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Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10 Review

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £349.99

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Personal navigation started off as an add-on for a PDA, but it was only when the standalone versions began to offer a more dependable experience that the idea took off with mainstream consumers. So it’s perhaps surprising to see that attention seems to be veering back in the opposite direction, although this time towards smartphones. You can even get Google Maps Navigation for free on an Android phone. For those who don’t want to compromise on capabilities and stability, however, Garmin has partnered with Asus to create a more deliberate blend of smartphone and standalone, called the nuvifone M10.


The M10 is based on Windows Mobile 6.5.3, and looks at first glance like a relatively standard touchscreen smartphone. It’s neither tubby nor super-slim, and has a 5-megapixel camera on the back but no flash. However, the sat-nav abilities become evident right from the home screen. Beneath the grid of nine app icons, two of the three static icons provide access to sat-nav functions. Strangely, the other one is the Call button, which takes you to the regular phone features, but there’s already a permanent button for this beneath the touchscreen, so it seems rather superfluous.


The first sat-nav button is called Search, and leads to a familiar array of destination-finding options. You can look up an address by postcode or by drilling down from city to street and house number. But it’s also possible to search for keywords across all towns in your currently chosen country. Alternatively, there’s a traditional Points of Interest (POI) database, which is divided into categories and can be used to search near your current location, your current road, your destination if you have a route set, or any town or point on the map. Like the address database, you can search by keyword as well as across all the aforementioned locations, but not an entire country.


If the regular POI database doesn’t have what you’re after, Google Local Search is also available. Results do extend across an entire country in this case, and are listed in order of relevance rather than just closeness. You will of course need an active mobile data connection or Wi-Fi to use Google Local Search. Another mobile data-enabled Search option is the link to the Panoramio photo-sharing website, which lists photos by proximity to your current location. It’s not something you would use that often, but could be fun. A more prosaic smartphone-enabled facility is the connection to the phone’s stored contacts, which can be searched for a destination. You can save any destinations you find as the Home location or to the list of Favourites. But even if you don’t, you’ll discover them in the Recent Finds section.

The View Map option calls up a familiar Garmin navigation screen. This works just as well in portrait or landscape mode. However, the windscreen cradle Garmin provides in the box is best suited to landscape mode. The route is shown in the main map area, with the next turning described at the top. Information about your journey is illustrated at the bottom, such as current speed and estimated time of arrival. If you touch one of these, you’re taken to Garmin’s trip meter, which provides even more detail about your journey, such as total distance and average speed – useful for anyone who has to claim for car usage. There’s also an icon to enable onscreen traffic within the map, which lets you browse a list of current incidents as well.


There’s also a Connected Services section, which includes four options. This provides another route to browsing the list of traffic notifications, which are TMC-based but delivered via mobile data rather than the RDS portion of the FM radio signal. You can select a specific notification for further information. The Fuel Prices option presents a list of nearby petrol stations that can be sorted by proximity or cost for your chosen category of fuel. The Safety Camera option merely lets you download and activate speed camera locations for specific regions. Finally, the White Pages provide a searchable phone directory, but annoyingly only for the current vicinity – not another area of your choice.


You only get a 30-day trial of these Premium services, after which the cost is $49.99 per year. However, there are a few Live-enabled facilities that haven’t been included in the Connected Services section. Garmin’s Ciao! helps you exchange locations with your friends, so you can meet up with them in the right place. But they also need to have Garmin sat-nav devices with Live services and a Ciao! account, which rather limits the facility’s usefulness.

Buried in the main Windows Mobile app menu is the Flight Status widget. This lets you search for flight numbers and track their status. You can also browse local airports and set them as your destination, save them to your favourites, and even look up the weather in the vicinity. All very useful stuff, particularly if you drive a taxi on an airport run for a living.


When used as a sat-nav, the M10 performs as expected, with adequately quick screen updates and rerouting. The 3.5in display is noticeably smaller than a 4.3in widescreen, and can be hard to see in bright sunlight even if you turn the brightness right up. We also encountered instability on one occasion but generally the M10 performs as well as a standalone sat-nav device. When used as a smartphone, you’ll scarcely notice that this is a fully fledged personal navigation device as well. You can access email, read and contribute to Facebook, and perform all the usual tasks. In this respect, the M10 is a very standard Windows Mobile device, with no skinning or widgets beyond what we’ve already mentioned.

Verdict


At around £350 for a sat-nav with full Western European and some Eastern European maps, the Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10 isn’t cheap compared to a standalone device, even one with connected services such as Garmin’s nuvi 1690. However, it stacks up reasonably well compared to an Apple iPhone with a premium sat-nav app such as TomTom’s, or even a top-end Android handset running Google Maps Navigation. So, as smartphones go, the M10 is relatively run-of-the mill. But it’s decent value when the sat-nav abilities are taken into consideration, particularly the solid windscreen mount included in the box, and the navigation is well integrated, too.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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