Garmin's been on a roll at CES 2013. In addition to its Edge 810 and Edge 510 dedicated biking devices, the company is also showing off its new 2013 nüvi model dedicated GPS units. The systems, which we were fortunate enough to get hands-on time with prior to the show, include voice activated controls, Garmin Real Directions and the company's new Active Lane Guidance feature.
The models range from the king-of-the-hill 5-inch nüvi 3597 Prestige series to the 4.3-inch Essential series. The nüvi 3597 is an exceptionally attractive device with its large display, thin profile and brushed-metal chassis.
Unlike those ancient GPS units you used to have to lug around, the 3597 is incredibly light and, quite frankly, feels more like a smartphone than a GPS unit. In addition to its handsome design, the nüvi 3597 features a magnetic mount that allows users to quickly snap the device into and out of its holder.
While its elegant design is noteworthy, the nüvi 3597's main draw is its Real Directions and Active Lane Guidance features. Real Directions helps users better understand their route by providing them with navigation tips based on landmarks rather than simple street names.
Garmin says the device will be able to tell users to "turn right after the Starbucks," rather than "Turn right on Maple Street." A spokesperson for Garmin explained that the company reps had to physically drive through areas that activate the Real Directions feature in order to make sure the landmarks the system uses are easily visible to drivers.
Garmin's Active Lane Guidance helps make driving through interchanges and reaching highway off ramps easier by splitting the display in half, with one side offering a magnified view of the intersection to help ensure that users are in the correct lane when taking an exit.
Other enhancements to the Garmin line include Garmin Express, which helps make updating your GPS unit easier, a much needed improvement, and Up Ahead, which gives users quick access to nearby points-of-interest, speed limits and other warnings.
Overall, we found the nüvi 3597 to be a welcome change to the GPS formula. Whether or not users will abandon their smartphone GPS for the device remains to be seen.