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Unless you've been living in a cave for the past 18 years you'll be aware that certain technological products - PCs and notebooks in particular - are built in a modular fashion from a range of widely available components, all connected together via standard interfaces.
But what you may not be aware of is how far the practice extends into other areas of the industry. Many other products are put together in just the same way, and aftermarket sat-navs, for instance, are a good example. Most run on the same Microsoft Windows CE Core 5.0 operating system; and most use one or other of the major mapping company's road databases - Navteq or TeleAtlas. Until recently, the software built on top of those common tools had remained the key differentiator, but now it appears that even this critical element is commonly being repurposed, rebadged and sold as original product.
Blaupunkt, more famous for its car stereos than navigation systems, has chosen this very route for its new TravelPilot Lucca 3.5 system; and it's the third product I've looked at for TrustedReviews over the past few months to use a very similar software front end. That's no bad thing. After all, the Panasonic Strada CN-GP50N employed the very same tactic to good effect this time last month. But you still have to put all the elements together, and Blaupunkt has made a bit of a pig's ear out of a silk purse with this one.
It looks pretty promising when you pull it out of the box. As you'd expect from a manufacturer famed for the quality of its products, the Lucca 3.5 is beautifully built and designed. Its gloss black and gunmetal finish wouldn't look out of place in the cockpit of a BMW M5 and setting it off is the trademark blue dot in the centre, below the screen - here backlit and doubling up as a power button.
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