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Navman 3400 In-depth Review

9th October 2002

 Review by Dave Burrows

 http://www.navman-mobile.com

  

Introduction

Navman were the first GPS company to create an expansion sleeve for the Compaq iPAQ which shipped with SmartPath Trips and City.  Although Navman haven't updated the GPS 3000 sleeve, a new software product has been written by Navman and this is called SmartST Professional (pronounced Smart Street Pro).

 

Any Navman users out there that have resisted the urge and temptation to upgrade to TomTom Navigator or other GPS Software will really like the new features that Navman are offering.  The software is very much improved over the original offering.  The new GPS 3400 (Europe) was originally going to ship with European maps, however Navman have released the product now with UK maps and the European maps will be a free upgrade by the end of October 2002 (just in time for Christmas!).

Software Features ?

  • Voice Navigation (select male or female voice)

  • Re-Routing using quickest or shortest journey

  • Door to Door routing (selecting house numbers)

  • Navigation screen for safety whilst driving shows next turn, speed, distance

  • GPS Status screen radically updated

  • Maps can be loaded in segments or in complete (93mb) for complete UK

  • Unlimited Favourites as standard

  • 20 most recent destination list

  • POI as standard

  • Route highlighting

  • Turn by Turn navigation

  • Plus many more features

 

 

 

 

Compaq iPAQ 3850 with

Navman GPS Sleeve

Hardware Features

The Navman 3400 (European) and the Navman 3420 (US) comes with a GPS Receiver sleeve that will fit any Compaq iPAQ 3600, 3700, 3800 and 3900 series iPAQ.

 

In the box you'll find a windscreen suction mount which attaches to the back of the Navman GPS Sleeve and will keep your Pocket PC and GPS Receiver from dropping from the windscreen.

 

So for all you readers out there hoping that there may be a better, faster, quicker GPS Sleeve, or stronger, larger suction cup, no significant modifications have been made to the existing hardware.

 

Installing the CD was fairly painless.  Navman suggest you uninstall previous GPS drivers, eject the iPAQ from the sleeve, and then perform a soft reset.  If you follow these instructions, you will get a straight forward install.

 

The first thing you need to do is install the SmartST Pro Software to Main Memory.  Once installed, you have to make sure you are on a PC that is connected to the internet to enable/activate your software.  You have to do this otherwise SmartST Pro will not run.  We tried the activation on several PC's, using several different firewalls, one a network firewall Cisco PIX, which allowed activation successfully, however using a PC with ADSL and a personal application firewall, resulted in failure, so we had to drop the firewall for the few minutes it took to activate the install.

 

Once activated you can then start installing the maps.  Currently the Navman GPS 3400 is only shipping with UK maps (as originally mentioned), which is a disappointment to many, however Navman took this decision to bring you the product now, rather than potentially let the release date slip again by another 1-2 months.  Personally I would prefer it now, rather than waiting, and I'm sure most of you will also agree.  When you here of a new product, you want it yesterday!   Navman's European maps are expected to be released as a free upgrade in late October and you should be contacted when these are available.

 

Installing the Maps

You have several options when installing the maps.  You can either install by sector, or install the complete maps.  This is now becoming a standard in GPS mapping software for the Pocket PC, and is welcomed that you can choose the complete maps and not have to worry about routing between map segments, or you can install a segment at the time if disk space is a major limitation on your Pocket PC.  The complete UK maps come in at 93.8mb in size which is 10mb over TomTom's Navigator UK maps, but much more condensed compared to PowerLOC Destinator's 230mb!

 

Most of the segments average around 20mb in size, some smaller, some larger, if space is restricted, or you don't run any SD or Compact Flash Card storage, then you may find installing individual map segments better than installing the complete maps.

 

 

 

 Install Screen

 

We experienced a few problems on a Compaq iPAQ 3630, the Navman SmartST Pro with complete UK maps (even though maps were on storage card), requires 10-12mb of memory to run successfully, as we had only a few other programs installed into main memory storage space, we struggled to find 10mb of ram to be made available to run SmartST Pro. 

 

In the end we managed at a squeeze to find 13mb of available memory by adjusting the memory applet control settings in START | SETTINGS | SYSTEM | MEMORY, however trying to load any other program (in our case-screen capture software to bring you some great screenshots) would cause SmartST Pro to close automatically.  You can run SmartST Pro quite happily on an iPAQ with 32mb RAM, however beware that you might be better selecting less maps to load, and installing any of your frequently used applications that are in main memory to a storage card. 

 

Also keeping your themes lean, and your My Documents directory clean will help aid in giving you more memory available.

 

Tutorial

Navman have chosen to do something special, although the manuals are on the CD, they've introduced a quick start guide / Tutorial when you start SmartST Pro.  This can be toggled on and off in the setup screen and gives you a head up of which hardware keys are mapped to which software features, and tells you how to tap and hold to bring up the context menu and also showing you the back and forward buttons.  This is a very good feature and helps you get up and running with SmartST Pro in the shortest time possible.  Come on, lets face it, everyone put up their hands who reads paper manuals ?  You only seem to read these when there's problems, so putting this on screen, does actually help and made us read it!

 

Time To First Fix Findings

Initial tests performed have shown an average TTFF of around 2 minutes when the receiver has been powered off for 8+ hours, which is what is suggested by Navman, however you will notice fixes as fast as 45 seconds from cold, we did notice a few fixes at around 25 seconds, but the average was around 2 minutes and sometimes as slow as 5 minutes.  The cold fix tests we've conducted were from power offs of 8 to 14 hours before re-powering on the iPAQ.  Although an official cold start isn't anywhere near this long, we choose to use the 8 hour and 14 hour as a cold fix as this is what most people will notice when they drive to the office, spend 8 hours there, then travel back, and also most people will then have a gap of 12-14 hours overnight before attempting another fix.  In all our tests we completed with the Navman and other GPS Receivers, the location from power off to power on has not changed except for may a foot difference.

 

GPS Status Screen

The GPS Status screen is nicely designed, and gives you 2D and 3D fix information.  Unfortunately the SmartST Pro software will currently only run on Navman GPS 3000/3400 Sleeves, so if you have multiple GPS Receivers and are thinking about running SmartST Pro with another GPS Receiver, forget this as there is no way to change the GPS Driver, or the COM Port it sits on. 

 

We have spoken with Navman UK, and although they will not divulge anything for press release, we believe that there will be a version available in the near future, and this correlates with what other french websites are showing as a universal version of SmartST Pro (European) for pre-order.  Thinking about it another way, it would be bad business for Navman to try and cut their users off by making them purchase their hardware.  Sales will dwindle if this were to happen, so watch this space.  I doubt that you'll see anything before the European release of the maps, but you never know!

 

SmartST Pro Menu's

When you press your left cursor pad key you'll be taken into the Main Menu.  This gives you all the usual features you would expect to see when allowing for features like POI, Re-Routing and Voice Navigation.

 

In the Main Menu you'll see other sub menu's available.  The Quick Nav menu will give you quick navigation options like Return Trip and recent Navigations that you can select.

 

Main Menu Screen

 

Quick Nav Screen

 

Destination Screen

 

The Destination menu will give you options where you can create a route to a specific address (including door to door routing) allowing you to end a house number which is something that TomTom Navigator lacks at present.  You can also specify to create a journey by selecting an area by intersection. 

 

There is also a Points of Interest Screen where you can specify a Point of Interest you want to navigate to which is a very handy feature.  

 

I've always wanted to drive to a hotel and have had to enter either the road, or address and plot to this, with SmartST Pro you can now use the extensive POI database to create your journey.

 

All of the Destination Menu's will ask you to put in the area, then road, then house.  In Area you can specify both Country or City/Town which is invaluable. 

 

Sometimes if the area is foreign to you, you may not know if it's a Town or City, or Country you are visiting, and SmartST Pro is smart enough to recognise either, which cuts down on your route plotting time!

 

SmartST Pro also have a Favourite screen which allows you to select your Quick Nav saves, and also any locations you've added as favourites.

 

Finally you will also find a volume screen where you can set the volume of your Pocket PC speaker.

Destination Intersection Screen

 

Points of Interest Screen

 

Favourite Screen

 

Volume Screen

 

 

SmartST Pro Setup Screen

When you enter into the Setup screen you will see a plethora of options that you can select. 

 

In the first screenshot you can change the display from a day to night display that makes reading it easier at night, you can change the colour scheme of the maps, and toggle the Tutorial on and off.

 

In the second screenshot you can turn Voice Navigation on and off, and select whether you want a UK male voice or UK female voice guiding you to your destination.  You can also change the distance units from Miles to Kilometers.

 

In the third screen, you can change your Routing Type by selecting the Quickest Time, and the Shortest Distance, and you can also tell it to Avoid Toll Roads (which will come in handy when the government start to introduce this in the UK), and Avoid urban Areas, which is good if you want to not take a motorway route, but likewise you don't want to be taken through town centres.  There is also an option for Automatic Re-Routing, and a Record Route option.

 

In the Fourth screen you'll see the POI (Points Of Interest) screen where you can toggle these on the maps, and manually select which POI data to see.

 

Maps

We've checked a couple of roads that have only been available in the last 8-12 months and these roads do show up under UK maps, so the maps do seem to be fairly up to date, however there have been comments already in our forums about some new roads not being on the maps.  Navman say they chose NavTech for their mapping company because they are currently considered the market leader in electronic mapping.  As with all maps, there will always be roads that aren't on the maps, however we weren't able to find any in the short period for the review.

 

The maps are very clear and precise, and all screens have a professional 3D style look and feel which adds to the prestige of the application. 

 

Getting used to road names is a little difficult if you've used GPS Street routing software as with most software the road names are written within the road which mean you have to be zoomed in to around 80% before you see a road name, however Navman have overcome this by putting a red dot on the road and coupled with the road name displayed in horizontal form.  Although it takes a while to get used to this, you can see why Navman/Navtech have chosen this path, if you compare maps from other GPS software you will see that most are lacking road names at wider coverage levels, where as SmartST Pro still shows most of the street names.  This is great if you are travelling along a dual carriageway or an A road and are looking for a side road.  Directional turns, speed, distance to next turn and road name and designation are pretty much standard across all GPS street mapping software now, and Navman have made sure that all of these have been included.

 

No matter what type of road junction you chuck at SmartST Pro, it handles it very well.  Take the bottom right screenshot.  Not exactly an easy junction to follow, but SmartST Pro got it right first time!

 

GPS Status Signal

Something that Navman have missed, which has disappointed us and that's a GPS signal icon.

 

Both on the general Navigation safety screen and the map screen, there is no detail regarding the satellite locks.  On one occasion I had lost GPS signal, and due to this the map decided not to update but I knew nothing of how many satellites I had a lock on, and whether or not these were fluctuating, and would re-fix shortly.

 

The only thing I could do was to go into the Main Menu, then the GPS Status menu to show me the main GPS Status screen. 

 

This really needs to be added to both Navigation and Map screens.  Even if it's only a number counter that shows how many satellites you have a lock on, this would be better than not knowing.

 

 

Quicker Acquisition ?

Navman have known that there have been problems with acquiring locks quickly on the Navman GPS 3000 sleeve and that newer receivers are obtaining satellite locks much quicker than what the Navman sleeve usually averages.  With this, Navman have taken time to complete extensive research into why this may be happening, and it has been found that due to the sleeve and the GPS Receiver in turn being close to the processor of the iPAQ, there is some electromagnetic interference from the processor on the PDA, which in-turn causes extended wait times when trying to receive data from the NMEA chip.

 

An easy way Navman could keep this interference to a minimum would be to make the loading of SmartST Pro quick, and not do any loading of detailed maps.  This then enables Navman to put the iPAQ into an idle state which reduces the electromagnetic interference from the processor allowing the GPS Receiver to increase it's performance.

 

This has meant that the average time that most people have seen of around 3-5 minutes has now dropped to 2-3 minutes in our tests when using SmartST Pro, which is a welcome for anyone using this combination of hardware and software.

 

Routing Problems

The routing on SmartST Pro is pretty good, but does have a few minor issues.  The routing most of the time, especially on long journeys along single and dual-carriageways and motorways are okay, but some in town routing could be a little better.

 

You'll see SmartST Pro sometimes doesn't exactly take you the direct route, and seems to take you off onto a side road to get you to where you want to go.  This isn't a major issue, providing you arrive at your destination, which in every test we carried out, we arrived safely and with time to spare, but a more direct route would be preferable.

 

Voice Navigation

Navman have added Voice Navigation to SmartST Pro, and this is a welcome feature.  However comparing this to PowerLOC's Destinator and TomTom's Navigator, we did find that the way the words had been crafted, there were gaps at the beginning and end of each word, which when strung together made both the male and female voice sound as though it wasn't being read as a proper sentence.  Although the gaps on most of the spoken words seem to be only perhaps a couple of milliseconds, it was enough to notice the voice navigation was glueing words together.  One other problem we notice with the voice navigation is although it's more than adequate from a decibel level when driving normal roads, when driving motorways, and having background noise from the tyres on the car, and also having other distractive noises like a radio on, and air conditioning, or even a window open slightly, this seemed to drown out the voice navigation.  It would be good to see the sound files increased by about 10-15% in volume, which you could usually do yourself if they were WAV files, but Navman have integrated them into a data file, so attempting this yourself would be difficult.  We found the Voice Navigation to be a little quieter when compared to TomTom Navigator.

 

Navigation Safety Screen

The Navigation Safety screen, really does look sexy!  It's been well designed with a 3D look and feel, and gives you all the information you would need on following a route.  It gives you the next turn you need to take, and tells you in how many miles this will be, and also shows below this which road you are currently on.

 

Coupled with your current speed, and time, it will also show you an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), which is very much welcomed. 

 

The amount of times I have thought I would be late for a meeting, but I've been trying to work out the distance and time according to my watch.  SmartST Pro does all the calculation for you on screen, so if it looks like you are going to be running late for that important client meeting, you can phone ahead and let them know!

 

Software Bugs ?

We've found a bug, which is something that others have also  commented on, and has been designated as the blue bug.

 

What happens is there is a bug in the polygon drawing that sometimes causes the landscape behind the roads to go from a grey city or green country land to a blue sea.  You can sometimes see it drawing the blue, and other times, the screen just refreshes with blue. 

This can give the effect of driving through a town which is surrounded by sea, and is quite disconcerting when you first see it.  Navman are aware of this bug, and there has been a fix made available which is currently being tested internally at Navman. 

When we asked if this would require a complete map update, or just a small downloadable update, we were told that this can be fixed without having to re-release a complete maps CD, and although a fix has been created and is in testing, it is unlikely that it will appear on the European CD as Navman want to try and not add to many other potential problems to the release of the European CD, so expect an update shortly after the European CD has been released.

 

Hardware Bugs ?

It must be said that since the release of the original Navman 3000 sleeve, Navman have always said that although IBM MicroDrives do work in their sleeves, there are known isolated issues and that some may work and some not, so as a company policy they cannot support the use of IBM MicroDrives in their sleeves due to the power drain of spinning up a mini hard drive.

 

Most of us have been running IBM MicroDrive's quite happily with the Navman 3000 sleeve, and it's something we've just accepted, however in testing we had major problems getting SmartST Pro working on an iPAQ 3850 on battery power.  The problem was that 90% of the time the UTC clock at the bottom right of the screen would not increase.  Before it acquires a fix, it should start at 00:00 and start counting in increments of 2 seconds.  We found that this would just sit at 00:00.  After speaking with John at Navman, we tried using SmartST Pro without MicroDrives, and this seemed to cure the problem.  We have been able to successfully use MicroDrives on an iPAQ 3630 we tested, but the power requirements between the two seem to differ substantially to cause a problem with SmartST Pro.  So unfortunately any of you that are running MicroDrives, may notice this problem, and if you do, you'll either have to switch to an MMC/SD card/Compact Flash Card, or make sure you give it power from your accessory socket before running up SmartST Pro.

 

Technical Specifications

 

Antenna Type

Quadrifiler helix (multi-directional)

Satellite Measure Used 12-channel parallel, automatic selection
Memory Card Type I & II Compact Flash cards
  Time to First Fix (TTFF)
Hot Start 18 Seconds (typical)
Warm Start 48 Seconds (typical)
Cold Start 120 Seconds (typical)
Re-acquisition Time 25 Seconds (typical)
Accuracy of Position Fix Horizontal: 5.0 metres, typical (95% probable)
Interface iPAQ Option Pack Interface
Update Rate Initial, every second. Typically every 2 seconds once fix established
Output Message NMEA 0183 Ver: 2.20, GPGGA, GPGSA, GPRMC, and GPGSV.
Power 3.3V DC from the iPAQ’s internal Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery
External Power 12.0V DC in-car adaptor
iPAQ Battery Life 1.5 - 2.2 hours when typically running with full backlight and GPS enabled

 

PC Requirements

iPAQ Requirements

IBM Compatible 486 or higher

iPAQ H3600, H3700 or H3800 series

Dual Speed CD Rom or higher

800Kb for application software

MS Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or XP

Typically 12Mb free for map data
For H3600 series units: Pocket PC ROM build 1.77 or higher
For H3700 & H3800 series units: Pocket PC 2002, all ROM builds

 

Overall Comments
It would have been nice to see some hardware improvements to the sleeve, whether it was reducing the size of the sleeve, or the antenna.  Or perhaps keeping it at the same size, but adding in another backup battery to give you prolonged battery power for your iPAQ and GPS Receiver, however none of these changes have been made.

 

From a Software perspective, SmartST Pro is a very nice piece of software, it's as the name says, Smart and Professional, and graphically it's well designed.  Putting it along side TomTom Navigator shows most of the same features which you look for, for instance Favourites, Points of Interests, zooming in and out of maps, and voice navigation.  The software is easy to use, and great thought has been put into large buttons, the only thing we would add is that it would be nice on the GPS Status screen to have a touch anywhere to close, rather than having to tap the top right cross/ok button.  When your driving in the car, if you wanted to switch to this screen, it's very difficult to press precisely in a small area like this, and this is a welcome feature TomTom have added to their latest GPS Support update.

 

Another feature which is definitely lacking is an exit button.  You can get to one via entering the Navigation screen, then going back to map, and the exit will be displayed, but either a hot key, or a permanent exit button would be welcomed.

 

The software could also be made to use less RAM, as it does seem to be a bit of a memory hog, however you shouldn't really be trying to run several applications at once whilst navigating and driving.

 

Conclusion

Manufacturers Website

http://www.navman-mobile.com

Pocket GPS Reviewer

Dave Burrows

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website

Dave Burrows.com

Rating

 

Durability

Windscreen Suction Mount Strength

Air Vent Mount Strength

not supplied

Car Power Cable Quality

Ability to plot route and follow

Voice Navigation Quality

Re-routing Quality

Map Detail

Overall Rating 84%

How did we achieve these ratings ?

Review Ratings

 

Comments ?

Have any comments about this review ?  Post them here.

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