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Navman S50 3D review



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When Navman and Mio merged earlier this year, and it was announced that products under the Mio brand would not be sold any longer in the UK market I was more than a little surprised. Though it never gained mass popularity in the UK in the way firms like TomTom and Garmin have, I've always had a soft spot for Mio products, especially its C620T, which I thought was a cracking sat-nav.

Since the merger it's been pretty quiet, though, with no new Navman/Mio products produced at all in the first half of the year. Now we finally have the first progeny of that relationship - with the Navman S50 3D - a budget sat-nav with regional mapping of Great Britain and Ireland.

If Navman and Mio were proud parents, however, I think that one would be getting a bit worried at this point, as externally the S50 bears very little resemblance to the Mio products of old. In fact it looks identical to the last Navman product I last looked at - the S30 back in October 2007 - with its black and silver livery and big rounded corners. Only the S50 3D's larger 4.3in screen (compared to 3.5in) sets it apart.

Fire it up and the theme continues. It runs Navman's SmartST 2008 navigation software and this bears no trace of Mio's influence either. Not that that's a bad thing - I always felt that Mio's software left a lot to be desired in the usability stakes despite a change for the better with the C620T. SmartST 2008, as on the S30, is extremely straightforward to use with large, easy to read icons on the menu and an uncluttered clear map view. I especially like the pop-up menus on the right that can be tapped to launch detailed information such as speed, ETA and distance, access map browse tools, or change views.

So is there any sign of Mio's influence here at all? It's difficult to tell when the S50 is so similar to previous Navman devices, but that 3D name tag does at least hint at some Mio influence. Unfortunately this doesn't refer to the topographic mapping included in the last Mio product I reviewed, but instead to the addition of a selection of 3D models of famous landmarks. All it means is that, as you approach the London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral or Big Ben, a 3D graphic of looms on screen, just to reassure you that you're in the right place.

Exciting, huh? Well, not exactly. The trouble with this is that, 90 per cent of the time the facility is pretty useless - only major landmarks are in the database and outside central London the models are few and far between. Added to this is the fact that none of the models have labels attached to them - it would be nice to know what the buildings are as you drive by. 3D navigation sounds sexy, but in this instance it's about as far from being a groundbreaking navigation aid as Lands End is from John O' Groats.

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August 20, 2008, 10:47 pm

Sat-Nav units have a great secondary use as speed/safety camera warning systems. Probably the best speed/safety camera database is the PocketGPSWorld database which can be installed on most sat-nav systems. Unfortunately the maximum user installable point capacity of the Navman S series units like the S50 is less than the number of cameras in the database. So the database can be used, but not in it's entirety. Some camera types must be left out e.g. mobile cameras which is not a very satisfactory solution.


February 22, 2010, 12:17 am

i have one of these and would not recommend itfor the following;

1) out of date maps.

2) appalling routing - b and c roads at first chance, longest in time and distance routes.

3) battery life of 45mins - 3 hours quoted.

4) no support - not by email and they have a premium phone number.

on the plus the interface is not bad and it is quite accurate in its positiponing once you are there!

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