So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Laser Navig8r G43 GPS unit
Laser's latest cut-price GPS offers free map updates, an Australian text-to-speech voice and speed limit warnings
- Free map updates (though not covering new areas), clear Australian text-to-speech voice, cheap, speed limit warnings (optional extra)
- Poor display, bland and chunky design, low quality speaker, keystroke lag when typing
The Laser Navig8r G43 GPS unit offers plenty of features for a relatively low asking price, but a poor quality speaker, a screen that's hard to see in direct sunlight and keystroke lag diminish its appeal.
Price$ 229.00 (AUD)
It looks ugly, its screen is hard to see in direct sunlight and the sound quality is poor, but Laser’s Navig8r G43 GPS unit isn’t all bad news. Retailing for just $229 it offers free map updates, an Australian text-to-speech voice and speed limit warnings.
Laser products aren’t renowned for their looks, and the Navig8r G43 won't change their reputation. It’s cased in a bland, grey plastic with a rubber-style strip covering the top and bottom of the unit. The Navig8r logo above the display looks as though it's been stuck on and the overall feeling is cheap and nasty. To be fair, the plastic casing feels sturdy enough, and the unit seems like it's capable of taking a few knocks and bumps. The included plastic window mount is easy to assemble and the cradle can be twisted left and right.
You’ll quickly appreciate the flexible nature of the cradle, as the Laser Navig8r G43’s display is hard to see in direct sunlight. Wearing sunglasses on a sunny day, we struggled to see the map screen due to the glare off the display. Poor viewing angles are also an issue, though the touch screen is responsive.
The Laser Navig8r G43’s user interface is reasonably effective but the selection boxes and menu options are a little small — considering the size of the screen we feel they could have been larger. For example, the map screen includes three shortcut buttons in the top-right corner (quick options, GPS information and battery information). These are handy features, but they require you to tap right in the corner of the display, which is hardly ideal while driving.
Searching for an address is a relatively straightforward process, available by pressing the navigate option in the main menu. From here, you are presented with two options — three-step wizard or quick step. Three-step wizard is a regular suburb, street and house number entry, while quick step allows you to enter just the first three words of the suburb and street name to save time. Laser also provides POI (points of interest), waypoint, favourites and recent search options and you can choose QWERTY or ABC layouts for the keyboard. Typing is frustrating as there is keystroke lag when attempting to input an address quickly.
The Laser Navig8r G43’s map screen is clear and straightforward; it has a similar look and feel to an Australian UBD street directory. Streets are clearly labelled and text-to-speech instructions have a distinctly Australian feel — pronunciation of street names is for the most part excellent, with Australian names such as “Parramatta” spoken correctly. Unfortunately, the Laser Navig8r G43’s speaker lacks clarity and isn’t loud enough, even at its maximum volume. The lack of external volume controls is also annoying; you have to navigate into the settings menu to adjust volume.
The Laser Navig8r G43 has red light and speed camera warnings out of the box, but speed alert warnings only come as part of a free 30-day trial. SpeedAlert is available for an extra $9.95 — this added extra can warn when you are over the speed limit and when speed limits change along your route. The Laser Navig8r G43’s speed and camera alerts are annoying high-pitched sounds though they do the job.
Two features exclusive to Laser include advanced turn assist (ATA) and free map updates. Advanced turn assist displays a large arrow of the direction of your next turn in addition to a map snapshot of the turn as it approaches. This enables you to be prepared in advance for the next turn. Laser also promises “lifetime” free map updates — these only include the areas covered by the map you get with the unit at the time of purchase, however. For the latest maps with newly added suburbs, the upgrade fee is $59. These paid updates are available every three months, but you should only require them once a year.
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