Navman iCN 320 low-cost GPS navigator

Too many corners cut?

Navman iCN 320Review Navman is hoping to win back business from its PDA-based GPS rivals by creating a new range of budget units that offer a scaled down version of its advanced rigs but at a fraction of the cost. One of the first, the Navman iCN 320 is for the GPS newcomer. There's no large touchscreen, and everything is controlled from buttons placed on either side of the screen. As for the screen itself, although fairly large, it looks incredibly small compared to the unit, writes Stuart Miles.

Rather than take the usual approach and present a large map with moving pointer, Navman has opted to reduce the map to a small 2cm square and use the rest of the screen to display the next direction arrow you will take, along with the name of the road you are going to be turning on to and a meter that counts down the distance to your next instruction. It's a novel idea and one that the missus liked very much. No longer did she have to look at a map, but merely listen to instructions given to her in either a male or female voice.

For me, however, the opposite was the case. I found the lack of a map - handy to clarify things if the instructions are a little loose - very annoying. What makes things worse is that while you can view the list of directions coming up to get a rough understanding of what to expect on your journey, it's very hard to find how you access this list. In fact, we didn't know it existed until Navman pointed it out to us.

London always pushes GPS units to the limit. With its tiny streets and numerous junctions, it's easy to blink and miss your next turning. Too many times the unit's voice commanded a left turn when two were stacked side-by-side. More often than not the result was we had to take a gamble - one that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.

Out of town, admittedly, the problem isn't so bad. On our test runs out of the city, the voice commands became easier to understand. However, choosing miles as your prime unit - as most Brits are likely to - will give you the proximity distances in feet rather than the more useful yards. Selecting kilometres will give you a countdown in metres - you can't have a mixture of both.

Navman iCN 320

Working out of the box with the map pre-installed you can see why the iCN 320 is apt for the GPS newbie. However, those wishing to grow will find customisation options thin on the ground compared to other, albeit slightly more expensive systems. You can't enter your own points of interest, for example, and there's no night mode for evening driving. You can't tell it to re-route you round traffic jams.

There's an option that will inform you when your route takes in a toll-road, say, but you have to manually re-plan the route again if you want to avoid it. Even then, at times, the software got confused over which streets the London Congestion Charging zone covers.

Verdict

With full-function GPS units costing only fractionally more than this device, Navman has cut too many corners to make the £279 iCN320 really worth considering.

The small screen and failure to present a decent-sized map meant that at one point we actually had to consult a paper map to see what was going on, which defeats the object of GPS. If it's going to focus on direction arrows, Navman should have made them bigger and ditched the map altogether - as it is, it's so small there seems little point to it.

Review by
Pocket-Lint.co.uk

Navman iCN 320
 
Rating 70%
 
Pros Simple to use, works out of the box.
 
Cons Clunky to use; map view too small; not enough customisation options.
 
Price £270 inc VAT
 
More info The iCN 320 site