Uniden TRAX 436 GPS unit
An affordable in-car GPS device with premium functionality
- Text-to-speech, SUNA traffic channel compatibility, Bluetooth, 3D landmarks, fast satellite signal acquisition, affordable
- Camera alerts are unnecessarily annoying, subscription to traffic service is an extra cost, Bluetooth functionality is hidden, Bluetooth quality could be improved
Uniden's top-of-the-line GPS device, the TRAX 436, offers great functionality at a reasonable price. Though some of this functionality can be improved, it is a good buy if you want a good GPS car navigation device without paying through a premium.
Price$ 449.95 (AUD)
The Uniden TRAX 436 in-car GPS navigation unit offers premium GPS functionality for a mid-range price. Although some quirks — that may take time to adapt to — were revealed in our tests, overall the GPS unit provides a good balance between price and quality.
Uniden provides a surprising amount of features on the TRAX 436 GPS car navigation. It provides the latest Australian maps, camera alerts, text-to-speech navigation, 3D landmarks, Bluetooth capability and SUNA Traffic Channel compatibility. There is a slight catch to the initial outlay: the TMC antenna required for the SUNA Traffic Channel is integrated into the TRAX 436's power adapter, but the subscription to the service itself is a $149.95 one-off fee. Nevertheless, even with the subscription's cost factored in, it is hard to find a GPS device at the Uniden TRAX 436's price point with similar functionality.
The GPS car navigation unit is bundled with a mini-USB to USB cable for connection to a PC, an in-car power adaptor and a mount for secure placement within the car. Unfortunately, Uniden doesn't provide an AC power adaptor, which thereby limits the device's use outside of a car.
Aesthetically, compared to current GPS devices like Tom Tom's GO 730 and the Navman S300T, the Uniden TRAX 436 strength is functionality not looks. With its two-tone black and dark grey fascia, the device isn't very attractive but it's a slim device, with all of its connectivity built into the sides — a power connection, mini-USB port, a microphone jack, headphone jack and an SD card slot. An external antenna can be attached through a flip-up panel in the middle of the device.
Like Kogan Technologies’ EziNav GPS, the TRAX 436 relies on Nav N Go's iGO navigation software. Unlike the EziNav GPS though, the Uniden GPS car navigation doesn't provide a root menu outside of the navigation software, and instead it simply boots straight into the iGO software. As a result, it doesn't have any multimedia or non-navigational functionality.
The software provides a fairly comprehensive navigation experience. The main interface provides a simple layout of four large buttons that provide access to the device's Find, Manage, and Route navigation functions, as well as a Settings menu. The touch screen is surprisingly responsive, making smaller buttons on the map interface itself as easy to press as the four larger buttons.
Choosing and navigating to an address on the Uniden TRAX 436 is a five step process that guides you through the selection of country, state, city and street name and number. As is common with current GPS devices, the Uniden TRAX 436's on-screen keyboard eliminates letters which do not correspond to possible addresses, until there are four or five possible addresses to display.
Though the user interface is a pleasure to use, we did find one quirk with the Bluetooth functionality — it isn't accessible through the Nav N Go's root menu. Instead, users need to enter the map and then press a small button in the bottom left corner. The Uniden TRAX 436 can pair with multiple phones and sync phonebook data, but only one phone can be connected at any one time. Unfortunately, even at maximum volume the mobile phone voice audio can easily be lost over the sound of the car or road, while the microphone isn't sensitive enough to pick up your voice while driving.
A NemeriX GPS receiver lies at the core of Uniden's TRAX 436. Cold start signal acquisition times averaged one and a half minutes beyond the 30-second system start-up period, and it managed to retain the signal even when the Uniden TRAX 436 wasn't in a direct sight line with the sky.
Though a popular trend amongst current GPS device is the addition of 3D landmarks on the Uniden TRAX 436, but in our tests we find they tend to disturb — rather than aid — the driver. Pleasingly we found Uniden has a great implementation of 3D terrain with the TRAX 436's display of elevated roads. Using 3D modelling, the TRAX 436 allows you to easily see and differentiate between overlapping roads, which is especially useful when identifying highway and freeway entrance and exit ramps. Thankfully, you can turn off 3D landmarks and roads separately.
One small annoyance is the speed camera alert sound. The alert noise emitted is a loud and almost deafening ring — it is more likely to force users to turn this function off rather than reduce their speed.
Though the Uniden TRAX 436 could use some minor improvements, overall the device is a great buy for those want premium features without paying a premium price.
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