- Cheaper than a standalone satellite navigation system
- fast route calculation
- flexible interface.
- No dynamic routing or voice prompts
- small screen can make reading the map and instructions difficult
- windscreen attachment not entirely secure.
If you think that paying around £2,000 for a built-in satellite navigation system for your car is excessive, why not consider enhancing your Compaq iPAQ handheld with a Global Positioning System (GPS) for about a tenth of the cost? The NavMan 3000 is towards the lower end of the range of GPS add-ons, costing £249.99 (inc. VAT; £212.76 ex. VAT). It's the same GPS hardware as offered by Compaq with its iPAQ Navigation System (iNS), but lacking a CompactFlash memory card and with a different software bundle.
What you get in the box is a GPS jacket, which incorporates a CompactFlash slot, SMARTPATH City and SMARTPATH Trip software, an in-vehicle mounting arm and a cigarette lighter power adapter. The two supplied CDs contain SMARTPATH City, with a choice of 125,000 town and city maps, and SMARTPATH Trip, which offers a range of 12 European countries longer journeys. The GPS jacket's CompactFlash slot allows you to insert a memory card and download maps when your iPAQ is docked in its cradle, conserving precious memory on the handheld itself.
To get up and running, you first attach the mounting arm's suction cup to your windscreen, slide the iPAQ into the holder, bend the mounting arm to the desired viewing angle, and finally connect the power supply from the cigarette lighter. The curly cable ought to be long enough to reach most windscreens. A word of warning: the windscreen sucker can drop off -- this happened on the second trip in our tests. Fortunately, as it was a short journey, the iPAQ wasn't attached at the time. If it had been, a cracked iPAQ display or other damage is a distinct possibility. For such an expensive bit of kit, a more secure mount really is required.
Once the GPS device has located four satellites, its software calculates your exact position to within a few metres. When combined with mapping data, a GPS device can establish the fastest route to a destination, providing turn-by-turn directions.
The route planner is easy to use. Predictive text allows it to update the drop-down menu options instantly as you type in your starting location. You have a 'crossing option' if you need to go via a particular location. You also have stopover, return, quickest route, shortest route or even walk options. Once you've selected the trip, a thin blue bar races left to right calculating thousands of road possibilities and showing a decreasing distance as it plans the journey. You can then see the entirety of the trip or zoom in to any part of it. A split screen function lets you see part map and part text instructions. The instructions scroll as you begin driving.
If you deviate from the planned route, the map shows you where you are but the instructions don't update. Also if you deviate from the instructions the map keeps your location in the centre of the screen in the direction of the blue arrow. There are no voice instructions, as in the Pocket CoPilot 2.0 software supplied with the same GPS jacket in Compaq's iPAQ Navigation System.
NavMan GPS 3000 does not currently utilise dynamic routing, which gives turn-by-turn feedback if you miss a turning, for example. However, a £150 upgrade is planned that will have voice instructions, search by postcode, day or night view and dynamic routing.