Sunday, March 18, 2012

Insignia NS-CNV10 review

Insignia NS-CNV10 review

The Insignia NS-CNV10 is a connected GPS navigator available exclusively from BestBuy. It includes a one year subscription for connectivity which gives you access to Google Local search, live traffic, and gas prices. The CNV10 is a 3.5” model with text-to-speech, so you’ll hear “in one mile, make a left turn on Main Street,” rather than just “in one mile, make a left turn.”

Stepping up to the Insignia NS-CNV20, you’ll get a 4.3” screen and Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone use.

On to the details…


The unit is relatively intuitive and not overly complicated, with a clean and uncluttered interface. There are other nice touches as well:

  • The bottom menu buttons on the map screen are transparent
  • It displays recent cities when doing a search
  • When navigating, you can touch the lower left field to toggle between ETA, distance to destination and time to destination, though it defaults back to distance to destination each time you start the device

These however do not make up for the downsides:

  • There is a little bit of a lag when you press that lower left field before the next option displays, but you do get an audible click confirming tap
  • Text-to-speech pronunciation is a little rough
  • No way to display your current speed
  • No speed limit display
  • You cannot sort favorites by proximity to your current location; options are new web addresses, most used and A to Z
  • The unit does not automatically power on or off
  • When you sort search results by distance, it doesn’t indicate a cardinal direction (so you can’t tell if they are in a direction you want to go or not)
  • The mount is not powered, so you have to plug the power cord into the side of the unit each time you mount it
  • The “Automatic” Day/Night screen setting does not work

A volume dial on the side (like those old transistor radios) is convenient, but feels cheap.


Usually, the unit worked as expected in terms of navigation. There were some hiccups and deficiencies though:

  • Once it refused to recalculate a new route, pretty much demanding that I return to the original route
  • Sometimes it did not give multiple options, even though alternatives were available
  • You can’t zoom in on the multiple routes screen, and with the grossly thick graphics, it’s often difficult to tell what roads an alternate route would travel
  • There is no multi-destination routing, not even a via
  • More than once it told me to make a left turn, but the next turn symbol showed a right turn, or vice versa
  • The turn by turn list doesn’t update; after a dozen turns it still starts with the first turn on your original route, so you can have to scroll far down the list to see your next turn


When there is a traffic issue, a yellow or red alert pops up in the lower right corner of the map screen; touch this and the unit will calculate alternative routes. While it will show traffic via yellow and red road segments, the map is so cluttered (even when you’re within a few miles of your destination), that it is very difficult to be able to tell anything about the situation.

The multiple route options it displayed would often go far out of the way, as if the unit would only calculate routes on major highways. For example, rather than reroute on local roads around a freeway traffic jam, the unit would typically pick alternate routes along other freeways, even if it meant adding an hour or two onto the journey and sending you through another state

A few other traffic notes:

  • It can be misleading in areas with no traffic coverage — it says no congestion reported, when it would be more accurate to say no data available
  • I occasionally noticed that the multiple routes screen times don’t agree with the time on the main map screen
  • There were a lot of false traffic alerts, more than I recall seeing on other devices; many of these were around construction zones
  • At least once it notified me of a problem several miles behind me

Google search

Live search is one of the great advantages of a connected GPS. The likelihood of finding something is much better than if you were using a static POI database (the one onboard the Insignia only has 2 million POIs).

Search results can be sorted by distance, A to Z, relevance and popularity. The latter is very helpful in sorting restaurants that have been rated by patrons. It does not offer the ability to search along your route — you can search near your current location, near your destination and in recently entered cities. If you want to search Google Local by category, you’ll need to press the Browse button rather than the Google Local button — which is a little confusing.


The unit did a better job staying connected and connecting in marginal areas following a firmware update to version 1.3. Nevertheless, the unit would not connect at my home, even though I have no trouble with cell reception there. I don’t know if this is indicative of the Insignia carrier or a hardware issue.

It is very easy to send items from Google Maps to the unit. A simple set up process on the device enables this feature, letting you choose a user name for an email address. Then you just go into Google Maps, pick a destination and type in the email address one time (you can set the Insignia as your default GPS). The next time the unit gets a cellular connection, you’ll see a message that new addresses have arrived.

I was not very impressed with the Gas Buddy price feature. Gas prices for my area were typically out of date, usually by at least 5 days.

Satellite lock

The unit is slower than most to lock onto satellites. I have to wonder how well it would perform in urban canyons.


The Insignia NS-CNV10 is an able little navigator. I absolutely love having local search capabilities. The unit certainly has its flaws, chief among them a near useless traffic feature and an immature interface. Nevertheless, if the Google Local search is of value to you, it may be worth picking one up when they are discounted — I’ve seen this unit for as low as $99.99!

More Insignia NS-CNV10 reviews

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

Other Insignia NS-CNV10 resources

Compare prices on the Insignia NS-CNV10 at these merchants:

Related posts:

About Rich Owings

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


  1. Thanks for the great informative post. What I absolutely adore about Insignia NS-CNV10 is that it has a built-in cellular modem Connects your GPS to the Internet, so you can use Google Local Search or send addresses from Google Maps to your GPS device.

  2. What is the sd card use for in the units I just bought one off ebay and it did not have the sd card thanks Don

  3. The SD card has the system OS. It shouldn’t work without it. You may be able to download new firmware from but I don’t know if maps are on the card or the unit.

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