So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Uniden's mid-range GPS unit provides a competent navigational experience for a reasonable price
- Adept address search method, text-to-speech, Bluetooth, Australia and New Zealand maps, red light and speed camera alerts, 3D landmarks and terrain
- Bland design, cluttered map screen, microphone performance, erratic GPS performance in city areas
Uniden's TRAX 353 has a cluttered map screen and a bland design, but it combines a decent set of features and performance for a competitive price.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
A mid-range GPS boasting some excellent features for the asking price, the Uniden TRAX353 is a solid unit that is let down by an overly busy map screen. Despite this it offers excellent value for money and delivers reasonable performance.
The Uniden TRAX353 isn’t going to win any awards for its looks, with a plain two-tone black and grey colour scheme. On the right, an AC power connection and mini-USB port are present, while an SD card slot is located at the bottom of the unit. Annoyingly, the TRAX353 doesn't charge via USB, and there is no AC adapter included in the sales package. Unlike the Uniden TRAX436, the TRAX353 doesn’t include a microphone or a socket to connect an external antenna.
The Uniden TRAX353's user interface is a mixed bag. The navigation menu is simple enough, with four large buttons that provide access to Find, Manage, Route and Settings menus. The map screen is a different story: although it's not too difficult to grasp it is a little busy for our liking, with plenty of buttons and icons making it feel cluttered. Thankfully, the 3.5in touch screen is responsive, making the smaller buttons on the map screen easy to press.
Navigating to an address on the Uniden TRAX353 is a five step process that guides you through the selection of country, state, city, street name and house number. Once you've narrowed down your search, you can also navigate to a city centre, street midpoint or an intersection. Unlike many other units, address input takes place on a single screen. Conveniently, the on-screen keyboard eliminates letters that do not correspond to possible addresses, narrowing the potential search results.
Despite the TRAX353's reasonable price point, Uniden has included a fair number of features, including Bluetooth hands free, text-to-speech, 3D landmarks and terrain, fixed speed and red-light camera alerts, and multipoint route planning. Not all of these features are inspiring though — the 3D landmarks make the map screen more cluttered in our opinion, though the elevated view of particular roads that comes with the 3D terrain is an excellent feature and does aid navigation. The 3D terrain views are especially useful when identifying highway and freeway entrance and exit ramps, and overlapping roads.
The Uniden TRAX353's text-to-speech technology is clear and loud, and pronounces most street names with few issues. We had no problems pairing our phone via Bluetooth; the TRAX353 can pair with multiple phones and sync phonebook data, but only one phone can be connected at any one time. Voice quality during hands-free calling is less than impressive — outgoing audio in particular, as the microphone isn't sensitive enough.
The TRAX353 uses a NemeriX GPS receiver and performance is adequate. Using the unit in the city did result in a loss of signal at times, most likely due to the tall buildings and the lack of clear view of the sky. However, start-up times were reasonable, with the TRAX353 taking around 30 seconds to find and maintain a signal in most instances.
The TRAX 353 uses Nav N Go's iGO navigation software, but doesn't provide a root menu outside of the software; it simply boots straight into the iGO software. As a result, the TRAX353 doesn't have any multimedia or non-navigational functionality (though we didn't expect any at this low price point). Maps of both Australia and New Zealand are included on the unit.
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