Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Navman iCN 520
- Small, wide range of GPS features, ability to import user-defined points of interest
- Slow satellite acquisition time, no red light/speed camera alerts
A solid and portable GPS navigator.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Portability is the biggest advantage of the Navman iCN520, which offers a comprehensive set of the navigation features in a compact frame. The drawback of smaller units like the iCN 520 is that they require a stylus for input, which is just about impossible to use with any ease while traveling in car. However, our biggest problem with this unit was the satellite acquisition time, and in some cases it took the iCN 520 more than a few minutes to determine the current location after we switched it on.
While we find tapping on a small onscreen keyboard with a stylus in the car somewhat trying at the best of times, Navman has taken some trouble to make the searching mechanism as easy as possible. The iCN 520 helpfully filters the suburbs by state, so users aren't presented with a list of every suburb in Australia. Additionally, once a suburb has been selected, all streets in that suburb (sorted alphabetically) can be displayed with just one button click.
Alternatively, the suburb or street name can be painstakingly typed out with the on-screen keyboard, but we found the iCN 520 very slow to recognise matching names. As with other GPS units, points of interest (POIs) are supported, and users can add their own to the preloaded list, although this has to be done on a desktop machine and imported back into the device.
The iCN520 uses SmartST mapping software, and we had no complaints about the map display on the 3.5" LCD. It can be viewed in either 2D or 3D modes or even topographical style. The map display shows the distance to the next turn up the top of the screen, with a graphical icon indicating the direction of the next turn. The display at the bottom of the screen can be toggled to show the current location, distance to the next turn, distance to go, ETA, current speed and current time.
The audio instructions given by the iCN 520 were clear and timely, with the distance to the next turn and then the direction to turn stated. The instructions were repeated before the turn and then at the turn itself and can be heard again by using the volume jog dial. The only criticism we have is the tinny sound of the speakers and slight distortion at higher volumes.
The usual routing options, such as avoiding tolls or warning when routes include tolls are supported on the unit. Interestingly, 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 also included a route demonstrator to preview the route and supports multiple-destination routes of up to 12 stops.
While the iCN 520 allows users to change the screen brightness and basic routing options, it lacks the advanced customisation features that we have seen on other units, and provides no warnings of speed cameras or red light cameras. While there is a speed warning alert, this is not based on map information but a user-configured preset.
Battery life on the unit was around 3.5 hours in our tests, but power-saving options can be configured in order to conserve power while out of the car.
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