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Navigon was one of the first sat-nav companies to include 3D landmarks on its satellite navigation maps. But it hasn't stopped there with its voyage into the third dimension. The new 7310 includes at least three different 3D systems, all packaged in a comprehensively featured widescreen sat-nav.
The 3D landmarks remain essentially unchanged from previous devices. These are realistic models of key famous buildings that pop up in all their three-dimensional glory as you drive. This is supposed to aid your spatial orientation, as you can theoretically use these to ensure you're headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, as we've experienced in the past, this isn't entirely true in practice for a couple of reasons. First, the model database is far from comprehensive. London and other major cities may be well stocked, but many other locations are bare.
Second, the models themselves often don't pop up until you're virtually on the doorstep. For example, the Houses of Parliament magically appear onscreen only when you reach the adjacent road. Considering how useful Big Ben is for getting your bearings in the city, this rather negates the utility of Navigon's 3D landmarks.
But the fully rendered models have been augmented by City View 3D. This covers much larger portions of major cities with blocks that roughly represent the overall shape of the buildings you will see. Since this is a more comprehensive set of models than the 3D landmarks, it's more generally useful. However, the 7310's screen updates are noticeably more sluggish in urban areas with City View 3D information. This didn't cause any problems during testing, but it shows the extra processing required for these widgets.
The last three-dimensional map addition is Panorama 3D. This does for country landscapes what City View 3D does for urban ones. Hills, bridges and tunnels are rendered realistically. However, we didn't find the UK particularly well covered, although the central European areas we explored in demo mode looked impressive. So, as with the other 3D technologies, Panorama 3D shows promise but isn't yet comprehensive enough to be essential.