When you launch the AA Navigation application the first thing that you are confronted by is a legal disclaimer telling you to be careful about operating the device while you’re driving. That’s fair enough the first time, but it does get tiresome to see it each time. The initial impression of the layout was positive with neatly laid out icons. From this screen you can plan a route or go into set up. You can choose destinations from a list of Favourites, a Recent Destination list, or just enter an address or postcodes. Full 7-digit postcodes are supported. However, the layout of the letters is a bit odd. As you type it makes suggestions and you click this when it’s right. However, it doesn’t put the letters and numbers on the same screen, making typing in a postcode take longer.
There’s a Points of Interest (POI) database present too and this found the items I searched for. The first thing I did was choose the Follow Map icon, which gives you the basic map view.
The first problem I had though was that it took an absolute age to get a live GPS signal locked on the first time. As a result I had to stare at a ‘NO GPS’ icon for an extended time – click that and you get a Waiting for Fix' message. With all GPS devices it does tend to take longer the first time to pick up the necessary amount of satellites but never the 25 minutes it took for the Nav-Cam. Why this was I couldn’t be sure, as I had a good view of the sky.
Once established I found many issues. I found the map graphics to be the least satisfying of any GPS device I’ve yet tested. There’s was a lack of contrast with the pale background and the surrounding roads and the roads appeared too thin. I also wondered about the accuracy of the chip inside as many times the icon representing my location would drift off a road for no apparent reason, which is quite disconcerting and can be confusing.
In the top left and right corner you’ll find plus and minus icons for zooming in and out. Rather than putting information in a bar at the bottom or side, relevant data is placed in boxes found the edges of the screen. The information displayed here can be customised and by clicking onto one of these buttons you can then choose from a list of choices of what you want displayed. However, the boxes can only fit a few characters on so you end up with lots of information cropped off, such as longer road names.
If you click on the map then you get a number of ‘Drive Options’, such as viewing in night colours, a 2D display, And an alternate feature, which will direct you round traffic or even named roads on the roads.
An issue I found with the interface is that it’s hard to know how to find the menus you’re looking for. In fact, once you have the map view up you have to press Stop Drive to be able to go back to the route planning menu.
Once you have planned your route the screen displays a full size image as it plans the route. Unfortunately, the Nav-Cam seemed to take longer than with other devices. In combination with the slow GPS fix time, it makes for a frustrating experience. There’s a browse mode for a map on the device too and this is also very slow. It seems that the 266MHz Samsung S3C2410A processor just isn’t fast enough. However, it doesn’t seem to make up for it with a long battery life as if it wasn’t plugged it asks for more power in a couple of hours.