Australia’s most comprehensive street directory is now electronic.
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 Then they all go out of date.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?
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.
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.