MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
Hitachi Australia MMP-501
- Large 5in screen, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, Music and video playback, User interface, Good volume levels, Competitive price
- Chunky and heavy, Entertainment offering lacks features, Somewhat slow to pick up a GPS signal, Large and bulky window mount, Poor battery life
If you can overlook the size and the rather basic entertainment features, this GPS does the job and for what it offers, the MMP-501 comes in at a very respectable price point compared with many other units on the market.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
A first foray into the world of GPS for Hitachi, the MMP-501 is a bulky GPS unit that offers a large 5in touch screen display, Bluetooth hands free connectivity and video and music playback, all at a very competitive price.
The MMP-501 offers an easy to use interface. The large screen makes it simple to navigate, with clearly labelled selection boxes for most sections. The display is more than adequate, although not as bright as some others on the market. Sunlight glare can be a significant problem; on a bright summer day, we struggled to see the screen, and the viewing angle could be improved.
The MMP-501 software is quite intuitive. Unlike most other units, suburbs aren't filtered by state though; 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 to a manageable number. The MMP-501 allows navigation directly to a house number, intersection or even to the middle of a street.
The main menu encompasses four large boxes with text and coloured icons, so even first time users shouldn't have any problems understanding it. There are icons for address, my places, food, fuel, lodging and map options. Here you can also adjust all navigational settings. Tapping the address button allows navigation to a specific address, while the food, fuel, lodging menu offers access to a host of points of interest (POI's), amongst them airports, shopping centres, parking lots, hospitals and cafes. The MMP-501 has over 350,000 POI's out of the box, and you can also add custom ones if you feel the need.
While the general navigational experience of the MMP-501 is solid, the time to find and maintain a GPS signal could be improved. The MMP-501 often took more than a minute and a half to find a signal, despite using the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset seen in many other units currently on the market. Re-routing times were more positive, taking just a couple of seconds in most instances.
Voice commands were average as English has just one voice option and the MMP-501 doesn't offer a sample before selecting it. On the up side though, the unit is extremely loud at its highest setting and the external volume wheel is a nice inclusion.
The MMP-501's 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. You can select either a 3D or 2D view, and have the map oriented with either north up or track up (the direction you are travelling facing upwards). Tapping the bar below the map cycles through the options including kilometres travelled current speed and distance remaining. The MMP-501 uses WhereIs Sensis maps in Australia and these are preloaded onto the unit's 256MB of flash memory. In addition to this, an SD card slot is located on the left hand side for storing extra media or maps, and there is also an AV input for video playback on a TV via the included Composite cables. The left side offers an AC power jack, headphone jack and volume wheel, while a standard mini-USB connector for PCs is located underneath.
Bluetooth hands free calling is also available on the MMP-501 although the interface could use some work. Mobile phones are paired to the unit via the Bluetooth settings menu, but a Bluetooth search must be initiated on both the MMP-501 and a mobile phone to pair. Unlike the nuvi 660 the MMP-501 doesn't have access to phonebooks, nor can it use voice dialling commands or read out SMS messages like the GO 910, so it is limited to simple voice calls. Phone numbers can be dialled using the on screen keyboard but the keys are small and not in a traditional keypad layout.
The MMP-501 also includes an entertainment player for MP3 music files and MPEG-4 video files. These files can be stored on an SD card or on the unit's internal memory. The player is very basic with only repeat and random play options and no equaliser, but it is easy to use thanks to large, easy to tap controls on the touch screen.
The MMP-501 measures 148mm x 85mm x 34mmm and weighs a hefty 335g, making it one of the largest and heaviest GPS units on the market. The window mount was also very bulky, making it frustrating to quickly stick to a car window.
The MMP-501 has a rather poor battery life according to Hitachi's figures. On average, we experienced up to two and a half hours, which is a poor result compared to the competition. Also note that using the Bluetooth hands-free feature will drain battery life significantly. For charging, Hitachi includes both an AC charger and an in-car charger in the sales package.
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