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Navman GPS for iPAQ (for the Palm m version click here)
 - by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

New Zealand based Navman, established in 1988, is a leading manufacturer of world-class marine electronics and GPS technology. (If you wonder how GPS works, read our GPS FAQ.) They offer GPS solutions for both handheld devices and notebooks. Here are the GPS products for handhelds:

GPS 3420: Sleeve that supports iPAQ 3600 through 5400 series and also has a CF card slot that supports type I and type II cards, $299.95; This is the model we used for this review. The package comes with a 12-channel GPS receiver in iPAQ Sleeve form, SmartST Professional navigation software and NAVTECH US maps on 2 CDs, a vehicle windshield mounting bracket, cigarette lighter power cable and a Quickstart Guide. The GPS sleeve uses power from iPAQ and you should get runtimes of 1.5 to 2.2 hours with full backlighting and GPS enabled. The iPAQ can be charged through the vehicle power cable.

Navman GPS

 

Installation
Since the Navman GPS for iPAQ comes in the form of a sleeve, all you have to do is slide your iPAQ into the sleeve. The mounting bracket is fairly standard and easy to install. SmartST Professional Navigation software comes with the map CDs (two CDs for US map: Western and Eastern US). There is cleanly designed menu interface that helps you with the software installation. Clicking on “Install SmartST Professional” will install the GPS software on your iPAQ. It must be installed before you can install maps on the iPAQ. “Install Maps” will lead you to the map installation screen. This interface will look familiar if you have used NAVTECH maps for the US, a mapping technology used with several GPS technologies including the Destinator for Pocket PCs. The Navman map installation interface is a bit different since it has some additional bells and whistles. The US map is divided into 23 zones on 2 CDs; the largest zone takes 47 MB, and you can install them on your storage card. In fact, Navman has made it very easy for you to install the maps on your storage card: not only is there a built-in CF card slot on the jacket, but there’s also a Refresh Storage Areas function, which will check for available storage cards and list them with used space/available space information. You must, however, close your GPS application on your iPAQ if you want to refresh the storage card info.

Since there are 2 CDs for the US maps and GPS software, there is a Swap CD button in case you need the other CD. To check which zone has the map you need, just put your cursor over that zone, a pop-up window will show the coverage. Once you select the zones, you will see Space Required and Space Available information at the bottom of the zone listing. Navman does not require any installation on desktop. There are other shortcut buttons for quick access: Loaded Maps, Clear Selections, Find City and Install Maps.

There are also links on the main software installation menu to Upgrade iPAQ H3600 Series, Quick Start Guide, Read User Manual and Visit NAVMAN for Updates.

Navigation
Navman 3420’s new and powerful software SmartST Professional has one of the best interfaces you will see on a GPS for handheld devices. The Main Menu has a slick look with sharp icons and menu links to Quick Nav, Destination, Instruction List, GPS Status, Volume and Setup. You can use the D-pad to switch between the SmartST main menu and map screens conveniently on the road.

Navman’s SmartST Professional software offers quick and convenient ways to navigate your destinations. You can search for the destination by Address, by Intersection, by point of interest (POI), by Favorite or by Recent. To find your destination by Address, you can either enter a city and street name, or a general area, and then choose the destination from the list of the available places. Click on the Show button to see a map of this area or Go to map out a route to this destination from your current location. The only issue I’ve encountered with this feature is that the text in the Area window only allows certain number of characters. So for example, if you are looking for “Mountain View, California”, you will see “Mountain View, California, San” while the county Santa Clara is cut off due to the number of text allowed. There are two cities with the name Mountain View in California, and both their counties start with San, so I had to look at other clues to figure out which was the one I wanted.

 

 

 

 

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To search destinations by Intersection, simply enter the area you want to search in like “Manhattan, New York” and the two street names. Searching by POI, simply choose from the categories of POI and the area. The categories include Hospitals, Entertainment, Automotive Facilities, Food and Drink, Financial Services, Shopping and more. When I looked up the Amenities in Mountain View, California, here are the POI listed: “Hewlett-Packard, Hewlett-Packard Software Rep, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View Public Library, Netscape Communications, Sun Microsystems.” To navigate by Favorite, first you must create the Fav list. SmartST can store up to 30 common destinations on the favorite list. Find a destination by Address, Intersection or POI, then tap and hold the location until the pop-up menu comes on, select Add to Favorites. The location can also be added as any one of three Quick Nav locations, which you can access with a single click from the Quick Nav screen. You can edit, delete, or use Show and Go functions to modify or navigate the Favorite destinations. The SmartST navigation software can also store up to 20 of the most recent destinations and you can access them by clicking on the Recent button.

Driving
As I mentioned before, you can use the D-pad to switch between maps and the main menu, as well as Zoom in and out of the map. Besides the Map Screen, you will also see the Navigation Screen, Combination Screen and Instruction that assist you while driving. The Map screen shows the route you’ve navigated and tracks your progress. It has the re-nav feature in case you miss a turn on the planned route. The Navigation Screen shows your route turn-by-turn in large fonts and icons. It includes information about your next turn using text and an icon, distance to the next turn, the street you are currently on, your moving speed, ETA and current time. The Combination Screen combines the Map Screen and Navigation Screen in a very efficient way so that you can see the map as well as the next turn instructions. The Instruction Screen is a text based instruction list for the route with turning icons and distance to next turns.

If you turn on the sound on your iPAQ, you will hear voice guidance that gives you complete handholding instructions in your choice of Male or Female voice. The human voice is extremely clear to hear, no synthesized effects. There is a quick link from the main menu of SmartST for you to test the sound volume.

There are a few things in the Setup Options that make Navman GPS even better. In the Display option, you can select a driving condition between Day and Night, as well as a Map Color Scheme. Having the correct settings will increase your ability to see the maps and instructions. Voice Guidance allows you to enable the voice, choose Male or Female voice, and to select Miles or kilometers for distance display. In Route options, you can pick whether you prefer the Quickest Time or Shortest Distance option, check Avoid Toll Roads, Avoid Urban Areas options, Automatic Rerouting option and hit the Start button for recording the travel on a route. The POI (point of interest) option has all the available POI categories listed, you can check off the ones you won’t need.

 

 

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GPS Status and Map Software
The Cold start of the GPS takes about 2 minutes and Warm start takes a minute or less. The reception of this GPS isn’t the best I’ve seen. I had to try a couple of restarts each time I turned on the GPS. The largest number of satellites I could get signals from was 5 3D fix. The display of the GPS status, however, is very easy to use and clear to see. There is an on/off button on top of the screen for you to switch off the GPS to save power when not in use and switch on to get signal. Latitude and longitude are displayed along with a compass heading in degrees and ground speed. There is a large circle in the middle of this screen that’s color coded to show the status of the GPS fix. It is green when there is a 2D or 3D fix, and red when no fix is available. Most of the time a 2D fix is efficient enough to navigate your driving routes. On top of the circle, this is a segment looks like a RPM meter in your car. This is used to indicate number of satellites being tracked and contributing. A yellow segment indicates a satellite that is being tracked but is not contributing to a fix. A red segment indicates a satellite that is contributing to a 2D fix. A green segment indicates a satellite that is used for a 3D fix.

Navman 3420 for iPAQ uses NAVTECH’s map technology covering US on 2 CDs. Navman also offers GPS solutions for PDAs in Europe.

Conclusion
The visual aid and voice guidance in SmartST Professional are powerful and slick. The form factor of the jacket combines cool industrial design with the convenience of a bonus CF card slot. It feels comfortable and solid, but not heavy in your hand. The GPS signal could be stronger and the GPS start-up could be more smoothly. It does not have the integration with the Contacts App on the Pocket PC.

Navman 3420 for iPAQ is priced at $299.95 and can be purchased at Fry’s Electronics, Micro Center or check the Navman website for additional local retailers.