- Review Price: £259.99
Motorola has been selling personal navigation devices (PNDs) in the US for a few years now, but it has only just launched a range in Europe. Called the Motonav, it aims to offer something a little different to the existing brands. Our first look is the top-of-the-range TN760t, and it marks itself out as soon as you remove it from the box.
The TN760t is a 5.1in widescreen device, but the display is actually being called ‘cinematic’, because it doesn’t have a conventional 16:9 aspect, instead opting for 2.39:1, more akin to LG’s Chocolate BL40 mobile phone. It also sports extra physical buttons on the left, right and top. Either side can be found a trio of paddles that operate a variety of functions. These include zooming the map in and out, calling up saved Favourite locations, controlling the volume, and muting sound, but customisation is possible too.
The Motonav can also be professionally installed in your car, which costs as little as £60 for some vehicles, but over £100 in others. This will connect it to your car’s speakers and hands-free microphones, which can then in turn be used with your mobile phone via Bluetooth. The device itself will still be portable, but the mount will be connected to the ISO wiring behind your car’s hi-fi system. Professional installation will also facilitate using the TN760t’s voice operation system, which enables you to enter addresses verbally, although you can still use this with the standalone device.
The interface also follows a different design strategy to most other sat-navs. Motorola has attempted to keep the map onscreen as much as possible. So a single touch doesn’t switch the entire screen to a menu. Instead, a panel in the middle invites you to Enter a Destination, whilst onscreen buttons ranged at the edges provide alternative options. These include rapid routing to a single Home location, operation of your Bluetooth paired mobile phone, and saved favourites. The latter can be arranged into user-specified folders. There’s also a full menu available containing the remaining functions and settings, and even this doesn’t entirely cover the map.
The Enter Destination interface combines both address and points of interest, and again is designed like no other sat-nav we’ve tested. First you specify a city or postcode, then you can type in an address or POI name. As you enter more letters, the pane on the right dynamically narrows down a list of possibilities, which blends both addresses and POIs. However, a secondary tab confines these results to just POIs, arranged by category. If you don’t enter any letters in the search field, however, POIs in your chosen city will be listed.
The unusual design is just one of the innovative aspects of the Motonav TN760t. The device also packs a selection of live-enabled services, but these don’t operate via a built-in mobile data link. Instead, a Bluetooth link to your mobile phone is used. Most surprisingly of all, the data is not delivered by 3G tethering, as this usually entails a hefty extra monthly premium, but via short voice calls. So virtually any Bluetooth-equipped mobile can be used, and any standard call plan, even one with no data component.
We found that our Motonav unit required a software update before its live services functioned, but after that it was happily grabbing information on demand. The calls themselves are to a national number and only a few seconds long, so won’t add much to your bill, if anything at all.
There are five live functions available, and the device comes with a three-month taster of the service. Unsurprisingly, one of these is Google Local Search, but Motorola has integrated this feature particularly adeptly with the Enter Destination interface. You type in a search address or POI, and if you don’t see what you want listed, a Google button at the bottom lets you search the extended internet-based database for the same keywords. It’s a particularly slick and user-friendly system.
The TN760t also offers live fuel prices, so you can find the cheapest petrol in your vicinity, not just the nearest. Weather updates are available. You can get a forecast for your current location, or create a list of favourites. Like Garmin’s 1690, you can also check the status of flights, and in this case all you need to know is the airline and flight number, or route. This will be a particularly handy feature if your job involves regular international travel, or you’re an airport cab driver.
The final live feature is the ability to send locations to the device via Google Maps. First you find your address, then click on the pin and select the Send option under More. The serial number of the Motonav will then be required. However, the location won’t automatically be pushed to the device, as it is with Garmin’s implementation of this feature. Instead, you have to use the Web Location option in the menu to download it on demand, after which it will appear in the Google Location folder within the Favourites. But this is still a handy way for someone at a desktop PC to provide a precise destination to another person who is out on the road.
So the TN760t’s live functions are all quite useful and well conceived. Once your three-month trial is over, however, you will need to pay £29.99 for a year’s subscription, or £79.99 for three years, to keep using them. Annoyingly, whilst the TN760t also includes RDS-TMC traffic updates, only a 90-day trial is included for this as well, with a lifetime subscription then setting you back £39.99.
In transit, the TN760t is a fairly standard sat-nav with a 3D perspective map view. You can take advantage of the extra width by popping out a pane on the left, which can be configured to display a top-down aerial view, turn-by-turn instructions, a list of waypoints, trip information, nearby waypoints as you travel, or a simple dashboard detailing current position and speed. The TN760t’s habit of beeping before every announcement is slightly irritating, but otherwise verbal and visual instructions are clear. There are also graphics detailing which lane to be in at complex motorway junctions, although these are not the realistic full-screen versions provided by some sat-navs. There are warnings of safety camera locations, but here again you must pay £29.99 a year to keep them up-to-date after the initial 90-day trial.
It’s great to see another competitor in the sat-nav market, especially one with the brand pedigree of Motorola. The Motonav TN760t is an innovative device with plenty of features to differentiate it from the competition. Unfortunately, the price is a bit of a divergence from the norm as well. At £259.99 for a sat-nav with just UK and Republic of Ireland mapping, it’s priced against other manufacturer’s European models. On top of this, its live services are not as extensive as TomTom or Garmin’s, even if the annual subscription is quite a bit less. So whilst the Motonav TN760t is a capable navigator, it’s not the best value on the market.
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