Navigon 7100 – Reviewed

I finally bit the bullet and bought a GPS unit for the car.  I’ve never really done a lot of distance driving in my life.  But have started recently with commuting and with what I’ve gotten myself into lately.  Being that I have a pile of UMPCs kicking around, my original plan as to add a GPS receiver to one of these units, and use an open source GPS mapping program for linux (as mentioned, I try and use windows as little as possible.

Research, research and more research led me to the conclusion that the open source map software doesn’t have my area mapped out very well.  My best option would be to a) use google earth with GPS, and pay for it.. not very “OPEN SOURCE” or “Linuxish” if you ask me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are decent free map programs out there, but not much that is user friendly, or I could pass along to any of my clients.

Enter the Navigon 7100.  You’ll notice that Navigon is not a “Magellan”, “Tom Tom”, “Jim Jim” or “Bob Bob”.  From what I’ve read the company is European, and recently (within a couple years or so) entered the North American market.  European companies are the bomb, as there is a LOT more HEALTHY competition over there, if you don’t believe me… take a look at their cell phone market, TV market, or even internet… some of it may be pricier than over here, but the plans are a lot more reasonable.. and companies have to give a crap about what their customers say/think to get any money.

So why choose Navigon?  I read that they have

  • The only free traffic updates system, no subscription, no monthly fee, no cell phone hookup required.
  • Quarterly Map Updates
  • Cheap Map updates (I think its about 79 bucks U.S. or Canadian gets you 3 years worth of map updates.
  • Last, but certainly not least – it looks cool!

Now that’s out of the way, let’s see how she works.  Of course you have to charge it for 6 hours before playing with it…. That it the absolute worst part of battery powered tech toys…. I like to rip stuff out of the box and have instant gratification.  I’ve done a lot research on it though, and the reviews were 50/50.

6hrs later….

Turn it on… I live in a concrete apartment building on the top floor.  So I took it onto the balcony and fired it up.  I read that I have to be standing away from any tall buildings or trees the first time I turn it on to get a good signal.  Not true, I turned it on, under the roof of concrete on the balcony, and within about 30-45 seconds, I had a connection with 4 satellites.  Couple more seconds, I had my location, and 9 satellites.  Pretty good so far, the 5 year old magellan we have takes about 5-10 minutes to acquire a signal and it’s usually wrong anyways.

After waiting 6 hours, it was about 22:00, and I had to work the next day, so I powered it down, and put it away.

The next day, I hooked it up on the drive to work, I work about 20 minutes from my house, so no destination set, I just drove to work.  I really like that this lets you have all the POIs up as you drive.  So if your hungry… you can see that food is around, or the closest gas station if your on a highway…etc.  No more looking for those signs on the side of the highway, as you whiz past them at 120… trying to decide what to eat.  Let the GPS decide :).  You can even tap on the POI with the stylus, or a finger nail, if you have one.. and get the info.. phone #, actual address, etc.

After reading one of the reviews talking about a free update, I popped on to Navigon’s website and downloaded the update.  People on tiger direct said the update process was not user friendly… but even running Linux, this was a snap.  Download the update, jam your SD Card from the Unit itself into the computer, erase, copy, paste, reboot the unit with  the card back in, and wa-la… done!

The update provided a little better usability… more up to date maps (I’ve come across a road change that was completed last year, but is not in the update… but a) Like I said, my area is pretty small compared to Toronto or other big cities, so no biggie… I like driving my car into the white nothingess on my GPS screen.  And the ETA and Speed algorithms were fixed up a bit.

Traffic Updates -> again, small area, haven’t had a single one pop up for the 2 weeks I’ve owned this Navigon.  I took my first drive with it on the QEW yesterday, and I picked up traffic info from downtown Toronto, without being anywhere close it it.  How does this work without connecting to your phone?  It uses something the Europeans have had around since the 90’s.  I can’t remember exactly what it’s called, but its something like “TTC”.  How it works (in my eyes) is that Traffic info is broadcast on FM channels by the station you are listening too.  Sort of like how REALLY good car stereos will tell you what your listening to on a FM radio station -> automagically.  My old Sony deck does this, and I bought it from a guy who brought it over with him from England.  This radio is Circa 1990s, and it has functions built in for TTC traffic info.

I was a LITTLE worried that the traffic updates would not work in Canada, or around my area.  I’m about a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto if there was 0 traffic.  I was delighted to see that it manages traffic updates perfectly.  I don’t get anything where I live, but as soon as I get near Toronto, or if I plan a route around Toronto, or through it… this little baby starts giving me the low down on everything in the area.  PLanning routes around traffic is pretty good as well.

** I started writing this a month ago, and after a few long trips, and a few with my employer to the States, this unit was a perfect purchase.  I have one HUGE gripe, and that is that this device DOES NOT show Tim Hortons….

This is almost a deal breaker….  of course.. I may be exagurating a little bit… but still… if you want to sell this in Canada, I stongly suggest the next map update comes with TIM HORTONS as POIs.  Its like life blood.. GPS, Coffee, and the ROAD!!!!!!

Hope you enjoy this, Please comment or ask questions… Reviews to come include Blackberry Bold, and Logitech Z-5500s (I know their not the newest thing on the market, but I just upgraded from my logitech z-41 4.1s from about 6 years ago, so I’m LOVING them!)


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