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Sony Personal Navigation System nav-u review by PC Magazine
08/03/2006 12:56 PM
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Sony Personal Navigation System navu
Road-Ready GPS
Travel Companions
• Road-Ready GPS Travel
• Garmin StreetPilot c550
• Sony Personal
Navigation System
At A Glance
Total posts: 1
Full Review
• Garmin StreetPilot 7200
• Magellan RoadMate
By Craig Ellison
Editor's Note: (06/06/06) since we published this review, Sony cut the price
to $499.
When you think of major players in the portable GPS navigation market,
Sony doesn't come to mind. Sony is hoping to change that perception with
the introduction of its nav-u Portable Satellite Navigation System.
The nav-u features a 3.5SLIDESHOW (12)
inch (diagonal) touch
GPS Navigation
screen with a special
coating to make it both
Garmin StreetPilot
glare- and fingerprintc330
resistant. It has a built-in
Lowrance iWAY
light sensor to adjust the
screen automatically for
Cobra Nav One
optimal viewing in any
Slideshow | All Shots
lighting condition and
includes both a day and night mode. Even in bright
sunlight, I found the screen easy to read.
Installation and setup, as with most portable GPS devices, is quite simple.
The nav-u arrives pre-loaded with Navteq's street-level maps for the 48
contiguous states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and a respectable
database of 1.6 million POI (Points of Interest). All this information fits into
1GB of solid state memory. The nav-u mounts to the windshield with a
suction cup or to a supplied plate that you can mount with screws. The
mounting bracket is one of the better brackets I've seen; it's sturdy and
1. Garmin StreetPilot®
c330 GPS Receiver
2. Garmin nüvi™ 350 GPS
3. Garmin StreetPilot® i3
GPS Receiver
4. Lowrance iWAY™ 500C
GPS Receiver
5. Garmin StreetPilot®
2720 GPS Receiver
more >
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Page 1 of 7
Sony Personal Navigation System nav-u review by PC Magazine
easy to adjust. The bracket has a set of contacts that mate to contacts on
the bottom of the nav-u, making it easy to snap the device in and out of
the bracket. You can connect both power and an optional GPS antenna to
the bracket, and not have to fumble with cables each time you snap the
nav-u into or out of the bracket.
08/03/2006 12:56 PM
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The nav-u is fairly straightforward to operate. It has only two hardware
buttons: Power on/off, and a button that makes the device speak the last
command. All of the other input is done via the touch screen. Upon bootup, after the unit has acquired enough satellites for navigation, the first
screen you see is the map screen. Across the top of the screen are three
icons: one for hiding or showing all other icons, one to toggle between
north up or track up, and one for Select Destination. Also along the top
line of the screen are a battery-status indicator and a GPS indicator that
shows whether you have enough satellites for navigation. A tap of the
GPS icon shows your current latitude and longitude and the number of
active satellites, and it lets you save the current position as a favorite. The
bottom strip of the screen displays current compass direction, current
street, time of day, and your current speed.
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The interface is also fairly simple. A tap anywhere on the map screen
brings up the main menu, which has icons for New Destination, Search
Nearby, Route, Muting, and Settings. There's also a convenient Back
Arrow icon that takes you back one level, and an Up Arrow icon that takes
you directly back to the main map view.
Inertial Navigation
Like most GPS devices, the nav-u lets you choose either 2D track up, 2D
north up, or a 3D view. Its auto-zoom feature, available in both 2D and 3D
views, automatically scales the map resolution based on your current
speed. Unfortunately, most likely in a nod to simplicity, neither the main
map view nor the navigation screen let you zoom in or out. Only the
breaking news
Select Destination screen, one that's not used for navigating, lets the user
choose the zoom level.
Car Navigation
The Settings icon lets you set your preferences or to view information
about the unit. You can set volume, map view preferences, routing
options, screen preferences, and more. The nav-u supports multiple speed
profiles (slow, standard, and fast) for a car, motorcycle, truck, bike, and
pedestrian. You can also choose the shortest or fastest route and set your
preference (Yes/No) for interstates, tollways, and ferries.
New Destination lets you set your next route. You can choose from
Address, Point of Interest, Select on Map, your saved favorites, or recent
destinations. You can select an individual state or all states. If you choose
to navigate to a POI, you can then find one near your current location,
nationwide, or in a specified city. Finally, you can select either Any or limit
your search to one of 11 categories: Gas Station, Restaurant,
Accommodation, Entertainment, Shopping, Public Transport, Bank, School
and Education, Civil Service, Health Care, and Enterprises.
Once you select a category, a screen pops up with your choice populated
in the Category 1 field. Category 2 is actually a subcategory within the
Category 1. The third choice is an icon that says "Please select." When
you press "Please select," an alphabetic keyboard pops up on the screen
that lets you type in the name of the POI. Or you can select List, which
brings up a screen that has a large box containing the first choice on the
list. You can scroll down the list using the Up/Down arrows until your
choice appears in the large box, then touch the screen to make your
selection. Once you've done so, you're returned to the previous page,
where you can see the POI on the map, save the POI, or start navigation.
Although you can generally find what you're looking for, this menu system
is awkward compared with others I've tested.
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Page 2 of 7
Sony Personal Navigation System nav-u review by PC Magazine
08/03/2006 12:56 PM
In navigation mode, the nav-u displays an impressive amount of
information. Both your current street and the street for your next maneuver
are shown on the bottom of the screen. On the left, a graphic indicates the
direction of your next turn, along with a "shrinking thermometer" that
shows your relative distance to the turn. If two maneuvers are to be
executed quickly in sequence, a second directional arrow shows the
second turn. Your current heading, speed, altitude, miles to destination,
and estimated time of arrival are also displayed. The nav-u supports
multiple-destination routing, so if you have a second stage planned, miles
to destination and ETA are to the next stage point. While you can display
your planned route on the map, I'm disappointed that the nav-u lacks a
List view that shows a list of your turns and the mileage to each. Most
GPS devices have List views.
I road-tested the nav-u on our standard route and found no surprises. It
generated the same route (with the same preferences specified) as did
competing GPS devices that also use Navteq's mapping database, such
as any of the Garmin units. Directions were spoken clearly and at
appropriate times, such as "in 600 feet, turn right." Like its competitors,
such as the Lowrance iWAY 350C, the Cobra Nav One 4500, and Garmin
StreetPilot c330, the nav-u doesn't support text-to-speech conversion. The
data on the navigation screen gave me confidence that I wouldn't miss a
The nav-u has a list price of $599.99, which puts it squarely between
some of its competitors' 3.5-inch screen GPS devices: the iWAY 350C, at
$499, and the StreetPilot c330, at $699. Although the nav-u is fairly easy
to use and has many features to recommend it, the Lowrance iWAY 350C
is a better value.
Compare the GPS devices mentioned above side by side
More GPS navigation reviews:
• Mio DigiWalker C710
• Garmin nüvi 360
• Navman iCN750
• Magellan RoadMate 860T
• Magellan RoadMate 3000T
• more
< back
next >
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Sony Personal Navigation System nav-u review by PC Magazine
08/03/2006 12:56 PM
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