недеља, 23. јануар 2011.

Nextar ME 3.5″ GPS

We acquired a Nextar ME 3.5″ GPS online. It arrived in a sturdy cardboard box which we opened and promptly discovered that a part was missing. The Nextar is advertised online, and according to the ads the package is supposed to include an AC power adapter. It didn’t.
What was in the package:
the GPS itself – a fairly well made unit as far as fit and finish go,
a windshield attachment with a magnet,
a plastic disk with adhesive on one side that allows attaching the suction cup to the other, shiny, side,
a car power supply with a long cord and a mini USB plug,
a carrying bag for the GPS,
manuals in both English and French.
The Nextar runs the iGO 8.3 navigation software, which is one of the best on the market. A good description can be found here. There are several things missing from the Nextar iGO package, the main being building and terrain descriptions. Usually iGO8 will show 3D images of buildings or at least major landmarks and also terrain features like mountains. The Nextar version is missing this information. Nextar also included only the default skin and color scheme. This though is easily corrected as we will discuss below.
We tested the Nextar navigation system indoors and, when placed next to a window, it acquired the satellites within 40 seconds from a cold start. In a single story house it managed to keep a lock on the satellites anywhere in the house. Quite impressive.
The Nextar version of iGO comes with TTS (Text To Speech) as well as regular voices. The user can select a TTS voice and have the system pronounce the name of the street to turn next. Alternatively one of the regular voices will give just the minimal “turn left”, “turn right” directions, which are actually quite good.
We tested the Nextar on a 16 mile drive in Las Vegas, NV. The display was visible if somewhat washed out in the bright sun. It was useful. The sound is another matter. The speaker is extremely tinny and iGO doesn’t play well with the hardware. If volume is set to dynamically increase with speed it does so in large increments. A speed change from 30 mph to 40mph can double the volume. The speaker’s power range is narrow and setting the unit to a high volume distorts the sound and makes the whole contraption vibrate. At medium volume with dynamic volume control disabled, the unit sounds reasonably loud, though still tinny. The best compromise we found was to set the dynamic range from a minimum of 55mph to maximum of 110mph. At this setting the volume changes were not as abrupt.
Our other gripe is with the maps Nextar chose to install. TeleAtlas and Navstar maps are available for iGO. Both companies update their maps at least once a year. As was mentioned in a previous post on this blog TeleAtlas maps have serious errors in the US. In addition to installing TeleAtlas maps Nextar has no provision for updating the installed maps. On our system, which was made at the end of 2009, the maps are from 2008.
The Nextar ME is easy to hack. It connects to any computer running Microsoft’s ActiveSync. From that point you can open the file viewer and, for example, add skins and color schemes. It also makes updating the maps possible by just buying and update directly form NaviExtras at https://www.naviextras.com/shop/portal.
If you buy maps and a new version of iGO on a Secure Digital card it is a simple matter to direct the Nextar ME to start the navigation program from the card. Just modify the text file SHELL.INI in the root of the ResidentFlash directory.
Nextar provided a MP3 player and a picture viewer. Both are of limited utility. The display is only 3.5″ diagonal – about as large as the displays on many cameras. Why you would want to use it to view pictures is unclear. MP3 may sound OK through earphones but would be torture to listen through the internal speaker.
Conclusion: the Nextar ME 3.5″ GPS is a reasonable system, especially for the price. It has some good features, like a sensitive GPS receiver and excellent navigation software. It lacks mainly in the sound department. It is hard to find anything competitive at the price, but probably paying $10 or $20 more would be worth it.
The ME 3.5″ could be useful to travelers: it’s light and compact. The fabric pouch that came in the package should be useful to carry it while traveling.
The car holder includes a sticky disk and a regular suction cup with a mount. The mount is very convenient. It uses a strong magnet to hold securely the GPS, which makes it easy to remove the unit when necessary. No fumbling required.

1 коментар:

  1. Congratulations! This is the great things. Thanks to giving the time to share such a nice information.
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