n35 PDA (SamsungS3C2410 266 MHz - 64 MB RAM - 32 MB ROM - 8.9 cm 3.5" Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD - 65536 Colors 16-bit - Windows Mobile 2003 Premium)

Summary

Our Score

6/10

Review Price free/subscription

At the top of the screen, the time to the next junction and an arrow indicating the direction of the turn-off is displayed and as you approach a junction an icon showing the direction of the next turn flashes up on the screen for a few seconds. At the bottom, the current road, ETA to destination and the latitude and longitude is displayed. However, it’s all on one line and the info has to switch between them. Preseting his all at once would be better. At the bottom right is a bar indicating the signal strength and pressing this brings up a 3D representation of the connections to the satellites.

There are options to have the software provide voice prompts when you’re over the speed limit, when recalculating a route and when the signal is poor and a ‘drive carefully’ when it first starts the route.

Destinator claims that its route calculation algorithms are smarter than competing software and I did see some evidence of that during testing. The software mapped a quicker route by mapping a few smart shortcuts compared to the TomTomGo which I had set up in the car at the same time. However, overall the TomTom Go provided a much smoother navigation experience. The Destinator software always called out the next step at 500 yards from the next junction, which was too soon. Approaching roundabouts it also gave the instruction to “Continue round the roundabout’, which doesn’t make sense when your 500 yards away.

The software also wanted me to talk a U-turn as I travelled down a road even though the route displayed was telling me to bear left.

The biggest overall issue I faced though was the fact that the hardware would often fail to find a GPS signal. Sometimes it found the signal quickly and at other times if wouldn’t find it at all, even after turning the PDA on and off several times. of course poor weather conditions make picking up a signal more difficult but the Acer’s performance was made to look poor by the TomTom Go that I had in the car at the same time, which always picked up a signal.

So would I buy the Acer N35? The fact is that the Acer couldn't come close to the speed and ease of use of the Tomtom Go, though after I while I was comfortable that I could rely on the Acer if I had to.

With Girotech selling the whole bundle for only £235 it certainly seems promising on the value for money front, as for that price you get A PDA, a GPS receiver and UK maps. However, you’ll have to really want to make that saving to be satisfied with what is essentially a below par PDA married to average navigation software.


Verdict

For the price the Acer promises much, offering a PDA with an integrated GPS receiver and UK maps for less than £250. However, the experience as a whole doesn’t come up to scratch on the navigation side or the PDA side of things, so it could well be false economy. Personally I’d still stick to dedicated units for each task but if you’re set on an all-in-one GPS PDA, the Mio 168 is a better option.

Scores In Detail

Value
7/10
Usability
6/10
Features
6/10

Our Score

6/10
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