Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Hitachi Australia MMP-401B
- Text-to-speech technology, user interface, included safety camera warnings, Destinator software
- Basic entertainment application, sluggish to pick up a GPS signal, heavy and bulky
The upgraded MMP-401B offers text-to-speech technology, an improved user interface and red light, fixed speed camera and school zone warnings. At this price, it's good value.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Hitachi has slightly upgraded its GPS units, by adding a 'B' to the end of their range - starting with their entry-level MMP-401B. Although the changes are sparse, the user interface is crisper and better laid out than the previous MMP-401, and text-to-speech technology means the unit reads out street names.
Looking to buy a GPS device? Visit our updated Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Buying Guide before you buy!
The MMP-401B's user interface remains easy to use, with clearly labelled selection boxes for most sections. The display is adequate, though it has a fairly poor viewing angle and sunlight can be an issue on a bright day.
Searching for an address is fairly simple. Suburbs aren't filtered by state - instead you'll get a full list of suburbs in Australia, with the state in brackets. Street names are then filtered by suburb, reducing them to a manageable number. The MMP-401B allows navigation directly to a house number, or to the middle of a street. Conveniently, when finalising a route, you can choose either the quickest or shortest route just before navigation starts, as well as add stops to your trip.
The main menu encompasses four large boxes with text and a coloured icon. There are icons for route, go to, options and extras. Tapping the 'go to' button allows you to navigate to a specific address, point of interest (POI), recent locations and saved favourites. The MMP-401B has over 500,000 POI's out of the box.
While the general navigational experience of the MMP-401B is solid, the time to find and maintain a GPS signal can again be improved. The MMP-401B often takes more than a minute to find a GPS signal, despite using the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset. Re-routing times are a positive though, taking just a few seconds in most instances.
Despite having just a single English voice option, voice commands are solid. Text-to-speech technology is an excellent addition, though the voice does struggle with some longer street names. Although there is no external volume controls, a quick tap of the volume icon on the map screen allows you to quickly adjust volume with the slide of your finger.
The MMP-401B ships with Sensis V14 Australian maps, stored on the unit's 256MB SD memory. They can be zoomed in and out of easily using the + and - controls on the touch screen. You can select either a 3D or 2D view, with the map oriented with either north up or track up (the direction you are travelling facing upwards). Tapping the bar at the bottom of the map cycles through the displayable options including the kilometres travelled, the current speed and distance remaining. Red light cameras, fixed speed cameras and school zone alerts are all included.
For extra maps, as well as MP3 and MP4 multimedia files, an SD card slot is located on the left-hand side, alongside a reset button. The included multimedia player is very basic, but it is easy to use thanks to large, easy to tap controls on the touch screen - though the buttons aren't labelled so the instruction manual is a resource worth reading. 3.5mm headphones are included in the package.
The MMP-401B has a quoted battery life of 3.5 hours, though this will diminish with use of the multimedia features. For charging, Hitachi includes both an AC charger and an in-car charger in the sales package.
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