So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Detachable PNU (Portable Navigational Unit), acclaimed TomTom GPS performance, Bluetooth connectivity for handsfree calling, USB port, solid combination of navigation and in-car audio
- CD playback interface isn't great, Bluetooth not compatible with all phones, outgoing voice for handsfree Bluetooth calls could be improved
The AVN2210p is far from perfect, but it's a nice example of what can be achieved by combining personal navigation and in-car entertainment. It's a very solid unit with a couple of nifty features and the fact that the GPS unit is detachable will be a selling point for many consumers – not to mention its very reasonable asking price.
Price$ 1,399.00 (AUD)
A combination of a clip-out TomTom portable GPS unit and an Eclipse in-car stereo, the AVN2210p brings together mobile navigation and entertainment. Amongst this unit's many features is iPod connectivity, built-in Bluetooth, a USB connection and a touch screen interface via the TomTom portable navigation unit.
Essentially, the AVN2210p consists of two products combined into one; a TomTom GPS unit and a double-DIN Eclipse in-car entertainment system. Like all in-car stereo systems, the AVN2210p is a fixed system that needs to be professionally installed into your vehicle. In order to install the unit, your vehicle must have two free DIN slots (the standard sized compartments where car CD players and radios reside).
Aesthetically, the AVN2210p isn't overly attractive, but its matte black finish with soft red backlighting ensures it should blend nicely into most vehicles. The design of the unit means you can tilt the display at a number of different angles – ideal for those cars in which the DIN slots are located low in the dashboard. Apart from the touch screen, a five-way navigational dial bears the grunt of the work while the rest of the controls are fairly straightforward.
The disadvantage of a regular fixed GPS unit is the fact that you can't take it out and use it in other cars. While the AVN2210p is installed into the dash of your car, the TomTom navigational unit clips in and out so it can be detached and used in another car. Eclipse even offers an optional travel kit, so you can use the clip-out GPS unit in another vehicle.
As a navigation device, the experience of the AVN2210p is largely positive, thanks to the impressive and familiar TomTom interface. It functions almost exactly as regular portable TomTom units do, utilising a touch screen interface and a menu featuring clear and colourful icons. A minor annoyance – each time you adjust a preference or setting, the screen goes back to the map, so you have to navigate all the way to the menu again should you wish to change something else.
The unit filters street names by suburbs, narrowing down your search results to a manageable number. The general navigational experience is excellent – highly detailed maps, clear voice instructions and quick re-routing times are all features. The maps are quite detailed and display important information including remaining time, remaining distance, arrival time, current time, street name and speed. If you don't hear the voice instruction, you can tap the left-hand side of the status bar at the bottom of the screen to repeat it.
For CD playback, the AVN2210p is solid, but far from outstanding. Although it supports the playback of WMA and MP3 compressed audio discs, you can't seem to browse through folders using the touch screen. The unit does display ID3 tag information though, both on the touch screen display and scrolling on the smaller Eclipse display.
A very handy feature is Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can connect your phone to the AVN2210p and have handsfree calls played over your car speakers. The unit can read out and send SMS messages, access your phonebook and view recently dialled numbers. Performance is a mixed bag though – the microphones location at the bottom of the unit doesn't always pick up your voice, but incoming sound is excellent. Do be sure to check compatibility with your mobile phone as the AVN2210p doesn't support all models. When you pair your phone to the unit for the first time, it will show a list of features compatible with your particular handset.
An optional iPod cable (which must be purchased before you install the unit into your car) allows direct iPod connectivity and utlises the TomTom's touch screen for controlling your tunes. You can completely browse your iPod (including accessing your playlists) with the track information displayed on the screen, which is a nifty feature. Conveniently, your iPod will be charged while its connected in your car.
Alternatively, the AVN2210p has a standard USB port mounted on the front for digital data and playback. Here you can connect a USB flash drive to play music. Unfortunately, when using a USB flash drive with audio files, the AVN2210p will scan the drive each time you plug it in – annoying, especially if you have a large amount of data. Despite this issue, the user experience is excellent – music is indexed and listed on the touch screen and you can browse your tunes via a number of categories including playlists, artists, albums and songs.
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