other two models lack voice recognition, and make do with only Western Europe maps (nuLink 2340) and UK and Ireland maps (2320).

When and where can you buy it?

The Garmin nuLink 2390 costs £230, the nuLink 2340 costs £200 and the nuLink 2320 costs £180. All are on sale now.

For more options, read our sat nav reviews of over 100 sat navs from all the leading brands.

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