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Navman PiN GPS PocketPC

Is an integrated antenna enough?

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Reg review Once known for its expensive, dedicated in-car satellite navigation systems, Navman has found itself moving increasingly expanding downmarket over the last year or so. Look to the likes of Germany's Medion for the reason: its combination of low-cost PocketPC devices and wired GPS receivers has taken the European PDA market by storm and brought in-car navigation to a whole new group of consumers.

Navman and others have been forced to follow suit. While it has in the past produced navigation systems that clip onto HP iPaqs, the company has started to look to other devices, other PDA platforms. Just under a year ago, it launched a Bluetooth GPS receiver, the 4400, following it up with more advanced model, the 4410, earlier this year and later the 4460, its first PalmOS-oriented product.

Navman PiN GPS PocketPC

Round about the time the 4410 was launched, Taiwanese manufacturer Mitac unveiled the world's first PocketPC with an integrated GPS antenna. It's wasn't the first PDA with built-in GPS - that honour goes to Garmin's PalmOS-based iQue - but it drew plenty of attention, particularly among PC and PDA vendors with an eye on Medion's success.

The Mio 168 finally arrived in the UK in April this year, courtesy of local reseller Evesham, which bundled the device with ALK's CoPilot PocketPC 4 navigation software. Not one to miss a trick, Navman announced a similar product in July.

And here it is, the Navman PiN, a rebadged Mio. Don't take myword for it: the PiN's model number is 'mio168'. Like the standard Mio 168, the PiN isn't a bad PocketPC, though its spec. has seen better days and it's looking distinctly underpowered when lined up alongside the latest iPaqs and Axims. It's processor runs to 300MHz, there's only 64MB of RAM and no wireless connectivity beyond infra-red. These drawbacks are unlikely to bother anyone interested in the device solely for navigation. More relevant to them is the PiN's display, which isn't too clear in bright daylight, but at least has a decent horizontal viewing angle - handy for in-car use, where it isn't necessarily going to be in direct line of sight.

The PiN's GPS antenna folds against the back of the device. Raising it into a horizontal position is all you need do to get it ready for use. Navman bundles the usual in-car mounting kit, though the integrated receiver means the PDA needs to be coupled to the windscreen rather than the front of the dash, depending on how far back the glass extends.

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