Garmin designed the Nuvi 3790T to be the thinnest, lightest portable navigation device ever and to go toe-to-toe with the iPhone in a fashion show. Though we're not certain that the Nuvi would win such a matchup, by setting its standards so high Garmin has essentially solidified the 3790T's spot as the sexiest dedicated GPS device you can buy.
Garmin started by making things thin. At 4.8 inches wide and 2.9 inches tall, it doesn't look much smaller than your average PND while in its packaging, but unbox it and lay it side by by side with any automotive portable navigator and the svelte nature of the 3790T's chassis becomes evident. At 0.35 inch thick, this Nuvi is about half the thickness of any other Garmin, thinner even than the iPhone 4. The Nuvi features an array of materials that feel high quality, including a glass screen, chrome-finished edges, and a rear panel that is split between a black brushed-metal texture and a glossy-black-plastic panel, presumably to allow GPS and Bluetooth signals to penetrate.
The 3790T is only 4 ounces; the light weight and the slim profile make this Nuvi very pocketable. However, to our hands it feels a smidge too light, coming off as delicate and a bit fragile. We'd prefer more heft and solidity.
The only physical control on the 3790T's chassis is the power/lock button located on the device's top edge. Tapping this button brings up the lock screen, from where you can choose between locking the touch screen and putting the device into a sleep state. Holding this button toggles the unit's power on and off.
Along the right edge of the device is an unlabeled microSD card slot, and along the bottom edge are the connections for the car dock and a Micro-USB sync cable. At the upper left corner of the glass screen is a small hole, behind which sits the microphone that enables the 3790T to receive voice commands and to act as a speakerphone.
Like most GPS devices, the majority of the user's interactions with the Nuvi 3790T take place at the touch screen. This unit is built around a 4.3-inch TFT display with a resolution of 800x480 pixels. Touch sensitivity is capacitive rather than the normal resistive screen. As a result, the screen requires considerably less pressure to register a touch than previous Nuvis, making typing with the onscreen keyboard a much easier affair. This technology also enables the use of multitouch commands, such as pinch to zoom while browsing the map. However, there are compromises to be made. The capacitive screen requires direct contact with the skin to function and cannot be used while wearing gloves--not very good news for people in icy climates. Additionally, the glossy glass screen, though sharper than the matte finish of other Nuvi models, doesn't perform as well in direct sunlight, throwing up serious glare and washing out. The display is still visible and legible, but for daytime navigation, we prefer the matte finish applied to the rest of the Nuvi line.
Like the 295W that came before, the 3790T features an internal accelerometer that can detect the device's orientation and switch between landscape and portrait screen layouts. The former is best for in-car use, and the latter for handheld pedestrian use, but one could use either orientation anywhere.
The Nuvi 3790T ships with a suction cup car dock, a 12-volt Micro-USB power cable, a Mini-USB sync cable, an adhesive dashboard mounting puck, and user guides in English and French.