ASUS S102 Multimedia Navigator
- Destinator 6 software, quick to pick up a GPS signal, price
- Sunlight glare an issue, main menu navigation sluggish, lacks some advanced features, questionable build quality, less than inspiring design
The S102 comes at a good price, but although the navigational experience was solid, it just doesn't do enough to command a glowing rapport. There are plenty of better options available on the market.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
The ASUS S102 offers fully fledged turn-by-turn navigation, a photo viewer and MP3 player. Unfortunately, despite the use of the popular Destinator mapping software, the S102 falls well short of most other units on the market thanks to a slow user interface, questionable build quality and a largely uninspiring design.
The S102 has a straightforward, simple interface with clearly labelled selection boxes for most sections. The 3.5in, 320 x 240 pixel display makes it fairly easy to navigate through the unit, and a stylus is housed in the rear if you don't want to use your finger. The screen is adequate, although not as bright and clear as competing models. Sunlight glare is an issue; on a bright day, we struggled to see the screen while driving. Our main issue with the interface is when adjusting settings. The S102 is very sluggish and has an annoying chime tone when you tap the screen that can't be turned off.
The undoubted strength of the S102 is the Destinator software, also used on the Hitachi models MMP-401 and MMP-501. Unlike most other units, suburbs aren't filtered by state. Instead you'll get a full list of suburbs in Australia, with the state in brackets. For example, Fairfield (NSW) and Fairfield (VIC). Street names are then filtered by suburb, reducing the list of streets during searching to a manageable number. The S102 allows navigation directly to a house number, intersection or to the middle of a street.
The main menu of the Destinator software is made up of many large boxes with text and coloured icons, so first time users shouldn't have any problems understanding it. There are icons for address, recent locations, favourites and points of interest (POI). Tapping the settings button on this screen also allows users adjust all navigational options. Meanwhile tapping the address button allows you to navigate to a specific address. A host of POI's are also available, such as airports, shopping centres, parking stations, hospitals and cafes. In total, the S102 comes with over 350,000 POI's out of the box.
ASUS claims the S102 has "high-sensitivity antenna technology" that contributes to the speed of picking up a GPS signal and makes reception more stable. It was a little speedier than normal, taking roughly 30 seconds to acquire a signal, but it wasn't a significant improvement over other models. It uses the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset seen in many other units currently on the market and re-routing times were positive as well, taking just a couple of seconds in most instances.
The maps are simple and easy to read and can be zoomed in and out of easily using the large + and - controls on the touch screen, or the dedicated zoom button below the display. Users can select either a 3D or 2D view, switch between day and night mode and plan multi-stop trips. The S102 also has an avoid area feature; you can program the unit to avoid certain areas when you plan your trip, such as known traffic hot spots, for example. The S102's voice commands were fine, although there is only one voice English voice option which is quite loud at its highest volume level.
The S102 is fairly compact, but rather thick. It measures 110mm x 86.8mm x 20.5mm and weighs a hefty 183g. The unit is finished in a dull, dark grey plastic, with a bright orange corner surrounding the SD card slot and obviously housing the internal antenna. Its build quality is a little questionable; the plastic surrounding the front buttons on our review unit peeled off and wouldn't stick back on properly.
A convenient volume scroll wheel is located on the left hand side of the S102, so changing volume while driving is easy. Maps are loaded onto the included SD card, the slot located on the left hand side. The right side has a headphone jack, mini-USB port, and the volume scroll wheel. Dedicated zoom, mute, menu and power buttons adorn the row of space just below the display.
The S102 also includes an MP3 player and photo viewer. Files can be stored on the unit's 64MB of internal memory, but if you want to store your multimedia on an SD card, you'll have to buy an extra card and swap them over. This will also mean you can't use the GPS functionality until you reinsert the default card, but that is a common situation with most media capable GPS units. The MP3 player is very basic with only repeat and random play options but there is a four preset equaliser and it is easy to use thanks to large, easy to tap controls on the touch screen. Sound quality from the external speaker is below average though.
ASUS rates the S102 battery life up to four hours, but we experienced closer to three hours with moderate usage. Keep in mind that use of the photo viewer and MP3 functions will diminish battery life further. The S102 sales package includes an AC charger, in car charger and window mount.
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