- Review Price: £189.99
Medion makes all kinds of electronics products, but you’re most likely to have come across the brand’s PCs and laptops, such as the Akoya E3211. The company also has a small range of sat-nav devices, although we haven’t looked at any since the GoPal E3410 in 2007. We weren’t entirely bowled over back then, but the market has moved on considerably since that time. So can the range-topping Medion GoPal P5235 prove more impressive?
The specs get things off to a good start, and at the top of the list is the screen size. With a 5in diagonal, this is a larger display than most widescreen sat-navs. There’s also full European mapping included, plus a receiver and subscription for RDS-TMC traffic updates. However, the device itself is hardly the most stylish piece of electronics you are likely to own. The rectangular boxy lines are far from attractive, and although the combination of glossy black plastic and brushed metal is a classic look, the fit and finish isn’t perfect.
We’re also not convinced by the screen mounting system. Medion offers a mount with all the connections built in, so you can leave these hooked up and just slide the device in when you’re ready to go. Unfortunately, this is an optional extra and the mount supplied in the box is far more rough and ready. Not only do you have to hook up the mini-USB-based power connection and RDS-TMC aerial minijack separately, but you also have to thread the cables through a hole in the mount first. Not exactly elegant.
However, the edges of the P5235 are brimming with features. A large, convenient power button on the top brings the device in and out of hibernation, whilst a small switch on the left side turns off the power entirely, and is unlikely to be tripped accidentally. Above this is a volume control. There’s an SD memory slot on the right, and along the bottom are the minijacks for RDS-TMC, headphones, mini-USB and the connector for the optional mount.
Most unusual is the fingerprint reader on the top, which can be used to provide security at various levels. Medion argues this will prevent theft, but we consider it highly unlikely a thief will even realise the sat-nav is fingerprint-secured until they are long gone with it in their swag bag. So this is a rather pointless feature, unless you really do feel the need to prevent others from using your satellite navigation device.
The P5235’s navigational software offers most of the features you would expect of device above the budget level, although the interface is a little different to most of the mainstream manufacturers. Along the top of the main menu can be found single-click links to the home location you set, your most recent destination, and a list of other recent destinations, which is very convenient. Beneath this lie the usual options for entering an address or searching for a Point of Interest.
We found the address database contained all our test locations, including villages listed as ‘near’ a major town by the postal service. You can also now search for a full seven-digit postcode – something which wasn’t available in the E3410 we tested a couple of years ago. However, you can’t specify a house number, so will be guided to the centre of the postcode in question. There is also no general keyword search for the address database, so you will need to know the correct city, town or village for your destination. But you can enter exact latitude and longitude coordinates as degrees or decimal notation.
The POI database is a little more flexible. We like the category interface, which arranges these two abreast so you don’t need to scroll through so many pages to find the one you’re after. You can also search the database within a given city, near your current location, along your route, or at the destination. But you can’t search the entire database, as you can now with Mio Navman’s Spirit software. The POI listings also include phone numbers for some locations.
There’s a route planner, so you can add specific waypoints to your itinerary. As we mentioned earlier, the P5235 has RDS-TMC traffic update reception built in, and the aerial is a separate wire rather than built into the car power adapter, so you can use this when the sat-nav is battery powered. We found the RDS-TMC updates displayed their usual intermittency, as with most other devices we have tested. So the traffic information available is useful, but not completely infallible.
The navigational map interface offers 2D and 3D options. Alternatively, you can display a full-screen illustration of the next turning, or a split screen combining this with the map. The 3D option shows a horizon with somewhat unrealistic distant hills, which is attractive but not necessarily that useful. A selection of handy information is ranged along the bottom panel, including current and maximum speed, expected arrival time, plus distance and time to destination. The current speed limit is displayed as an icon on the left.
There are even speed camera warnings and lane guidance, although both are somewhat limited compared to the best current implementations. Camera locations are marked on the road, but there is no intrusive pop-up or audible notification, so you could miss one. The lane guidance is displayed in a strip along the top of the interface, which is again less clear than the full-screen graphics with realistic road signs offered by the major brands, such as TomTom, Mio and Garmin.
Medion has also bundled a selection of extra apps with the P5235, although some are more useful than others. You may want to employ the MP3 playing facilities alongside the built-in FM Transmitter to pipe your music through your car stereo, but using your sat-nav as an image viewer has always seemed a little pointless. There’s also an alarm clock, and even a Sudoku game. We presume the latter is for when you find yourself stuck in stationary gridlock. Most useful is the Berlitz-powered Travel Guide, although it didn’t appear entirely complete. For example, the whole of Geneva was missing from the Switzerland listing. But we found the main attractions were included for most of the European cities we tried.
The Medion GoPal P5235 is not a slick, attractive device for the gadget lover. But it does do the job intended perfectly well. Best of all, you can currently buy it for £189.99 from the Medion shop, which is a very keen price for a 5in widescreen sat-nav with European maps and RDS-TMC traffic updates. However, Garmin’s nuvi 1490T provides mostly the same features and a more polished appearance for just a little more. So the Medion is great value, but the Garmin just edges it out of the best-value 5in sat-nav slot.
Score in detail
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