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Although Navman is one of the oldest brands in personal navigation, we've been more impressed by the value of its products such as the S30 3D than the quality of its new technical developments, particularly the Spirit interface. Since Navman has been subsumed into a model range under parent company Mio's branding, however, its products have taken a more positive direction. Spirit has improved in premium devices such as the S300, whilst the new M400 on test here tackles the more budget-conscious end of the market with considerable promise.
Despite its £100 street price, the M400 is actually a 4.3in widescreen device which comes with European maps for 23 countries. However, the M400 doesn't use the Spirit interface. Instead, it incorporates a development of Navman's SmartST, which we haven't seen since the S30 3D, but has a long history dating back to Navman's original PDA jackets. The general look and feel of the software is virtually the same as before, albeit with slightly redesigned icons, but there are a couple of useful new feature additions gleaned from Spirit.
The most beneficial of these is a version of the keyword search. This isn't a global option, which is one of the best facilities found in Spirit, but is available when searching for an address by street name or through the Points of Interest database. You can look for a street name across an entire country, and a POI in a specific city or nearby your current location. You can also search an entire country's POI database using the POI Name option. However, here Mio could have made it more obvious that keying in letters narrows the search, rather than just leaving the keyboard onscreen and leaving you to make the connection yourself.
For rapid access to frequently-used POI categories, there are specific icons in the main menu to locate parking, petrol, restaurants, medical facilities, tourist attractions and ATMs in your vicinity. These only function when the M400 has a GPS lock, and you can't change the categories available, unlike Navigon's similar implementation. However, you can select which POI categories are visible on the map screen, although choosing too many slows down updates considerably.
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