Smartphone GPS applications may be making an impact in the world of navigation, but standalone units aren't going away. Now increasingly packed with features that used to be considered premium add-ons, portable navigation is still evolving, and here are three mid-range models that offer something unique in that mould.
TomTom GO 730
- Available at: Best Buy and Future Shop
The inclusion of TomTom's IQ Routes technology can make a difference when it comes to getting somewhere a little bit quicker, since TomTom collects travel and location data from other navigation units and factors them into map updates.
The 4.3-inch screen is bright and detailed, much like TomTom's maps always are. Directions are clear and concise, and you do have the option of paying extra for other unique voices. Voice command functions allow you to search through speech rather than typing, which is great, but integrated Bluetooth misses the mark because of a consistently shaky connection. Traffic updates are not included, though you can piggyback off a smartphone to use the data connection (the iPhone didn't work with this).
The GO 730 falters when it comes to battery life, which seems to drain even when the unit is powered off. At most, it will last four hours without a power source.
Magellan RoadMate 3065
- $219.99 (U.S.)
- "Coming soon" to Canadian retail
The 4.7-inch screen is very noticeable, and the quality of the maps in 3D are pleasing to the eye. Voiced directions are clear, though monotone in delivery. Bluetooth integration works better here compared to the other units, but Magellan doesn't have the kind of user-driven map updates TomTom does.
A particular favourite is the One Touch menu that provides instant access to a list of locations or points of interest. Home, gas and emergency are preloaded, but you can add others. If you wanted only a specific bank, supermarket or restaurant type, you could assign them to the One Touch menu for easier access. Pressing one will pop up a list with the closest location at the top.
The RoadMate 3065 includes lifetime traffic updates, but this is at the mercy of the NAVTEQ maps, which only cover southern Ontario and Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Garmin nuvi 1490T
- Available at: Costco, Best Buy, Future Shop, Amazon.ca
With the largest screen of the three navigation units here at 5 inches, the 1490T is surprisingly thin and light for its size. Marketed as both an automotive and pedestrian navigation unit, it's hard to say how well the latter works because the cityXplorer maps of select cities in North America and Europe cost an extra $9.99.
Lifetime traffic updates are included, but the antenna is embedded in the power cable, so you have to plug it into the 12-volt socket to get traffic to work, creating a cluttered mess, in the process. The feature functions well enough on the 1490T, but only if you can actually gain access. It works in 10 major Canadian municipalities, and did the job when tested in Toronto.
The ecoRoute feature is a nice touch, taking into account a route's mileage and fuel consumption, except it sometimes chooses the same exact route it normally would anyway.