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.
Road Angel Navigator 3000
- Improved interface, maps, fixed speed camera warnings, price
- Sluggish loading times, minimal included accessories, doesn't charge via USB, maps stored on SD card, battery life
Despite being an entry level unit and commanding a very reasonable price tag, the Navigator 3000 falls short in a few areas.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
The Road Angel Navigator 3000 is an entry level GPS unit that doesn't quite satisfy as much as their previous models. While it still offers fixed speed safety camera warnings and comes at a reasonable asking price, the Navigator 3000 doesn't use the full Road Sense safety package that Road Angel is famous for.
The Navigator 3000 has improved on the Navigator 7000 by redesigning the interface to become more user friendly. Where the previous model had some icons with no descriptions, the Navigator 3000's menu is easy to navigate thanks to a well laid out and descriptive interface. Unfortunately, menu loading times are still sluggish.
The unit filters suburbs by state so users don't needlessly get a full list of suburbs in Australia. Street names are then filtered by suburb, reducing the list of streets during searching to a manageable number. The Navigator 3000 allows navigation directly to a house number, intersection or even to the middle of a street. Addresses are entered using on-screen keyboard, but the keys are a little too small. The main navigational menu encompasses many large boxes with text and coloured icons. There are icons for address, POI (point of interest) search, recent, favourites and settings. The address button allows you to navigate to a specific address, while the POI button offers access to a host of POI's, like airports, shopping centres, parking stations, hospitals and cafes.
Like almost every other GPS unit on the Australian market, the Navigator 3000 uses the popular SiRF Star III GPS chipset. The unit takes less than a minute to establish and maintain a GPS signal, and we were impressed with speedy re-routing times, usually only taking a couple of seconds.
Voice commands were fine although annoyingly, there is no audio sample of the voices, so you have no way of knowing what they sound like till you use them. A convenient volume control dial is located on the right hand side of the unit, but it doesn't protrude enough from the casing, and is therefore difficult to quickly adjust while driving. Despite this, we found the audio prompts to be easily understandable. The next turn instructions are displayed on the left side of the screen with other information below them. The map colour scheme is also clear (day and night modes are available), with the route displayed and your current position easily visible on the map.
The Navigator 3000 is the first Road Angel unit to use NAVTEQ maps. They are simple and easy to read and can be zoomed in and out of easily using the large "+" and "-" controls on the right side of the 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). The maps aren't preloaded onto the unit; instead they are included on an SD card, which slots into the left side of the Navigator.
What is missing from the unit is Road Angel's Road Sense safety package, which was one of the key selling points of previous units. Including a wide array of safety features such as accident black spots, school zones, bus lane cameras and red light cameras, this subscription based service turned your GPS unit into a fully blown safety alarm system. Why they haven't even included it as an option here is beyond us.
The Navigator 3000 is one of the more compact GPS units on the market, measuring just 95mm x 75mm x 22mm. Unlike the Navigator 7000, the 3000 doesn't feel as sturdy; the dull grey and black plastic doesn't feel too strong, so we'd advise to take real care when moving the unit around.
Unfortunately, the 3000's 3.5in LCD has a poor viewing angle and is easily susceptible to sunlight glare, despite being listed as an "anti-glare TFT-LCD QVGA display" in the technical specifications. On a bright day, we struggled to see the screen and this can become a real issue when driving for long periods.
The design is simple and basic. There is an SD card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack and a mini-USB port on the left, and a DC input, off/on switch, volume slider, and antenna socket on the right. Also included is a stylus, which may be useful for entering an address before you step into your vehicle.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Navigator 3000 is the lack of basic accessories. Despite being an entry level unit, no AC adapter is provided. This is further compounded by the fact that the unit doesn't charge by USB, so the only way to charge is via the included in-car charger. A window mount and USB cable are the only included accessories.
The Navigator 3000 doubles as a multimedia player. It is compatible with MP3, MP4 Video, JPEG and e-book files, but these features are naturally quite basic. The biggest issue is storage; with only 64MB of internal memory, and the maps stored on the included SD card, you'll need to store your multimedia on another SD card. This means you won't have access to navigation unless you swap the SD cards over.
Battery life is another let-down, averaging just three to four hours according to Road Angel. Previous models had a quoted battery life of up to 10 hours, so to cut this by half is disappointing, despite market position and price. We experienced just over three hours of use before the battery died, but strangely received no warning of a low battery before hand.
Road Angel also includes a bonus 90 day online trial of myDrive, Australia's first website to offer real-time national traffic, road safety, news, sports and weather.
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