Hema Navigator 5" Review

Saturday, Jan 23, 2010 at 08:36

Sand Man (SA)

Out of the box the Hema Navigator is ready to use without any pre-configuration required.
The 5” (diagonal) screen is a good size for visual functionality but unobtrusive size for practical navigation purposes. The supplied windscreen mount is practical and also comes with a mounting disc for alternative use on surfaces such as dashboard or centre console where the disk can be adhered to such surfaces with the double sided backing tape.
The suction disk is then applied to either the windscreen glass or the mounting disk with a positive locking lever to enable greater suction.
All necessary interface cables and both 240 volt AC and 12 volt DC power packs are supplied, so no further investment in “accessories” should be necessary.
The Hema Navigator even has a nifty padded carrying case to store it in and protect it between uses in the vehicle.

For comparative purposes I will compare the functionality of the Hema Navigator with two current devices I own and have used for a considerable period of time.
I have a Dell Axim PDA which runs OziExplorerCE for 4WD (Country) navigation and CoPilot voice guided City (Street) navigation software.
I also have a Tomtom Go 720 device used as a stand alone voice guided City (Street) navigation tool.

On initial power up, the Hema Navigator takes approximately 8 seconds with no noticeable “affect” until the initial screen is displayed and another 20 seconds or so, for the application selection menu screen to show.
From here, you select either Route 66, (City navigation) OziExplorer, (4WD navigation) or Memory Map, (Topographical navigation) applications.
There is also a Battery Status symbol and a Spanner symbol which when selected, takes you to a Menu Screen for additional applications such as Bluetooth, Music Player, Calculator, Calendar, etc.

The first obvious restriction I noticed is that you can apparently only select one application at a time. Therefore, you cannot have multiple applications active at any one time, unlike my PDA, which uses Franson GPSGate software to create virtual GPS ports, enabling concurrent use of both OziExplorer and City Navigation software.
In my opinion, this is a significant restriction as the ability to access the City Navigation application (Route 66) without shutting down OziExplorer and thus losing your recorded progress of track data, etc.
With my PDA, you assign each application with a physical hardware button on the device and can start multiple applications and switch between each active and concurrent application with the assigned button without shutting down any other application running at the same time and therefore losing data or functionality.
This restriction may be significant for those who can only justify the one piece of hardware to invest in.


APPLICATIONS

OziExplorerCE
On initial and brief investigation of OziExplorer on the Hema Navigator, it is identical to the version I run on the Dell PDA.
The one big advantage (and the reason I invested in the Hema Navigator) is the larger size on the screen, making a visual glance clearer for those of us with “not so young” eyesight and a touch screen that is also easier.
Without going into any detail of OziExplorer Moving Map navigation, I will simply state that the Hema Navigator is a noticeable improvement on the smaller PDA size screen and much less intrusive to a larger laptop PC and the additional mounting and operating restrictions incurred.

In short the Hema Navigator 5” running OziExplorer, in conjunction with the Hema range of maps is the strong point of this device.


Route 66
This application is used for voice guided street navigation when negotiating major metropolitan areas and larger Country City and Towns. Like all “Street navigation” software, the further away from built up areas you are, the less detail that will be available.
I am familiar with both Tomtom Go and CoPilot Live Street Navigation applications and on initial use of Route 66, it would appear to be somewhat lacking in “user friendliness” when compared to the other two. My initial effort at entering a couple of “favourite” destinations was somewhat “clunky” compared to the intuitive prompting of both other products. Route 66 requires you to enter Suburb and Postcode, Street Name and Street Number, and then perform a search to allow the application to find your desired location. Any misinformation entered will return an unsuccessful search. Tomtom for instance displays a list of Streets for a given suburb to assist the selection of the right one, even if you are not sure of the correct spelling.

Perhaps I just need more time to become more familiar with this new application.
At this point in time, let me just say that Route 66 works and even though you may choose a slightly different route than what is calculated. After an initial “dummy spit” directing you to turn around or take the next turn, it will ultimately recalculate a new route based on where you are and display the revised route.
Although there doesn’t appear to be anywhere where you can modify the “warning before the next turn” instructions, I found that no modification is necessary. Route 66 will give you good verbal warning of distance to the next turn and works exceptionally well giving you ample time to change lanes or make other driving adjustments prior to the turn.


Memory Map
I haven’t yet had the chance to sample the functionality of TOPO NAV (Memory Map) and don’t yet understand where you would use it in preference to OziExplorer so I have no further comments on this application at this stage.


Other Tools
The functionality of Bluetooth operation, FM Radio, linking a Mobile Phone, or the support for a rear view camera has not yet been tested, so apart from mentioning these options, I require more time to experiment before offering any review of these features.


In Short.
The Hema Navigator 5” provides a good cross section of applications to enable the traveller to navigate successfully in both City and Country areas, giving an adequate sized visual display and good quality sound reproduction through the built-in speaker.
Although not exactly instantaneous in the initial start up and acquiring of satellite fixes, this process is straight forward and just requires a small amount of patience.
The inability to run multiple applications concurrently and the ability to swap between active applications is a surprising disappointment in what is otherwise a quality product and is perhaps a feature that needs to be explored for greater functionality in future product enhancements.
Bill


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!
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