Sony's entry-level navigation effort is a net little device that offers far more functionality than its diminutive price tag would suggest. The World War II submarine-sounding U51 is the first Sony satnav to use the company's new Gesture Command technology, a method of inputting your route that Sony claims is easier and safer than trying to navigate menu systems and type addresses while traversing busy roundabouts at high speeds - though aren't you supposed to enter your destination before you start your journey?
Despite its none too imposing size, the Sony is a chunky piece of kit weighing in at 280g and accompanied by a screen-mount cradle that looks like it was designed by JCB - it's absolutely enormous. The anti-glare and anti-fingerprint 3.5in touchscreen is very good though, as you would perhaps expect from Sony, and it's through this that you get to experience Gesture Command.
This new technology essentially lets you draw a line or shape or scribble a command like 'get me home' on the U51's screen with your finger, which the system then interprets as directions to your destination - and that's it. Sounds odd, but in practise it's intriguing yet simple to use. Alongside traditional journey planning, you can use it for one-touch functions like returning home or heading to a specific POI.
The U51's menus are easy to navigate and the maps are intuitive, although we sometimes found the huge amount of on-screen information detracted from actually seeing our intended route. All standard functions are in attendance - 2D and 3D maps for the UK and Ireland, voice guidance and speed camera locator, with a month's free updates - but there's no MP3 player or Bluetooth.
The satnav equivalent of the state of Texas: everything is bigger and better with Navman's top-of-the-range N60i, a monstrous unit that packs pretty much every conceivable feature into its gargantuan frame.
Touting a superb TV-esque 4.3in touchscreen and weighing in at 240g, the N60i still manages to looks sleek and stylish dressed in an all-black frame with a simple run of chunky direct-access buttons along the right. Maps for 21 European countries are available through the 2GB of built-in Flash memory, and they're among the best we've seen in terms of layout, graphics and pure uncluttered usability.
As a navigation aid, the N60i is almost unrivalled, with a blindingly simple and clever menu system, one-touch access to the most commonly used functions, and a supremely quick start up and route builder. In use it was simply faultless.
But it's with the add-on features that the Navman really excels. None is essential, admittedly, but for gadget lovers it's an irresistible lure. Navpix is Navman's trick card - a built-in 1.3-megapixel camera means you can take a picture of a certain location and the N60i will store its GPS co-ordinates. You can then navigate back to it using the picture at a later date. Gimmicky maybe, but it's a fun feature nonetheless.
Elsewhere, there's the T1 traffic pack for constant traffic updates, a speed camera locator, lots of POIs alongside an import facility for adding your own, full eight-digit postcode search, voice guidance and plenty of fine-tuning options. But there's no Bluetooth or MP3 player. As pure satnav goes, the N60i is as good as it gets, but it comes with a hefty price tag.
we'er getting old .... or is it just me?
With respect to the non-map view .... yes we are getting old.
Kids dont have much exposure to real maps and have even less ability to read one. If you take a look at any of the games most play, the view is what most experience when navigating a game world, so for them, very intuitive.
As for the IPX-4, the marketing drones should be sent out into the middle of the channel with their GPS units as their only guide home. I have no love for marketing and their missinformation.
I am surprised at the steep price points though, as translated into C$ (~2:1 exchange) I see similar units here market down recently to $200-250 as of late, though the wet navigation capabilities do come at a premium here as well.
I really wonder how they all compare, and not just two, and lightly reviewed at that. Things like mean error, average time to locate, rechargeability, ability to run off external power, etc etc ....
Time for a real article or three on the subject.
Am I the only one....
Am I the only one that thinks the "Coming in for a landing" view is a bit weird? I know it's "cool" and all, but I just find it funny that all the device photos in this review had the same flying behind the car perspective rather than the alternative map style straight down.
My preference, in case you can't tell, is the classic map view. Maybe I'm getting old.
IPX 4 is only splash proof
You say that the Magellan CrossoverGPS is waterproof to IPX 4. That rating is only splash proof (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingress_protection_rating ). Normal outdoor use GPS units are waterproof to IPX 7 (full immersion).
I would not consider IPX 4 to be acceptable for outdoor use. If you are taking a GPS unit into the wilderness (even on a country hike), and using it as your only method of navigation, you must be able to rely on it completely, not just in fair weather. The last thing you want is for your navigation to fail just when you are soaked and cold after an unexpected thunderstorm.
When you consider that the people most likely to buy this unit for outdoor use, are those who are inexperienced, and do not know how to navigate in the wilderness with a map and compass, and are unlikely to bring one as a backup, so when their GPS fails, they will be completely stuck, I think it is irresponsible to sell a unit that is only splash proof, as waterproof, and a good choice for outdoor navigation.
As for boating use, it would be foolhardy in the extreme to rely on a non waterproof unit. If you mount this on the deck of a small powerboat or dingy, then it will get a salt water soaking almost every time you use it. Again if stuff goes wrong and you capsize, the last think you want is to be lost as well.