Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Nokia 330 Auto Navigation
- Good screen, simple and easy to read maps, decent navigational performance
- Search method, on-screen keyboard, no included AC charger, can't charge via mini-USB, no red light or speed camera alerts
The 330 Auto Navigation is Nokia's first stand-alone GPS. The result is a solid, but not outstanding unit that is let down by an impractical address search method.
Price$ 649.00 (AUD)
The GPS navigation market is hotting up, with many companies keen to get a slice of the pie. Finnish mobile phone giants Nokia are just one of them, releasing the 330 Auto Navigation; their first ever stand-alone GPS unit. Combining a 3.5in touch screen, a 512GB SD card with maps, as well as multimedia playback for photos, videos and music, the 330 is a solid, but not outstanding navigation unit.
The 330 Auto Navigation is the first GPS unit we've reviewed that uses Route 66's Navigate 7 software. The mapping data is provided by Navteq, one of the worlds largest providers of digital map data. Navteq is particularly popular in North America and Europe, but the 330 is one of the first units to use their data in Australia.
The biggest difference in Route 66's Navigate 7 software to other units we've reviewed is the way users search for an address. You don't enter a suburb, address and house number separately. Instead, you type in the entire address and are then presented with a list of closely matching locations. We weren't impressed with the search function, as a number of unwanted locations are presented when searching for a house address, such as nearby restaurants and other points of interest (POI). When we entered our full office address, for example, the 330 found 10 locations, including four POI's. This is far from ideal since all we wanted to find was one address. We much prefer the regular method of searching for a suburb, street and then house number as this eliminates most unwanted results.
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]. Street names aren't filtered either, so if you are looking for a street but don't know the suburb, then you'll be presented with a fairly long list to scroll through. The 330 allows navigation directly to a house number and a POI around your destination, but you can't navigate to an intersection. You can navigate to a destination via intermediate points though, and the software allows as many stops as you like. Unfortunately, the on screen keyboard when typing in an address is quite small, and it isn't in a QWERTY layout. Users will often find themselves accidentally bumping the wrong letters and this gets frustrating quite quickly.
The main menu of the Route 66 software is made up of many boxes with text and coloured icons, which is laid out in a clear and intuitive manner. Tapping the 'Navigate to' button allows you to enter a location, while 'Map options' and 'Change settings' allows users to adjust all navigational options. A host of POI's are available, such as airports, shopping centres, car park, hospitals and cafes. Unfortunately, the 330 doesn't feature red light or speed camera alerts.
The 330 uses the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset seen in many other units currently on the market. It took between 30 seconds and a minute to find and maintain a solid GPS signal and we didn't experience any drop outs. Re-routing times were quite impressive as well, taking just a couple of seconds in most instances.
The maps are simple and easy to read and can be zoomed in and out of using the large + and - controls at the top of the display. Users can select either a 3D or 2D view, and switch between day and night. Unfortunately, the 330 doesn't include an avoid area feature. Voice commands were fine, although there is only one voice English voice option, and the 330 does lack some more advanced features such as reading out street names.
The 330 is marketed as an auto navigation device, but it's not limited to navigation. While the multimedia features are a nice touch, none of them do an outstanding job. There aren't any major issues, but if you are looking for a portable multimedia player first and foremost, then there are better options on the market. The 330 comes with a 512MB miniSD card and a miniSD card adaptor, but since the software and maps are stored on this too, there isn't much room left for multimedia. Users wishing to use the 330 for multimedia would be best advised to purchase an extra SD card, but keep in mind that swapping the cards means you won't have access to navigation.
From the main menu, users can select MP3, movies and photos. Multimedia files such as videos and music can easily be dropped and dragged onto the SD card using a USB card reader (sold separately) or by connecting the 330 to a PC using the included standard mini-USB cable. The music player supports MP3 and WMA files, the video player MPEG4, WMV, ASF, MPG and AVI clips while BMP and JPEG files are available for photos. The 330's display is unremarkable for video playback and photos, but its fine for the occasional holiday snap or music video. Unfortunately, sound quality is below average as the rear speaker suffers from distortion at higher volume levels. A 3.5mm headphone jack is included though, meaning you can use your own headphones which does improve the experience.
The 330 has a straightforward, simple interface with clearly labelled icons and the 3.5in, 320 x 240 pixel LCD makes it fairly easy to navigate through the unit. The screen is quite good for navigation, as sunlight glare wasn't an issue; we managed to see it clearly regardless of the lighting conditions.
The 330 has dedicated buttons for home, navigate to, screen on/off, and volume up/down controls, and these are all to the right of the display. The headphone jack, mini-USB connection and SD card slot are all located on the left side, while the right side has a socket for an extra antenna to boost GPS reception. The power input is at the top of the unit, along with a lock slider, which prevents accidental screen taps and is ideal for use during multimedia playback. The 330 is a decent sized unit, measuring 119mm x 83mm x 24mm and weighing 205g.
A sour point is the lack of an AC charger; the 330 only includes an in-car charger for powering the unit, and it can't be charged via mini-USB. Many users would like to charge the unit at home, as the cigarette lighter adaptor may be used for any number of other devices. Nokia claims the 330 will last four hours after a full charge, but we experienced slightly less taking into account the use of the multimedia functions.
The 330 comes packaged with a cradle, a suction cup window mount, a microSD card containing Australian maps, a microSD card to SD card adaptor, an in-car charger, and a standard mini-USB cable.
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