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Navman GPS 4400 Bluetooth navigator

Are we there yet, dad?

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Are we there yet, dad?
Route planning is also inconsistent and illogical. Change the route from the same London location to a different part of Milton Keynes, for example, and it comes up with a different route to the motorway. We had the software set to choose the quickest route, but it often picked roads that seem the best when looking at a map, but are by no means the quickest on the ground.

Of course, the software only has the official road classifications to go by and can't know about the quirks of the classification process - or the degree to which some London car owners insist on parking in narrow streets. The software's quickest route is often also the shortest, but the two aren't necessarily the same. But only true local knowledge allows the best route to be chosen. Still, it can't be argued that the software doesn't get you where you want to be, right down to a particular house in a particular street. It's also good at getting you through some very complex junctions.

Software

There are more pragmatic problems. We found SmartST Pro to be buggy and it likes to hog the iPaq to itself. When it's running, it's hard to quit - there's no obvious Exit button, and it hides the Windows Mobile task bar when it's in map and menu modes. If you do manage to hop over to another app - say, Bluetooth Manager, to turn off the connection, SmartST Pro has a habit of coming back to the front. Break the Bluetooth and it calls up Bluetooth Manager to persuade you to re-establish the connection.

Often, having reached a destination, we attempted to select a new one, but found the software would not recognise the address. Force-quitting the app was the only way we could enter a new destination.

Navman tells us that a number of these issues have now been fixed in a service pack available from its web site.

Verdict

Software issues aside, the Navman 4400 is undoubtedly a good navigation system, and one that makes perfect use of Bluetooth to keep two devices at arm's length. That makes it possible to immediately turn the Pocket PC from a navigation tool to a regular PDA - only SmartST Pro gets in the way. Having recoded the software to operate with different GPS hardware, Navman now needs to adapt it to life as one app among many and not the only program that will be run.

Once we were up and running, we enjoyed using the Navman 4400. It takes a while to trust the system to know how to get you where you want to go, but it never once caused us to question that trust, only its ability to pick the best route. But only locally - outside our stomping ground, we found it easy to follow its spoken directions.

And, with the new 'no holding while driving' mobile phone and PDA law now in place, we soon reached the point where we didn't feel the need to pick up the iPaq and check the map. That's crucial if you have no dashboard mount for the Pocket PC and you want to stay legal.

One disappointment was the lack of Palm OS support. Navman has supported Palm devices in the past, and we'd like it to continue doing so, especially with the Tungsten 3's slick screen. ®

Navman GPS 4400
Rating 75%
Pros — Flexible Bluetooth connection to a PDA
— Quickly replots your route when you take a wrong turn
— Spoken directions for hands-free usage
Cons — Curious choice of routes
— No Palm OS support
— Buggy software (fixes available)
Price £351.33 including VAT
More info The Navman web site

Visit The Reg's Review Channel for more hardware coverage

Buy the Navman GPS 4400 from The Register Mobile Store

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