Sunday, March 18, 2012

Navigon 7100 review

Navigon_7100_review

NOTE: Navigon has pulled out of the U.S. market and we are no longer recommending their receivers. Check out our auto GPS buyers guide for our current recommendations.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out a Navigon 7100, a high-end unit from a relatively new player in the GPS navigation market. Navigon has distinguished itself with several novel features including their “reality view” of complex interchanges (shown above), Zagat ratings, and live traffic without any renewal fees. On top of that, the unit allows you to save locations and navigate to them by voice commands.

Dropping down to the Navigon 5100, you lose Bluetooth and voice commands.

Only rarely do I stray from the established major companies in reviewing GPS navigators, but this one was just too tempting.

Navigon_7100_zagat
First of all, lets look at some of these key features to see how they perform.

  • Zagat ratings – I LOVE this feature. We found an excellent (and cheap) Indian restaurant in Berkeley with it. They also rate hotels, attractions, golf and nightlife. Click the thumbnail on the right for a screenshot.
  • Reality view – I had my doubts about this, but it really works and seems helpful. Don’t expect 3-D ramps, but it does a good job of showing how many lanes go each direction and which you should be in.
  • Voice commands – This feature worked surprisingly well for me, failing to pull the proper command only a couple of times.

Those are the more innovative features. Now let’s go over the rest of the pros and cons of the unit.

Navigon 7100 Pros

  • Has text-to-speech, so it calls out the street names for turns.
  • Multi-point routing.
  • When doing multi-destination routing, both interim and final
    destination information is shown — remaining distance, estimated
    duration of the trip, and the estimated time of arrival for both the
    next interim destination and the final destination.
  • You can block sections of routes, either in route planning or on the
    fly. When navigating, tap the map and choose “Block”, to be presented
    with an option to recalculate the route based on a “block” 0.2, 1, 5,
    10, 15 or 30 miles ahead.
  • The unit shows the current speed limit where that information is available.
  • When two maneuvers need to be executed in quick succession, icons indicating the direction of each maneuver are shown.
  • Quick access POIs can be customized, but you lose the option of seeing POI details (e.g., Zagat info, phone number, etc.) if you access them this way.
  • You can search for a POI near a point on the map while navigating.
  • The Bluetooth connection easily paired with my phone, an LG VX8300.
  • The traffic receiver, while a bit unsightly (a wire antenna with two suction cups), worked very well, even when not attached to the car’s windows.
  • Traffic incidents in oncoming lanes are indicated by an arrow, showing that they are not in your direction of travel. This can alert you that a slowdown may be brief, due to “rubber necking.”
  • There are lots of customization options including:
    • Showing street names on 2-D or 3-D maps
    • Showing altitude and speed on the main navigation screen
    • Showing remaining distance, duration of journey and time of arrival
    • Showing or hiding speed limits or only displaying them if you are exceeding the speed limit
    • Speed warnings
    • Speed dependent volume

Navigon 7100 Cons

  • While I mentioned a number of nice detailed features above, some contribute to a cluttered interface. The on-screen buttons are significantly smaller than many other GPS navigators.
  • Though not terribly complicated, I did find the interface less intuitive than that of Garmin or TomTom.
  • The unit experienced repeated lockups and delays.
  • I noticed on multiple occasions that the unit did not recalculate a turn before I reached the next intersection, even in town where speeds were relatively slow.
  • The specs list over 4 million POIs. Most high-end units come with around 6 million. Many locations I searched for were not in its database.
  • When searching for POIs, the back button goes to beginning of
    process, not back one step. This is extremely frustrating and time
    consuming.
  • When saving a favorite POI, you must enter a name; it will not default to the name of the store, etc.
  • You cannot search for a POI near an entered destination.
  • The “POI on route” function is of limited usefulness, since it only shows you the category name and not the actual name of the business.
  • The nationwide POIs group is just plain weird, showing roads in Indiana when I selected it in California.
  • Traffic reports default to show to all incidents, though you can change this to only show incidents along your route.
  • The unit continues to show traffic problems once you are past them.
  • Traffic information display is less intuitive than that of some other brands.
  • I could not find a way to download my cell phone’s contact list, even though the  manual says “You can
    also make use of the mobile phone’s telephone book,” yet it doesn’t
    describe how.
  • As with most GPS cell phone connections I’ve tried, there is a tunnel-like  sound effect.
  • No MP3 player.

Compare prices on the Navigon 7100

Caveats

  • The unit I tested was labeled “pre-production,” so the product on store shelves may differ a little.
  • This pre-production unit did not come with a mount, so i was not able to test that.

Recommendation

The Navigon 7100 has some great features not found on other GPS receivers.   Unfortunately, others are missing, and while the interface is snazzy, it’s not as intuitive as it could be.  I can’t recommend this unit for most folks; there are just too many downsides. One exception might be foodies and others who would make lots of use of the Zagat ratings.

Nevertheless, there is a lot to like here. Hopefully, Navigon will be able to work out the bugs with its interface on future units. They’ve made a great start; it just needs some fine tuning.


More Navigon 7100 reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…


Other Navigon 7100 resources


Compare prices on the Navigon 7100 at these merchants:

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Great review! It’s interesting that in reading a large sampling of the User Reviews, users buying this as their first GPS loved it and users who have used other GPS units found fault with everything from the voice prompts (major streets only), to the accuracy, to the routing algorithm, which more than one called the worst they’ve ever seen. And apparently there was some kind of major production problem involving 2GB memory cards coming with the units instead of 4GB and the effect this had on performance.
    I really like the free traffic and the price range….if they can get the bugs out. Between these guys and Dash, there is starting to be some real innovation in the $500 price range…as long as they work.

  2. Thanks. I’m glad you found it helpful. Can’t wait to try the Dash.

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