Hitachi MMP-401

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Hitachi MMP-401
  • Hitachi MMP-401
  • Hitachi MMP-401
  • Hitachi MMP-401

Pros

  • Size, 4in screen, Music and video playback, User interface, Good volume levels, Competitive price

Cons

  • Entertainment offering lacks features, Somewhat slow to pick up a GPS signal, Large and bulky window mount, Poor battery life, No external volume control

Bottom Line

The MMP-401 is basically the MMP-501 in a smaller package and without the Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. It does a reasonable job for quite a good price.

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  • Buy now (Selling at 8 stores)

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The brother of the MMP-501 the Hitachi MMP-401 offers the same features with the exception of Bluetooth hands-free calling. The key difference between the two is that the MMP-401 is more compact and lightweight. Importantly, navigational features are not sacrificed to achieve this.

Navigation

The MMP-401 offers an easy to use interface. The large screen makes it easy to navigate through the unit, with clearly labelled selection boxes for most sections. The display is more than adequate, although not as bright as some other models on the market. Sunlight glare can be a significant problem; on a bright summer day, we struggled to see the screen, and the viewing angle could be improved.

The MMP-401 software is intuitive to use. Unlike most other units, suburbs aren't filtered by state though; instead you'll get a full list of suburbs in Australia, with the state in brackets. Example, Fairfield (NSW) and Fairfield (VIC). Street names are then filtered by suburb, reducing the list of streets during searching to a manageable number. The MMP-401 allows navigation directly to a house number, intersection or even to the middle of a street.

The main menu encompasses four large boxes with text and a coloured icon, so even first time users shouldn't have any problems. There are icons for address, my places, food, fuel, lodging and map options. Here you can also adjust all navigational settings. Tapping the address button allows you to navigate to a specific address, while the food, fuel, lodging menu offers access to a host of points of interest (POI's), like airports, shopping centres, parking stations, hospitals and cafes. The MMP-401 has over 350,000 POI's out of the box.

While the general navigational experience of the MMP-401 is solid, the time to find and maintain a GPS signal could be improved. The MMP-401 often took more than a minute and a half to find a signal, despite using the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset seen in many other units currently on the market. Re-routing times were more positive, taking just a couple of seconds in most instances.

Voice commands were fine although there is only one voice English voice option. On the up side though, the MMP-401 is extremely loud at its highest setting, although there is no external volume control seen on the more expensive MMP-501. Finding the volume control during navigation is far from intuitive: press the power button but do not hold it down for an extended period to go to the top menu screen, adjust the volume, and then go back into navigation mode.

The MMP-401 maps are simple and easy to read and can be zoomed in and out of easily using the large + and - controls on the touch screen. You can select either a 3D or 2D view, with the map oriented with either north up or track up (the direction you are travelling facing upwards). Tapping the bar below the map cycles through the displayable options including the kilometres travelled, the current speed and the distance remaining. The MMP-401 uses WhereIs Sensis maps in Australia and these are preloaded onto the built-in 256MB of flash memory. For extra maps, an SD card slot is located on the left hand side, alongside a reset button. The right side sees an AC power jack and headphone jack, while a standard mini-USB connector for connection to a PC is located underneath and a power button on top.

The MMP-401 also includes a multimedia player that plays MP3 music files and MPEG-4 video files and these can be stored on an SD card or on the unit's internal memory. The player is very basic with only repeat and random play options and no equaliser, but it is easy to use thanks to large, easy to tap controls on the touch screen.

Design

The MMP-401 measures 115 x 75 x 28 mm and weighs a hefty 215g, so it's a fairly compact size, despite the flip out antenna. Unfortunately we had some issues with the window mount, which failed to stay attached to our window regularly during use.

The MMP-401 also has a rather poor battery life of just two hours according to Hitachi figures. If you use the cigarette lighter in your car to power other devices, such as an MP3 player, this will become a concern for longer trips. For charging, Hitachi includes both an AC charger and an in-car charger in the sales package.

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