Navway Street Navigator

Product Name: Navway Street Navigator
Product Type: GPS portable / MP3 / Bluetooth / image viewer
Price: $899
Reviewed By: Marty Price
Magazine: INCAR Entertainment: October/November 2007
Distributor: Ausway Publishing Pty Ltd
Who Sells What/Website: Navway

Australia’s most comprehensive street directory is now electronic.

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I still have an old paper street directory in the back of my car. And not entirely because I’m too stubborn to outlay the cash for a navigation system — I’m blessed in reviewing enough navigation systems that I’m always able to find my way around electronically anyway.

paper or portable?

Of course, the navigator versus paper directory debate rages around various issues. Cost is often called into question first — $899 would buy you a lot of street guides. But consider this: the most common problem with a paper directory is that the place you’re going to is located in a new complex that was only built last year. That old 1976 street directory doesn’t even show the suburb, let alone the street. So you purchase a new directory.

Then you go to another city – and purchase yet another directory. Then you attend an event in another state. Thought you could find it, but end up at a petrol station buying a street guide. Then they all go out of date. Seeing a pattern here?

mapping quality

Suddenly the price argument loses steam when you consider the navigation system operates Australia-wide and can be completely updated with a quick download from the internet. But with so many navigation systems on the market now, how can you be assured that any particular option is accurate? Well, at least when considering this Navway, you know it’s manufactured by the same company that prints the aforementioned street directories, so you’re in pretty safe hands. Given that most GPS portables are quite close in performance terms, I didn’t expect the Navway Street Navigator to knock my socks off. Yes it has Bluetooth compatibility (allowing you to couple your phone to the unit) and the ability to play music either through a tiny speaker in the rear or headphones. Many other portables also include these. The Navway takes the option list one step further by offering you a photo storage device and viewer as well; a cute addition in any case.

The Street Navigator is quite a thin unit (measuring 132 x 91 x 22mm) and weighs only 210 grams. The unit is finished with a very smart blend of gloss black on the front and textured black shock-resistant plastic on the rear. Across the front face is a smart silver strip that contains the function and charging light. Lined along the bottom is a reset button, earphone jack, multiple pin connector (for future components) and USB input (which also serves as a charger). Lined up along the top of the unit is an SD/MMC card slot. The unit comes with plenty of hardware too including a protective pocket, various quick release mounting brackets for the unit to click into and numerous power plugs (including European and American pin setup). It also includes a car charger for 12V charging.

Turning to the technical functionality I’ll start with the physical display. The low-glare liquid crystal touchscreen measures 95mm x 55mm and boasts high resolution colour (65563 colours) making it one of the cleanest images I’ve seen so far. Like most navigation systems it also makes an audible click sound to let you know that you have touched the screen with the stylus (which is located within the side), handy when you’re driving along trying to judge whether you’ve selected something.

The internal GPS antenna is located on the rear of the unit and in most cases will be strong enough for accurate navigation. However, if you require a stronger signal then there is also provision for an external aerial to be plugged in. When setting the unit up you can select from various languages, choose from various power saving options, set brightness, contrast and volume levels, in addition to setting other associated criteria, including clock.

Navigation

Of the four main abilities of the unit, I’ll begin with the navigation. The unit is loaded with the latest Medion/GoPal/Navway map software (and is fully upgradeable via a PC) and supports a myriad of features including spoken voice instructions (with a soothing voice to calm you when you’re in the M5 car park).

It also has a fully programmable point-of-interest (aka POI) database to which you can add your own points of interest to the already extensive list. This list includes not only the usual restaurants, places of interest, emergency services, banks and service stations, but even more exotic places such as embassies, border crossings, bowling clubs, ice skating rinks and marinas just to mention a few – the list is long. There are also alerts for red light and speed camera locations, satellite strength indicator, itinerary event display, distance-to-turn indicator, estimated time of arrival indicator, route time remaining display, address book (including a search function and favourites listing), return home function, destination history, day/night switch ability (you can dim the display at night so it doesn’t blind you), route preference selection and switchable map orientation (two or three dimension map display). The unit can also let you know what the highest and average speed was during your trip. This is all controlled via a virtual keyboard which can also be configured to QWERTY or phone layout.


 

The second facet of the Navway Street Navigator is the audio functionality. The unit has an inbuilt MP3 player, and songs are stored via the SD card. Using the touchscreen you can scroll though the various song lists and choose your various settings for playback via the small speakers on the rear (not recommended) or via the headphones supplied. Using the headphones allows you to take the unit with you when you leave the car. You can also select various play modes such as shuffle, repeat and repeat all. The absence of a detailed equalizer is a negative, but there is only so much you can fit into a unit of this size.

As navigation systems begin emerging with better quality screens, they are fast becoming mobile viewing stations. As is the case with the music files, you can sort images (loaded via USB or SD/MMC card) into folders or organise them into a continuous slide show if you wish. You also have a very limited image manipulation tool which allows for rotation, fade and zoom.

Bluetooth

The fourth and final facet of the unit is the Bluetooth functionality. By using this you effectively turn the Navway Street Navigator into a Bluetooth phone kit, allowing you to make and receive calls via the unit while your phone sits elsewhere (in the glove box or your pocket for example). You can visit various controls of your phone via the unit, including contact lists, call routing (this displays the route of calls made and received), in addition to dialling on screen via the touch display.

While I was setting the unit up on the dash of my car (attached to the windscreen) I noticed an interesting warning in the instructions that states the unit shouldn’t be mounted within 10 feet of electrical or magnetic sources. Considering my car (as many do) has speakers mounted in the A pillars, ten feet is near impossible. Happily this seems unnecessary caution — indeed, otherwise Navway should come up with a better shielded case design!

Moving along the actual testing, initial setting up and use of the unit was easy, assisted by a very clearly labelled booklet included with the unit. Cruising around the navigation handled most tasks without dramas, telling me where to go with plenty of warning ,with its smooth automated voice. One of my favourite haunts to test navigation systems is the back lots of Balmain and Rozelle where there are a lot of small unmarked lanes. The Navway held its ground quite well here, only losing the street twice. One final bonus is individual labelling of petrol companies’ stations, as opposed to just the generic petrol station tag — be handy for fleet cars that operate with one petrol card brand.

We’re also advised that a map upgrade is imminent, adding the latest Medion GoPal 3.0 software, which should clean up the software interface a little, and add information of current and average speed. The maps that will be installed on the units as part of the upgrade are NAVTEQ Q2, 2007 – the most up-to-date maps in Australia.

Overall the Navway Street Navigation is quite a smart little unit, although its music and picture abilities are a little dubious — extras that fall short of full functionality. Still, as navigation systems like this continuously push further into the territory of PDAs, it’s only a matter of time before they integrate fully in the one unit. Meanwhile Navway has a reliable and powerful navigation tool that merits the price differential over more entry-level GPS portables.

Tech Specs

NAVWAY STREET NAVIGATOR

TYPE Bluetooth-ready, dash-mounted navigation with music player and image viewer.
FEATURES USB input, SD/MMC card port, 3.5mm headphone jack, MP3 player, image viewer, Bluetooth and clock. COST $899
CONTACT Navway on 1300 884 987
DISTRIBUTOR Navway