Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sat Nav: Garmin 3790T with SE Asia Maps (Top Pick)

I have previously written about how useful I found the iPhone combined with the Maps application on my first trip to Malaysia. It was great for navigating my way round the back streets of KL and Georgetown either to find a restaurant or bar, work out which direction to head in to get to 'X' and for such things like finding an HSB ATM in KL (search HSBC on Maps and hit 'Directions' and bingo). One problem with this solution though is that it can really hammer the battery, especially with an iPhone 3GS. Indeed this is one reason I didn't upgrade to the iPhone 4 as I am looking for a significantly better battery life and hope the '5' or even '6' will deliver it. The '4' though is still better than the 3GS. For those contemplating this very viable solution, particularly if you contemplate being out for the day, the purchase of one of the mobile battery backs such as the Just Mobile Gum Plus at around $60 / £50 from Amazon US /UK would be a something worth considering. There are cheaper options out there but these are very good and I much prefer them to the battery 'cases' that add a great deal of bulk to the phone.

As I am going to Penang to live however I am in a position to look at other options also and I already own a Garmin 3790t Sat Nav. Now I'm not a big Sat Nav person but I have to say I do like this device. I won't write a lengthy review here is a very capable job of that has already been done here. Suffice it to say the device is very well made, very light and thin, and has a very large/clear screen. Battery life on it is also surprisingly good. Like a number of other devices this can be used when you are on foot also but for me it is the svelte nature of it that makes carrying it around viable option. It is really easy to use and does provide much better navigation than others I have used. It can also connect to your mobile phone by Bluetooth while driving making taking calls a safer option. At around $340 / £250 these devices are premium price for a Sat Nav but in this case I do think it's a case of you get what you pay for.

If you take the plunge and opt for one of these you will of course need maps and this is the beauty of this device for me in that Garmin have their City Navigator SE Asia Map which can be downloaded or bought on Micro SD disk for $99 (I bought it from Garmin.com and downloaded it for $99 while in Malaysia versus the Garmin UK option where you will pay £99!!). At 222Mb the Map will fit easily on the device which in my case had over 1,500 MB available space (it already being pre-loaded with European maps). The SE Map download for me is a bargain covering Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Macau, Hong Kong and thePhilippines, all places that I will visit and where it will be great to have a reliable Sat Nav to help either get there or finding your way around by vehicle or on foot once there. Much better, for me, than carting around maps and books.

In my view the Garmin 3790t (particularly as I had one anyway) and the SE Asia Map pack would be an excellent addition to you inventory, especially for those planning to live within or make regular visits to the region. I wouldn't generally clutter my *Top Pick* section with non-venue based selections but it is well justified in this case.

NB: A more recent (March 2013) and updated post about SatNav systems for use in Malaysia / Thailand can be found here.

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