So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Text-to-speech technology, ease of use, slim design, Destinator ND software, included accessories, red light and speed camera warnings
- Screen has poor viewing angle, sluggish re-routing times, no headphone jack, extra cost over lesser model
The LN800 offers a larger screen and a light sensor, but we don't think its worth the extra asking price over the LN800. Still, it's a solid unit with a fair list of included features.
Price$ 649.00 (AUD)
LG's top of the line LN800 GPS unit adds longer battery life, a light sensor, and a larger touch screen to what already was a great value for money unit, the LN500.
Like its little brother, the LN800 has text-to-speech technology, an MP3 player, a picture and photo viewer and Destinator ND software, but we're not sure that the minimal extra features are worth the higher asking price.
The LN800 has a straightforward, simple interface with clearly labelled selection boxes. The 4in, 320 x 240 pixel display makes it easy to navigate through the unit, although you do have to tap your finger quite firmly to make a selection. The LN800's display is adequate on the whole, although it isn't as bright and clear as some competing models. It has a poor viewing angle and we did have some issues with sunlight glare. Our only complaint with the interface is its speed; it is sometimes sluggish when browsing through the menu to enter an address, or change settings.
Destinator ND software powers the LN800, the same interface seen on the LN500. When searching for an address, suburbs aren't filtered by state. Instead you'll get a full list of suburbs in Australia, with the state in brackets, for example, Fairfield (NSW) and Fairfield (VIC). Conveniently, the LN800 allows two options when searching for an address; via city and then street, or via street and then city. This is handy when you may only have a street name, and not a suburb, or vice versa. Street names are filtered by suburb, reducing the list of streets during searching to a manageable number. The LN 800 also allows navigation directly to a side street, but perplexingly, searching via postcode isn't available.
The main menu of the Destinator ND software consists of six large boxes with text and coloured icons, so first time users shouldn't have any issues understanding what is what. There are icons for address, recent places, my places, points of interest (POI), and route manager. Tapping the setup button in the main menu allows you to adjust all navigation and map options, while the route manager menu can plan a multi-stop trip, record a route for playback on the screen later, and provide a summary of the route.. A host of POI's are also available, such as airports, shopping centres, parking stations, hospitals and cafes. The LN800 comes with red light and speed camera warnings out of the box.
The LN800 uses the popular SiRF Star III GPS chip seen in most navigation units on the market. It takes about 30 seconds to acquire a GPS signal, and we didn't experience any drop outs. We did however find route re-routing times to be a little sluggish; they often take a couple of seconds longer than we're used to.
The maps are simple and easy to read and can be zoomed in and out of using the large + and - controls on the touch screen. Users can select either a 3D or 2D view, and switch between day and night mode. The LN800 also has an avoid area feature; you can program the unit to avoid certain areas when you plan your trip, such as known traffic hot spots, for example. The slightly larger display means that the size of the text on the maps, as well as the buttons in the menus is easier to navigate and read. One addition to this model over the LN500 is a light sensor, which automatically adjusts the backlight and map colours in line with the level of lighting.
The LN800 once again features text-to-speech technology, which means that it can say street names as you approach them. It works quite well and does a solid, if unremarkable job with translations; although it does struggle with long and confusing names. There is only one voice English voice option (US English) that can be used with text-to-speech, but it is quite loud at the highest volume level.
LG also includes a photo viewer and music player on the LN800. MP3, WMA and JPEG files can be stored on the unit's 64MB of internal memory, or an SD card (not included). Fortunately unlike some other units, the LN800 stores its maps internally, rather than on an SD card, meaning you can utilise the memory slot while still taking advantage of the GPS functionality.
The MP3 player is very basic with only repeat and random play options and no equaliser, but it is simple to use thanks to large, easy to tap controls on the touch screen. Sound quality from the external speaker is below average though, and we were baffled by the fact that there is no headphone jack for private listening.
Despite adding a larger display, the LN800 is still only 18mm thin. It is finished in grey and black plastic, and although it feels sturdy and well built, we prefer the gloss black finish of the LN500. LG promotes the "quick three button access" as one of the unit's best features and we agree. The LN800 has just a power/menu key and volume buttons to the right of the display, and they glow bright red when the unit is powered on. The right side sports an on/off switch and a DC input for charging, while the left side has a well concealed standard mini-USB port and the SD card slot.
LG is generous with bundled accessories, offering an easy to fit window mount, an in-car charger, an AC charger, a USB cable and a drawstring carry case. Battery life has been improved from the LN500 and is rated at up to six hours, which is generous considering the multimedia features and large display.
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