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MacFixer, the iPhone, iPod, and iPad specialists

Navman 3400 European Trip

Date 31st March 2003

 Article by Graham Powell

  

The opportunity arose at the turn of the year to undertake a journey through Western Europe starting in the middle of England and going on via the channel tunnel down through France and Spain to the southern coast.  I also wanted to use the Navman 3400 to show me the way.

The Navman 3400 upgrade arrived just in time for me to load it prior to the journey and I simultaneously upgraded my compact flash memory to 256Mb to cater for the increased mapping required.

We had booked into a small B&B near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel and the first objective was to find that.  An address search failed and so I resorted to using a Multimap postcode search on the Internet to find the location.  Armed with that information I was able, within about 5 minutes, to locate the map area on Navman and set my destination. Straight to it without any difficulty – and it was at the end of a single-track lane.

The standard POIs include the Channel Tunnel Entrance and so it was easy to set that destination, no problems.


I had understood, from somewhere, that on arrival in a new country there is a waiting period while the GPS seeks a new fix. I am pleased to say that I got a fix within 20 seconds of driving off the train and set the location as a Favourite to help with the return journey.

We wanted to take a slightly circuitous journey through France and so it was not possible to set an end destination and plough off in a straight line.  We equally did not wish to go to the centre of each major waypoint and so we had to devise a way of travelling directly from A to B to C while taking advantage of ring roads where appropriate. We achieved this by setting the next way point (B) as the destination and then when

we were within say, 10 to 15 Km away we changed the destination to the following way point (C).  This guided us around the intermediate point.  We followed this principle for 3 days as we travelled from Calais to St Jean de Luz and with the exception of missing a turn in Rouen it was perfect.  Even the missed turn presented no problem as Navman rerouted me back onto the correct road.

The standard of mapping through France was excellent.  Not quite the same story in Spain.

 


The transfer into Spain was seamless and we headed off in a direct route down the E5 towards Burgos, Madrid and the South of Spain.  This presented the only major difficulty of the journey.  The E5 is a major dual carriageway and occasionally, for quite long periods, the two carriageways can be some distance apart. Navman, for quite long periods, showed us as travelling off road.  The impression I got was that only one carriageway was shown on the map and it was not the one we were on.  The message “Go to nearest road” was displayed.  This may sound more of an irritation than a major problem the exception though is when a side road runs close enough for Navman to think it’s the road we were on.  Navman then reroutes using that side road and all sorts of silly things happen.  I know it’s been mentioned before but there should be some form of software “lock on to nearest road” option.

With the exception of this problem there were no other occasions while we were in Spain that the mapping detail proved inadequate in fact we were pleasantly surprised, as we had understood the mapping to be inferior.

Positives

  • Morning fixes, refixing after tunnels etc. were all OK. We used to put the unit in the car about 5 minutes before we wanted to depart and a) it was not stolen! b) it was always ready to go when we set off.

  • The routing was excellent. Did it always take the best route? I have no idea but it always took me to the destination.

  • When we digressed off into a town or village and wanted to get back to the main road the rerouting was constantly putting us back onto the original route. This is one of the great benefits of GPS navigation systems.

  • Country borders were seamless.

  • The mapping detail was excellent

Negatives

  • It’s really an IPAQ issue but the voice commands would be better if they were louder.

  • We would have liked to have the option of locking onto a particular level of zoom.

  • It would be useful to understand how the map searches work on the non-UK maps. Entering French or Spanish street names produced poor results.

  • No postcode search facility
     

Overall Impression

Personally I think the Navman 3400 is an excellent product and I would recommend it to anyone.  The negatives that I encountered made little difference to the overall usability of the product and I had the added bonus of being able to manage my e-mail and other tasks on the same piece of hardware. When we stopped travelling a change of expansion pack gave me the CD collection. What else matches it for versatility.

Click above to read review

Click above to read review

 

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