Navigation leader Garmin announced a completely new line of portable navigation devices today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) boasting numerous detail improvements. These freshened devices will replace the models currently on sale.
While the bell-and-whistle laden Nuvi 3597 LMTHD really is all new, with a thin and stylish brushed metal case and five-inch glass screen, the rest of the lineup is really more evolutionary than revolutionary.
The lineup includes three series of devices: Basic Essential, Advanced, and Prestige.
Basic Essential series models have minimal frills, but do include lane assist with junction view (aka reality view) to help drivers find the correct lane at highway interchanges.
Advanced series models add Garmin Real Directions, which instructs drivers to turn at gas stations, traffic lights, and other landmarks, rather than simply saying "turn right in 500 feet." Devices we've tested in the past with this feature have given mixed results. (See our GPS navigation buying advice and Ratings.)
Active lane guidance adds voice instruction and more-detailed graphics to help guide drivers through complicated interchanges. And new voice-activated traffic gives verbal warnings about delays ahead, including estimates on how long the backup may be, and it can offer an alternative route. The driver can simply opt for the alternate route or decline by speaking their preference, for touch-free rerouting.
At the high end is the new Nuvi 3597 LMTHD, currently the only model in the new Prestige series. It stands out with a more sophisticated look than previous devices from Garmin, or any other PND for that matter. Beneath its snazzy exterior case, the Nuvi 3597 includes all the features of the Advanced series. But the real news is its innovative powered magnetic mount. All you need to do is hold the device near it, and the magnet guides snaps it securely into place. We have not had a chance to formally test it, but we tried it on a demo unit at the show. The slick system has the potential to be the easiest mount we've used.
Prices for Essential series models begin at $120, and that line will be in stores in January. Advanced models begin at $200, and the Prestige Nuvi 3597LMTHD is priced at $380. Both upper-level lines will be available around the end of March. We'll be bringing these new units into out labs for testing as soon as they become available.
See our complete CES 2013 coverage.