- Review Price: £250.00
Evesham is one of the few PC manufacturers that were around in the eighties that is still going strong today. It’s achieved this by paying attention to what the market wants and offering the right products. In recent years it’s launched a spin off web site called Lowest on Web, offering a range of components and electronics to supplement its main PC business and sells many products under the Evesham brand, offering great value for money. Recently we looked at one of its TVs and found it to be surprisingly good. One of the most popular electronic devices these days are GPS units, so it’s no surprise the Evesham offers a number of its own brand GPS devices.
The device itself is covered in a plastic that has a sturdy, chunky feel to it. The device has the 3.5in, 320 x 240 resolution screen with buttons on the right. The device is essentially a PDA running Windows CE, which you’ll discover after receiving several Windows style error message dialogues. It’s a touch screen device but you can also choose to use the stylus that’s located at the bottom right. However, when the Nav-Cam is sitting in its cradle in the car you can’t get to the stylus.
The car cradle is simple and effective and it only takes a few moments to attach it to your windscreen.
Before you turn the device on you need to move the power switch that’s located underneath the unit. This can be done with the included stylus. Once this is done you can turn the Evesham on and off easily with the power button on the left.
Next to this is a small hole for the reset switch for the inevitable lock-ups. On the right hand side you’ll find the power socket for the supplied wall charger and above this a mini USB connector. This is used for both connecting the device to a PC and for charging it in the car, as the supplied in-car charger uses this connection rather than the main power socket.
At the rear you’ll find a fold-out aerial, though you don’t need to extend it to get reception. On the top side you’ll find a SD card slot, into which you’ll place the supplied 256MB SD card, containing AA Navigation software with maps of UK and Ireland included. This leaves 142MB of space for photos and music, both of which the Nav-Cam can handle.
These functions are accessible from the initial screen that you see when you turn on the device but I’m not convinced why anybody would want these things in a GPS device. You can’t access either function while the navigation software is running – though that’s hardly surprising and the dull, low-res, slightly grainy screen, with only 64,000 colours, is hardly the best way of showing off your favourite pics. It also makes for a rather bulky MP3 player. These functions are always offered by Windows CE based GPS devices seemingly only for the reason that they can do it – which doesn’t mean that they should.
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.
The Nav-Cam will alert you to all types of speed cameras. It does this quite effectively though it does take over the screen with the alerts. A six month subscription is included but after that you need to pay a subscription fee. As you’re driving you’re directed by a rather harsh sounding female voice. It’s clear and reasonably loud, though it won’t compete with a loud stereo.
At the bottom of the screen you’ll find an icon with three cars on it. This is the Traffic Message Control (TMC) function. This is an FM receiver that picks up traffic news braodcast from radio stations. This information is integrated into the route planning to automatically reroute you round traffic. The licence to receive this information is free with the device. When I was driving on the M25 it claimed that it had picked up 85 incidents but none were on route so it didn’t redirect me.
It sounds marvellous but in practice you need to be driving through an area that can pick up the TMC signals. Also, to pick up the signals you need to connect the supplied aerial, which has to be attached to the windscreen by two sucker pads. This plugs into battery pack, which contains the TMC reviewer. It means having a spaghetti junction of wires in your car. It’s ugly and inelegant and you won’t want it.
Other bugbears are the home button on the right. This looks like it will take you back to a default navigation screen but in fact it dumps you out of the navigations software and takes you back to the start-up screen with the pointless MP3 player and photo viewer. Beneath this is a button that when pressed sets your current location as a home location so that you can navigate direct to home with a press on one button, which is admittedly handy.
Overall, I have to say that I really didn’t enjoy using the Nav-Cam. It’s a solid looking piece of hardware but the interface is somehow more confusing that it initially looks, it’s slow and to use the TMC function you need to have wires trailing all over your car. If you want an affordable GPS device then you’d be far better served by a TomTom One. You may have to pay extra for the camera alerts, but it’s a cheaper device to start with and one that’s far superior to use use.
Score in detail
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