Laser Navig8r M35

Australian-centric GPS unit

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Laser Navig8r M35
  • Laser Navig8r M35
  • Laser Navig8r M35
  • Laser Navig8r M35
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Australian maps based on council land data, locally customised text-to-speech, Australian map styles, ease of use, safety camera alerts, quick step address entry, value for money

Cons

  • Bland design, display has poor viewing angles

Bottom Line

Laser’s Navig8r M35 is one of the best value for money GPS units we've come across. Don’t let its low price fool you: it is packed with features, including detailed mapping data and Australian-accented text-to-speech.

Would you buy this?

Claimed to employ Australia’s most accurate maps, Laser’s Navig8r M35 is the first locally developed GPS unit. The Navig8r M35's entry-level price point is certainly misleading considering its features: it boasts locally customised text-to-speech technology and 4GB of local council mapping data from around the country.

Aesthetically, the M35 is fairly run of the mill. There is nothing terribly wrong with the look and feel, but it doesn’t compare in finish or design to units from some of the more popular GPS brands such as TomTom, Navman and Garmin. A small status light to the right of the display indicates when the unit is being charged while a power button on top, SD card slot on the left and standard mini-USB port on the bottom round out the straightforward case design.

Laser claims the 3.5in touch screen is “anti-glare”, but direct sunlight still tends to make the screen difficult to read. This isn’t helped by poor horizontal and vertical viewing angles. Fortunately the touch screen is very responsive and you don’t have to press too hard to make a selection; typing on the on-screen keyboard can be a hit and miss affair, however.

The M35’s user interface is much like its physical design: it's plain but ultimately effective. The main menu of the map features three selection boxes ('view map', 'navigate to' and options) and all menus and boxes are fairly self-explanatory.

The M35 allows you to search points of interest, favourites and recent locations, in addition to searching by address. POIs can be found by locality, near your current location or by name. A very convenient addition to the address search is what Laser has dubbed 'quick step'. Instead of entering a city, a street name then a house number on separate screens, quick step allows you to enter the full address on one screen. You enter only the first three letters of the street and suburb and the M35 does the rest.

Once you've found your destination, you have the option of deciding on the quickest or shortest route and whether to enable toll roads and speed/red light camera alerts. While on your trip, you can choose to make a detour to navigate your way around a roadblock or traffic congestion.

The general navigational experience of the M35 is solid, and we were impressed with start-up times (generally around a minute). Rerouting times are also fairly speedy. A selling point of the M35 is the mapping data, which Laser claims shows the accurate outline of every land plot in Australia based on council land data. This detail applies to rural and city areas and is the reason why the map data is a total of 4GB; most other GPS units have around 1GB of data. Conveniently, Laser also offers a choice of recognisable Australian map styles including ones mirroring the UBD and Ausway street directories.

The M35 is also one of the first GPS units in Australia to offer a locally customised text-to-speech function, designed to help pronounce Aboriginal names with an Australian accent. The familiar voice is certainly a refreshing change from the monotonous American and British accents we’re used to. The lack of external volume controls is a slight annoyance; you have to navigate into the settings menu to adjust volume.

Red light cameras, fixed speed cameras and school zone alerts are all included. The M35 also offers a speedo, which measures speed and time, and a trip statistics page that displays figures such as average speed and distance travelled. The device has the ability to upload custom POIs using the Navig8r Web site. In addition to its navigational capabilities, the M35 also includes a multimedia player, eBook reader and photo viewer, with files playable from an SD card.

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