Hitachi MMP-501B

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Hitachi MMP-501B
  • Hitachi MMP-501B
  • Hitachi MMP-501B
  • Hitachi MMP-501B

Pros

  • Display, Bluetooth handsfree, AV output, user interface

Cons

  • Multimedia features are limited, large and bulky

Bottom Line

A large, bulky unit, the MMP-501B offers a great display and plenty of features for its asking price, though there aren't many new additions from the previous model.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 5 stores)

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Although the upgraded MMP-501B, a refresh of the original MMP-501, isn't groundbreaking, it adds text-to-speech technology and a smoother user interface to what already was a solid GPS unit.

The MMP-501B's user interface remains easy to use, with clearly labelled selection boxes for most sections. The large 5in display is excellent though sunlight can be an issue on a bright day.

Searching for an address is fairly simple. Suburbs aren't filtered by state - instead you'll get a full list of suburbs in Australia, with the state in brackets. Street names are then filtered by suburb, reducing them to a manageable number. The MMP-501B allows navigation directly to a house number, or to the middle of a street. Conveniently, when finalising a route, you can choose either the quickest, or shortest route just before navigation starts, as well as add stops to your trip.

The main menu encompasses four large boxes with text and a coloured icon. There are icons for route, go to, options and extras. Tapping the 'go to' button allows you to navigate to a specific address, point of interest (POI), recent locations and saved favourites. The MMP-501B has over 500,000 POI's out of the box.

While the general navigational experience of the MMP-501B is solid, the time to find and maintain a GPS signal could be improved. The MMP-501B often takes more than a minute to find a GPS signal, despite using the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset. Re-routing times are a positive though, taking just a few seconds in most instances.

Text-to-speech technology is an excellent addition, though the voice does struggle with some longer street names. An external volume wheel on the left side is a handy addition. Alternatively, a quick tap of the volume icon on the map screen allows you to adjust volume with the slide of your finger.

The MMP-501B ships with Sensis V14 Australian maps, stored on the unit's 256MB SD memory. They can be zoomed in and out of easily using the + 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 at the bottom of the map cycles through the displayable options including the kilometres travelled, the current speed and the distance remaining. Red light cameras, fixed speed cameras and school zone alerts are all included.

For extra maps, as well as MP3 and MP4 multimedia files, an SD card slot is located on the left-hand side. An AV input means video playback on a TV via included composite cables is possible. The included multimedia player is very basic, but it is easy to use thanks to large, easy to tap controls on the touch screen - though the buttons aren't labelled so the instruction manual is a resource worth reading. 3.5mm headphones are included in the package.

Bluetooth handsfree calling is also a feature. Pairing is a simple process, just search for the unit and pair it with the default passcode (1234). Function is fairly basic though, as you can't access your phonebook, use voice dialling commands or read SMS messages - it is only limited to voice calls.

Weighing a hefty 335g, the MMP-501B is one of the largest and heaviest GPS units on the market. A quoted battery life of five hours sounds reasonable, though this will diminish severely with use of the multimedia features. For charging, Hitachi includes both an AC charger and an in-car charger in the sales package.

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