So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Intuitive user interface, Convenient parking and fuel buttons, Compact size and weight, External volume controls, 3.5in touch screen
- No AC adapter or USB cable included, No red light or speed camera warnings, Sluggish re-routing times in some instances, Battery life could be improved.
As a basic, entry-level GPS unit at this price, the F20 does quite a fine job. It doesn't include speed or red light camera warnings and is thin on included accessories, but an easy to grasp interface and solid maps provide a pleasing navigational experience - even for first time GPS users.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Navman's new entry level GPS unit, the F20, includes the functional Navman user interface, parking and fuel buttons, a 3.5in touch screen and improved maps. It is also compact for a dedicated in-car unit, so it's easy to take from car-to-car.
The F20 is equipped with a SiRFstarIII GPS receiver. We found the unit took about a minute to pick up a signal after being turned on. Our driving tests confirmed it was reasonably responsive even with an obscured view of the sky. One area we feel the F20 can improve on is re-routing times; while they aren't really slow, they struggle to keep up, especially if you are driving on a main road.
Like most of the Navman range, the F20 is simple to use as most of its operations can be accessed via the main menu screen. Tap the displayed icons to navigate to your home address, a specific address or point of interest (POI), a saved favourite destination or a recent destination. Although this is a basic unit, we found the omission of multi-stop trips a little disappointing. One noticeable difference is with the general menu appearance. Where the more expensive models feature dark menus, the F20 differentiates itself by using bright, colourful and clearly labelled icons. First time GPS users shouldn't have any problems with this unit.
When searching for a specific address, the F20 can filter suburbs by state. This simplifies the search results by only returning suburbs in that state, rather than the entire country. Searches can be made for a specific city, area, street or point of interest. The final destination can then be narrowed by house number, intersection or the centre of the street. One limitation of the Navman F20 is that the software does not allow searching by postcode. While the on-touchscreen keyboard used to enter addresses is reasonably large, fingertip operation is generally required to ensure the desired keys are selected. The on-screen number pad can be activated by pressing the '123' button below the keyboard.
The F20 uses the latest WhereIS R13 maps. A map with all states of Australia is pre-loaded onto the unit's 256MB of internal memory. Overall, the navigational experience is pleasing thanks to clear maps and precise voice instructions. The maps can be zoomed in and out and can also be tilted up and down when in 3D view. Using the route information screen, the F20 maps display current time, current speed, estimated time of arrival, distance to the destination and estimated time to reach the destination. The F20 also adds a unique progress bar on the left hand side of the map.
The usual routing options, such as avoiding tolls or warning when routes include tolls are supported on the F20. Users can also set a preference for using motorways or normal urban roads and this is taken into consideration when the unit calculates a route. Navman has included a route demonstrator to preview the route. Other features of the F20 include the ability to adjust the screen brightness, add custom POI's, as well as basic routing options and a user-configured preset speed warning alert that will inform you if you're going too fast. Unfortunately, the F20 doesn't include any speed camera or red light camera warnings.
The F20 measures 116mm x 79.5mm x 24mm so its compact size and weight of just 200g means it's easy to remove from your window mount for storage. Despite the small size, the F20 feels solid and well built thanks to a dark grey plastic casing. It is virtually identical in design to its big brother, the N40i, albeit with a different colour scheme, no 'Go To' button and no rear mounted NavPix camera.
The F20 includes external volume controls on the right hand side. Although useful and quite intuitive, their rubber design makes them difficult to press while driving, and we prefer the scroll wheel Navman has used on previous models. The F20 also features an SD card slot for extra maps and a mini-USB port for charging and synchronising with a PC, but a notable omission is the 3.5mm headphone jack that is included on the N40i.
The display is a bright and clear 3.5in touchscreen. The TFT display is excellent for viewing both day and night maps and also hits the mark when combined with Navman's easy to grasp interface. We found the screen had a good horizontal and vertical viewing angle, but it suffered a little in direct sunlight. Even when adjusting the brightness to its highest level, this was an issue, making the display difficult to read.
Featuring the same controls as the N40i, the F20 is a breeze to use. You can quickly change the map view using the Cycle Maps key, with the F20 offering standard 2D and 3D views, as well as next turn and turn-by-turn views. There is also a route summary view, where you can see your route from a distant top down perspective, similar to a large city map. There are buttons for the preferences menu as well as convenient parking and fuel keys. Pressing these keys (marked with a P symbol and a picture of a fuel pump) brings up a list of the nearest parking and petrol stations which you can navigate to with two simple button presses.
The F20 sales package includes a car windscreen mount and cigarette lighter adapter. There is no USB cable or AC power adapter included. According to Navman the F20's internal battery is rated at up to three and a half hours, depending on usage. We averaged about three hours before we had to charge the unit again. This was a little disappointing considering the unit doesn't extra features like NavPix or Bluetooth.
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