Polarized Sunglasses and Garmin

 

Color LCD screens use polarizing filters. They shine the background light through a polarizing filter, then through the 3 color sub-pixels (which upset the polarization), then they use another polarizing filter at a 90 degree angle to the first to block out light that didn't pass through one of the colored sub-pixels.

Good sunglasses are often polarized. Polarized lenses, if oriented properly, can block much of the glare from reflected surfaces (such as water surfaces) because shallow angle reflected light tends to be polarized. Because of this, the orientation of the polarized lenses in sunglasses is standardized.

I recently bought a pair of sunglasses that are polarized. I soon noticed that when driving with them my Garmin nuvi 250 is extremely dark. Sure enough, I was able to confirm that if I rotated the sunglasses or the nuvi that the extra darkness went away. What this is telling me is that the orientation of the top polarizing filter in the nuvi is 90 degrees from the orientation in common polarized sunglasses and that this causes most of the light to be blocked out.

This strikes me as a huge mistake. If Garmin had simply reversed the orientation of the two filters in the display, this problem would be avoided. And it is pretty reasonable to assume that many drivers who buy a Garmin GPS might also wear polarized sunglasses when driving. There are other solutions too. A 45 degree angle on both GPSr filters would result in little extra darkening but would allow the display to work properly in GPS devices that can be rotated for use in either horizontal or vertical orientation. But the way that my 250 is built makes it nearly useless when wearing polarized glasses.

Have others seen this? Have any newer Garmin units addressed this problem? If the problem is not addressed in newer units that can be rotated in either orientation, which orientation works properly and which darkens? And how many saw this but never really understood what they were seeing?

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I too....

experienced the same issues with my sunglasses. I tend to wear them lower on my nose so I can see my GPS above the lenses.

--
RKF (Bethesda, MD) Garmin Nuvi 660, 360 & Street Pilot

Garmin's fault?

I wear polarized sunglasses most of the time and have very little problem with seeing the display on any of my units. The standard polarization is vertical meaning the horizontal rays which cause the most glare is blocked. Perhaps it's your sunglasses that aren't polarized correctly.

--
ɐ‾nsǝɹ Just one click away from the end of the Internet

Yep, same here.

My regular sunglasses are not polarized so it's not an issue, but when I wear my prescription polarized sunglasses, I can't see my 3597LMTHD very well at all. Never had this problem with earlier GPSrs.

no, I've checked

a_user wrote:

Perhaps it's your sunglasses that aren't polarized correctly.

I'm pretty sure that the glasses are right. In addition to the intent to cut reflected glare that would not work if the orientation were changed, I've compared them to multiple other brands in stores, and all are polarized the same way. They show light passing when oriented the same way as the other glasses, and light blocked when the glasses I'm comparing them to are rotated 90 degrees.

Also worth noting is that the monitor that I'm using at this moment has it's filters oriented in the way that I would call "correctly", its screen only darkens if I rotate my lenses 90 degrees. Not that I would expect monitor makers to be as concerned with this as GPS manufacturers should be. It may well be just chance that the top layer of my monitor's orientation matches sunglasses.

i have a 255

Frovingslosh wrote:
a_user wrote:

Perhaps it's your sunglasses that aren't polarized correctly.

I'm pretty sure that the glasses are right.

I have a 255 which is a later version of your 250 and I don't have a problem viewing the screen with polarized glasses. I can understand the issue on those units that switch from horizontal to vertical orientation as the polarizing filter would be fixed so it would then rotate from vertical to horizontal effectively blocking the screen.

--
"In order to be old and wise, one first must have been young and stupid."

I just wish the screen was

I just wish the screen was twice the size for these old eyes.

Interesting topic -I just

Interesting topic -
I just ran thru some experiments - here is what I found.

device ---------- rotation of sunglass to black
old LCD monitor -- 90°
new LCD monitor -- 45° rt
newer 15" laptop - 45° rt
newer 11" laptop - 45° left = not total black
old laptop ------- 45° left
old laptop ------- 45° rt
ipod touch ------- 30° rt
smart phone ------ * ---- Motorola Droid Pro
Nuvi 765 ---------- *
GPS 60 CSx ------- none -- with or w/o backlight
LCD TV ----------- 45° rt
plasma TV -------- none

* = color blotches are seen when rotating sunglass but the screen does not lose noticeable brightness at any point in the rotation.

bottom line = YMMV

Possible "fix"

The radio display on 1 series BMWs cannot be seen through polarized sunglasses. The "solution" is to play with a piece of overhead presentation material until you get the orientation "right" and then cut out a piece to cover the display. The same thing might work on the nuvi.

This is the mostly clear plastic film you can print on to make overheads for a projector. Thi is a rapidly diminising business use but I think you can still buy the material.

Me Too

rkf wrote:

experienced the same issues with my sunglasses. I tend to wear them lower on my nose so I can see my GPS above the lenses.

That's what I do.

I have the same problem with the car's in-dash LCD display for the radio & climate controls and at gas pumps with LCD displays. I have to take off my sunglasses to read these displays, or look over the top. cool

--
Tampa, FL - Garmin nüvi 660 (Software Ver 4.90), 2019.20 CN NA NT maps | Magellan Meridian Gold

Only an issue with some nuvis for me

Used to have an issue with my nuvi 360 but no issues with polarized lenses with my 1450. Maybe they changed something in the screen.

Depolarize?

JimD1 wrote:

The radio display on 1 series BMWs cannot be seen through polarized sunglasses. The "solution" is to play with a piece of overhead presentation material until you get the orientation "right" and then cut out a piece to cover the display. The same thing might work on the nuvi.

This is the mostly clear plastic film you can print on to make overheads for a projector. Thi is a rapidly diminising business use but I think you can still buy the material.

Are you saying this material somehow "depolarize" the light? Intersting, I need to try when I can put my hands on a piece of that material.

change where you put the gps

I use polarized sunglasses exclusively, and never have the problem.

I have tried to duplicate your problem and found that, when I have difficulty to see the GPS screen, the location of the GPS is usually forcing me to take my eyes of the road, which is dangerous.

You need to put the GPS in a place that does not block the view through windshield and also easy to see without turning your head when vehicle is in motion.

Wow ...

Glad I read this before I spent money on polarized lenses ... some days I have a hard enough time seeing my nuvi 2455 in bright sunlight as it is.

--

it's the dog's fault

--
Garmin nuvi 2455 - nuvi 350, 260 (spares) - my other toys: Mac Mini, MacBook Pro, MacOS High Sierra (10.13.4) and introducing The Beast, a 2013 Dodge Charger Pursuit and his Garmin nuvi 2555. The dog's name is Ginger

location, location, location. Err, no

cameotabby wrote:

You need to put the GPS in a place that does not block the view through windshield and also easy to see without turning your head when vehicle is in motion.

My GPS is up high, next to the rear view mirror. That way it doesn't block my view of the road, only of UFO's that might abduct me. I consider this safe, since it is also the part of the windshield that is blocked if I lower the sun visor. I even lower the visor and just go by audio directions when driving through Virginia so that I don't get into any disputes with power mad Virginia cops. And it is a bit closer than if it were low and in the corner where California says it should be. Closer makes it easier to read and also easier to touch. The power cord wraps twice around the rear view mirror, stopping any fall when the mount suction cup eventually gives up and releases from the glass.

But it isn't a matter of position. It is that normal polarized sunglasses are polarized vertically, and the front filter on my nuvi 250 seems to be polarized horizontally. That adds up to darkness no mater where I put it unless I rotate it so that it isn't horizontal to my line of sight.

Interesting tip

JimD1 wrote:

The radio display on 1 series BMWs cannot be seen through polarized sunglasses. The "solution" is to play with a piece of overhead presentation material..

This is an interesting tip. I wouldn't have expected any such material to upset the polarization unless it were frosted enough to also make reading of small text (like text on the GPSr maps) much more difficult. I'm sure that I have some sheets of this stuff around somewhere that I got in "sample packs", although I'm less certain that what I have is the same as what you say worked for some people. There might well be multiple makers and only a very few types that actually break the polarization.

But tell me about the series 1 BMW radio. Is it a touch screen or only a display? Clearly I can't be doing this "fix" if I can no longer use the touch screen. Will this prevent me from using the touch screen or make the touches less accurate?

Please do an additional test

Box Car wrote:

I have a 255 which is a later version of your 250 and I don't have a problem viewing the screen with polarized glasses.

Actually, I find this extremely interesting because I have one of the last 250 that were produced, and they were produced on the 255 hardware platform (faster processor, more memory, somewhat different software with round on-screen zoom buttons rather than the older square buttons). I would ask you to do the "rotation test" and see at what point, if any, you see the screen darken when the lens or GPS receiver is rotated.

If you see a darkening at the 90 degree point it could mean that Garmin is buying different displays from different suppliers and that (at least when our devices were made) that they don't specify what orientation the filters in the displays should be. I consider that a serious mistake for a device made for use while driving. It could also mean that the supplier may cut some filters oriented differently than others, perhaps to maximize yield from the sheets of polarizing material. Or that they simply are not consistent about which filter they put in the rear and which they put in the front.

Assuming that your glasses are polarized and you see darkening at some point, then the implication is that, if you want to avoid this problem, no amount of research is going to help. You have to buy your GPSr from a brick and mortar retailer and see the actual one that you are buying in operation (not the demo unit). Comparing by model numbers may not be enough.

backward nuvi?

Frovingslosh wrote:

But it isn't a matter of position. It is that normal polarized sunglasses are polarized vertically, and the front filter on my nuvi 250 seems to be polarized horizontally.

Is it possible that some of the nuvis have their horizontal filter installed up front and others have the vertical one?

I have Maui Jim's sunglasses

I have Maui Jim's sunglasses and no problem seeing the nuvi 350...at steep angles there's a color streaks but when in the correct viewing angle, no problem.

--
-Chris

2x Nuvi 660's here, and same

2x Nuvi 660's here, and same thing happens...

--
A 2689LMT in both our cars that we love... and a Nuvi 660 with Lifetime Maps that we have had literally forever.... And a 2011 Ford Escape with Nav System that is totally ignored!

great info

ruggb wrote:

Interesting topic -
I just ran thru some experiments - here is what I found.

Great info ruggb.
I'm confused about what the GPS 60 CSx is telling us, but since you mention that it has the option to turn off the backlight it is clearly a very special type of display. I have had the backlight fail in a LCD display and only with a very strong flashlight could I tell that the display itself was still trying to display and only the backlight had failed. Normally such a display just looks black.

You have inspired me to do my own survey. Here are my results:

Garmin nuvi 250 (new hardware platform). Dark with lens in normal position, light when lens is rotated 90 degrees to normal.

39" Coby TV (currently being used as a computer monitor) and a 37" Visio TV (first and last Visio product I'll ever buy): Both go dark when viewed through a lens 90 degrees to normal.

HP Laptops DV6113us and ZE4240: both darken when lens is rotated 45 degrees CCW.

LDC monitors HannsG and very old EIZO: both darken when lens is rotated 45 degrees CW.

Samsung Blackjack phone: Darkens with lens at 45 degrees CW.

Cheap Pandigital Android tablet: Very readable in landscape mode. Darkens when held in portrait mode, but not nearly as dark as my Nuvi or other devices. Darkening shows some banding. Not quite sure what is going on here.

And here's what I find the most interesting:
Canon A590 IS camera: Works in both Horizontal and vertical position. When the lens is rotated 45 degrees CW the image takes on an extremely yellow tint. When the lens is rotated 45 degree CCW the image takes on a very strong cyan (blue) tint. The image never completely darkens.

Clearly the 45 degree position on some of these screen's polarizing lenses has advantages over the lenses that I have in my nuvi.

wasn't expecting this but yea

-Nomad- wrote:

Is it possible that some of the nuvis have their horizontal filter installed up front and others have the vertical one?

This is very likely. Garmin likely has multiple suppliers, and I fear that they don't spec the polarization of the front filter. This has bad implications for anyone trying to research a Garmin GPS. To avoid the polarized sunglasses issue you pretty much have to buy your nuvi through a brick and mortar store when you can see that actual nuvi that you are buying turned on. Not just the display model (if the display model has a real screen at all and not just a colored overlay).

please rotate your glasses

Anyone doing a test with polarized sunglasses and reporting that they don't see a problem, please rotate your glasses and let us know if the screen darkens at some other rotation and if so at what angle (likely 45 degrees or 90 degrees). If you don't see a darkening, please check your glasses against an LCD monitor and confirm that they are really polarized.

Poaorized

I have a 3490 and I have the same problem.

I often take a look at the screen and freak out because all I see is black. I automatically think my GPS is broken.

But then I realize I have to tilt my head to see the screen.

Other drivers must be looking at me and thinking "Oh, look at that poor guy, he is so deformed he can't even straighten his neck".

If I'm using the GPS to find a location that is new to me, I have to remove my sunglasses completely so I can safely see the screen without doing acrobatics.

Same thing

rkf wrote:

experienced the same issues with my sunglasses. I tend to wear them lower on my nose so I can see my GPS above the lenses.

I do the same

--
Larry - Nuvi 680, Nuvi 1690, Nuvi 2797LMT

Pilot's Solution

I mentioned this problem to an optometrist once, and he said some airline pilots specify one sun glass lens polarized and the other non-polarized--for viewing LCD instruments.

My

Frovingslosh wrote:

Anyone doing a test with polarized sunglasses and reporting that they don't see a problem, please rotate your glasses and let us know if the screen darkens at some other rotation and if so at what angle (likely 45 degrees or 90 degrees). If you don't see a darkening, please check your glasses against an LCD monitor and confirm that they are really polarized.

My 3597LMTHD is fine in the horizontal or vertical position but turn it 45 degrees in a clockwise direction and it darkens so it's almost impossible to see the map. Turning it counter clockwise has no affect on the visibility of the screen.

The 3790 darkens at 45 degrees when turned in a counter clockwise direction but not when turned clockwise.

--
Nuvi 350, 760, 1695LM, 3790LMT, 2460LMT, 3597LMTHD, DriveLuxe 50LMTHD and TomTom XXL540s, HereWeGo for Android.

.

t923347 wrote:

My 3597LMTHD is fine in the horizontal or vertical position but turn it 45 degrees in a clockwise direction and it darkens so it's almost impossible to see the map. Turning it counter clockwise has no affect on the visibility of the screen.

The 3790 darkens at 45 degrees when turned in a counter clockwise direction but not when turned clockwise.

That makes sense, if you continue turning it clockwise you will see that it should darken again at 135 degrees.

no problems with 2460--

No problems with my 2460. I wear polarized sunglasses all the time (well, when I'm in the car and the sun is up). The Nuvi isn't a problem; some other instruments and displays in the car are; one, I have to turn my head at an angle, or slide my sunglasses down to read certain parts of the display.

as others have noticed, depends on the orientation of the polarizer in the sunglasses, and in the display. It would seem the orientation is at best set randomly, and at worst, by our friend Murphy...

--
Nuvi 2460, 680, DATUM Tymserve 2100, Trimble Thunderbolt, Ham radio, Macintosh, Linux, Windows

Not a problem...

I wear polarized Nike sunglasses and have no issues whatsoever with my Nuvi 2595 or my wife's 2555. My iPad on the other hand...

I see

rkf wrote:

experienced the same issues with my sunglasses. I tend to wear them lower on my nose so I can see my GPS above the lenses.

I see GlobeTurtle has the same problem mrgreen mrgreen

--
All the worlds indeed a stage and we are merely players. Rush

Lol!

Those are my regular driving sunglasses.

My polarized are reserved for white water rafting and have to stay up or are lost to the river.

razz

~Angela

1 series BMW is not a touch screen

The radio display that is not visible through polarized lens is not a touch screen. But my iphone 4S is in an Otterbox which puts a piece of plastic over the touch screen display. Works fine.

Problem?

I'm using old airplane pilot sunglasses, with excellent polarization filter. And they are "mirror" type. Yeah, I know, not so cool now Top Gun style. They work excellent in curbing reflection from wet road or car windows. And my GPS may look darker through them, but it never was so bad, that would bother me. I keep my GPS in low left-bottom corner of my windshield. If you have difficulties to see GPS screen through sunglasses I see three solutions:

- take of sunglasses, or
- stop using GPS, or
- move GPS that it will be visible.

I don't think they will change construction of screen to make them fit sunglasses. Especially that in different shades there may be different polarization filter and it will not work again.

3D Glasses

Shrdlu wrote:

I mentioned this problem to an optometrist once, and he said some airline pilots specify one sun glass lens polarized and the other non-polarized--for viewing LCD instruments.

Just use a pair of 3D glasses from your local cinema. They have one lens polarized horizontal and the other vertical to get the 3D effect.

--
Live every day like it's your last. Some day you'll be right - Benny Hill

bad information given

rlohnes wrote:

Just use a pair of 3D glasses from your local cinema. They have one lens polarized horizontal and the other vertical to get the 3D effect.

NO. This is both bad advice and dead wrong advice.
First of all, cinema 3D type glasses offer no UV protection. Second, they are not polarized like that. There were cardboard 3D glasses back in the 60's and early 70's that used that design. But modern 3D glasses, such as "RealD" theater glasses or even the glasses made for use with LG 3D TVs, use "circularly polarized" lenses. One lens is clockwise polarized, the other counter clockwise polarized. Do a Google search on "circular polarized 3d" for more details.

And other glasses made for 3D TVs that use an active shutter principle and alternately block the vision to each eye will not work for this purpose either.

Maybe not all 3D glasses are the same

Frovingslosh wrote:

cinema 3D type glasses ... are not polarized like that.

The 3D glasses for the movie Avatar in 2009 were linear polarized. They also used a thin plastic film for the “lens”. I know because I used a pair to make a darkener for a seriously over bright display. Just rotate two pieces until you get the desired darkening and then glue them in place.

My glasses

I had noticed a dark screen when using polarized glasses. Since most of mine are that way, I just have to take them off to see the GPS. I have a 255.

Me too...

Great analysis of the problem 99% of us are seeing. I hope you will take it a step further and convey the issue and possible solutions to Garmin.

--
Garmin Drive Smart 61 NA LMT-S

Vent clips

Frovingslosh wrote:
cameotabby wrote:

You need to put the GPS in a place that does not block the view through windshield and also easy to see without turning your head when vehicle is in motion.

My GPS is up high, next to the rear view mirror. That way it doesn't block my view of the road, only of UFO's that might abduct me. I consider this safe, since it is also the part of the windshield that is blocked if I lower the sun visor. I even lower the visor and just go by audio directions when driving through Virginia so that I don't get into any disputes with power mad Virginia cops. And it is a bit closer than if it were low and in the corner where California says it should be. Closer makes it easier to read and also easier to touch. The power cord wraps twice around the rear view mirror, stopping any fall when the mount suction cup eventually gives up and releases from the glass.

But it isn't a matter of position. It is that normal polarized sunglasses are polarized vertically, and the front filter on my nuvi 250 seems to be polarized horizontally. That adds up to darkness no mater where I put it unless I rotate it so that it isn't horizontal to my line of sight.

I moved from the windshield suction cup to the beanbag to vent clips (very cheap on ebay) - think these are the best, moves the Garmin closer to you and way from the sun - but still have some sunglass/glass issues. Going to experiment with some overhead projector film (assuming I can find some).

--
Garmin Drive Smart 61 NA LMT-S

HUD too

Polarized sunglasses may hide things you didn't expect.
A few years back, I tested a car with a heads-up display (HUD). I could see it at all and the vendor riding with me was puzzled until we realized I was wearing polarized sunglasses. They would completely cut off the display reflecting on the windshield.

Likely was the same problem

jale wrote:

Polarized sunglasses may hide things you didn't expect.
A few years back, I tested a car with a heads-up display (HUD). I could see it at all and the vendor riding with me was puzzled until we realized I was wearing polarized sunglasses. They would completely cut off the display reflecting on the windshield.

Reflection from the windshield should not have caused the problem. It seems likely that the real problem was that the HUD was LCD based and suffered the same problem as some Garmin GPS units, the polarization filter on the top surface was such that it caused the display to darken completely when viewed through polarized sunglasses. Another case of this same poor design.

Likely was the same problem

Yet another dup. Didn't think I even clicked twice that time.

Stopped buying polarized

Most of my Amateur radios displays go black with them.. So I stopped buying them years ago.

yodyoddoh

yodyoddoh

--
nuvi 250 --> 1250T --> 265T Lost my 1250T

.

Mine are HD sunglasses. Not sure if they are polarized or not but no problem seeing the screen on my 2595lmt.

Thanks for this info. I was

Thanks for this info. I was having same issue with my 3597. Changing the angle makes all the difference.

--
Iphone 6 Plus, Nuvicam, Nuvi 3597LMTHD,765T,1490LMT

Polarization of 3597 screen - the long story

In the normal "wide view" position, my new 3597 is somewhat darkened by my sunglasses. If I tip my head about 25 degrees in the correct direction (right), it lightens up. I tried putting the unit in the "narrow view" orientation, which of course also makes the map rotate 90 degrees, and it is better, with no real darkening unless I really tip my head, or the unit. I then put the unit in front of my computer screen, and with sunglasses on, found that the orientation or "rotation degrees" to darken, are almost the same for both screens. I can make both screens go dark with about a 30 degree tilt of the head - to the left, with a slight increase in brightness of both with a tilt to the right. So - does this mean Garmin is setting them this way, to be like a LCD screen? Sure would be nice if they turned it about 25 more degrees for the lightest view. I'm pretty sure my glasses are oriented correctly. I like the idea of one lens polarized, one not, but I'm not sure which eye I want the sun glaring on!

3D glasses

I dug out a pair of the Real3D glasses, and see what you mean. They give a blue effect in one direction and a yellow effect in the other, at least looking at this LCD display and the GPS unit. No darkening of the screen, but as you say, no UV protection and also wouldn't necessarily stop glare from the windshield or road. Looks like we're stuck looking over the top of polarized, or going non-polarized, or rotating the unit on it's mount to avoid darkened screens.

Garmin 3597

will check

I'll check this out

Polarized Sunglasses and Garmin

I have an 855 and use polarized glasses without any problems unless I turn my head 90 degrees right or left (very uncomfortable!)

--
DougJ - Ottawa, ON, CA
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