Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Navman iCN 635
- Large 3.8' LCD, fast processor, 64MB onboard memory
- No touch screen, no internal battery, large
A large 3.8' screen and fast processor speed can't compensate for the bulky size and lack of both a touch screen and internal battery on the iCN 635. The hefty price tag also counts against this unit.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
While Navman has impressed us in the past with their GPS products, the Navman iCN 635 doesn't live up to the same standard, lacking an LCD touch screen, an internal battery and housed inside a bulky case.
GPS units designed solely for in car use, such as the Tom Tom Go 500 or the Garmin Streetpilot c320, can get away with being on the larger side, since they most likely won't ever leave the car and usually come with finger operated LCD touch screens. We therefore found the bulkiness of the iCN 635 rather surprising, since unit doesn't ship with such a touch screen.
According to Navman, the larger size of the New Zealand manufactured iCN 635 is due to the special magnesium alloy chassis, which is more durable under heat than the traditional plastic casings which house most GPS units. Navman have also taken advantage of the extra space with the iCN 635 sporting a 3.8" LCD rather than the usual 3.5" screen we have seen on most other models. This display was easily one of the best we have seen, and was viewable even in direct sunlight.
However the superior quality of the display did not compensate for the lack of a touch screen, and interacting with the unit is a matter of using the 8-way toggle and six other buttons to the right hand side of the screen. This is fine for simply navigating around menus and or scrolling the map, but we found more involved operations such as entering an address rather demanding. Thankfully, the iCN 635 ships with a remote control which does make life a little easier in terms of entering data and navigation, but in our opinion, the lack of a touch screen on this device is a real let down.
Entering a destination on the iCN635 involves pressing the Home button, using the toggle key to select the Destination option from the menu and then either selecting an address, POI or recent address location. (Locations can also be stored as Favorites). The unit then displays a QWERTY keyboard and users have to painstakingly select letters using the 8-way toggle button, which is hardly the most usable implementation we have seen. Luckily, users will most likely have to only type the first few letters of the destination, as the 635 quickly displays matches from the keyboard input. One aspect of the search on the iCN 635 we wish more GPS units used was the helpful way in which the algorithm only displayed streets for the suburb you selected, reducing the time to search and the confusion.
The navigation features included on the iCN635 while fairly standard, are implemented well, using V3 of the SmartST software. Its mains strengths were satellite acquisition time which we found generally quick, and the speed of the unit itself, attributed to its Intel XScale Processor. The usual routing options such as avoiding an area, avoiding or prompting for tolls and navigating to multiple destinations are supported.
A route demonstrator is also included allowing you to preview the selected route before you drive it. We found the audio instructions on the unit louder than on most others, and this was handy in noisy traffic conditions. The voice tones can be changed to suit your tastes as can language, and on the whole we found the customization options on the unit rather comprehensive. While users can preset a speed limit warning, we do wish Navman had included individual speed or red light camera alerts depending on the current street.
The other factor we weren't particularly happy with was the lack of an internal battery, meaning the unit can't be switched on unless connected to a vehicle charger or AC power. Although this unit is designed for in car use, we would like the flexibility of being able to plan our trips without the need to always be connected to a power source. We found the omission of a battery somewhat surprising, especially given the large form factor and price of the unit.
Maps of Australia are provided on the included 128MB MMC card and notably, the iCN 635 has 64MB of onboard memory as well as an MMC slot for an additional memory card.
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