Navman Get The Mix Right At Last And Include Hands-Free Calling!
Navman used to be top of the pile when it came to in-car Satellite Navigation - with units like to 650 and 510 they sold as well as TomTom or Garmin, but while their competitors were adding Bluetooth so their users could have hands free calls on their Sat Nav's, Navman added low-quality digital cameras and enabled a feature called Navpix - a system of navigating to POI's via pictures rather than addresses.
Navpix just didn't catch the publics imagination like Bluetooth, so their sales suffered. Fear not, the new Navman range includes Bluetooth for hands-free via a compatible mobile / cell phone, still retains the Navpix camera, and adds text-to-speech and built-in Traffic information among other features. Lets take a look at their flagship top-of-the-range model, the Navman S90i.
Lets start with the outside of the unit, the wonderful new case and screen. Finished in black and silver with a gorgeous 4.3" Wide screen, gone are the quick-nav buttons from the previous models, everything is done with the touchscreen, sing your finger and not a stylus!
The Navman S90i comes pre-installed with street level maps of Europe, with Postcode look-up for the UK, 3d mapping, speed-cameras, so it ticks all the boxes as far as navigation goes. We have favourites, recent addresses, loads of Points of Interest, and of course Navpix. (Which we'll come to later.)
Data entry is via the touch-screen, and a much welcome addition is the choice of a Qwerty or Abcde keyboard, which also reads out the letters as you type them... the unit doesn't have any trouble finding addresses or Post Codes, so I've got no complaints there. The mapping is bright and clear, with plenty of warning of turns, and the text-to-speech function means that the road your turning onto get read out to you - a welcome addition, but most high-ends Sat Navs like the TomTom 720 and Garmin 660fm do that, lets now look at the extras.
As mentioned before Navman have now introduced Bluetooth for legal hands-free calling, so if your phone can do it, you'll be able to use your phone legally while driving. Combined with Text to speech the S90i can also read out text messages and import your contacts from your phone. Very good.
The Navman S90i also has an integrated RDS-TMC aerial to pick up traffic congestion information - if selected the unit will automatically guide you around traffic queues, and this is a subscription free service, so no worries about having to purchase a contract.
Navman have also stated that their speed-camera database now knows which way the cameras are facing (as well as traffic-light cameras), so you shouldn't get warnings when their is a speed-trap on the other side of the road, or if you are not traveling too close to the speed-limit.
Finally we have Navpix. You can use the built-in 2 mega-pixel camera to take shots of where you are, and the s90 will tag them with your current GPS position. You can then use those pics in the future to revisit those locations, or upload them to the the Navpix website, or more usefully, download other peoples GPS-tagged images to use yourself. So if you're going to France on holiday, why not download images of all the tourist attractions in Normandy, and have fun visiting them and making your own Navpix. The Navpix library is being expanded all the time, so it is starting to be a really useful feature, one that is so far unique to Navman.
SO do I recommend the Navman S90i as a good Sat Nav purchase? If we look at current prices you can get the S90i for about £270 - that's about the same price as a TomTom 720. Both have similair features and European mapping. The Navman has a camera, while the TomTom has an FM Modulator to direct sound through your car stereo speakers. You'll have to ask which is more useful to you, but Navpix does bring that extra dimension if you're using your Sat Nav on holiday or for days out.
Comments / Questions:
Do you know the Navman S80 Deluxe, currently on offer by Halfords at £140? Specs look great on paper, but is it easy to use for a non-techie?
Navmans are fine to use.
I have got used to the OEM fit sat nav in my Saab 93. Most of the time I know where I am going but the traffic information details in the area I am driving is v useful and saved me a number of times. I also use my sat nav as an expandable map so I can navigate myself around a town. The Navman S90 seems to be one of the few that can do what I wish (Tomtom just shows my car on the road and traffic on my route - not much use to the way I use these systems) and Becker Traffic seem to have similar features. However private reviews of the Navman have been v poor - poor response to inputs, fiddly power lead, malfunction and poor navigation ability have been some of them. Has Navman sorted these problems out? Alex.
You're right, the S90i gets mixed reviews, you want to get yourself down to your local electronic store and play with the TomTom's and Garmins - get them to set the map detail to high so you can see all the road-names, etc, and they may be suitable.
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