- Review Price: £277.90
Navigon was one of the first sat-nav companies to include 3D landmarks on its satellite navigation maps. But it hasn’t stopped there with its voyage into the third dimension. The new 7310 includes at least three different 3D systems, all packaged in a comprehensively featured widescreen sat-nav.
The 3D landmarks remain essentially unchanged from previous devices. These are realistic models of key famous buildings that pop up in all their three-dimensional glory as you drive. This is supposed to aid your spatial orientation, as you can theoretically use these to ensure you’re headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, as we’ve experienced in the past, this isn’t entirely true in practice for a couple of reasons. First, the model database is far from comprehensive. London and other major cities may be well stocked, but many other locations are bare.
Second, the models themselves often don’t pop up until you’re virtually on the doorstep. For example, the Houses of Parliament magically appear onscreen only when you reach the adjacent road. Considering how useful Big Ben is for getting your bearings in the city, this rather negates the utility of Navigon’s 3D landmarks.
But the fully rendered models have been augmented by City View 3D. This covers much larger portions of major cities with blocks that roughly represent the overall shape of the buildings you will see. Since this is a more comprehensive set of models than the 3D landmarks, it’s more generally useful. However, the 7310’s screen updates are noticeably more sluggish in urban areas with City View 3D information. This didn’t cause any problems during testing, but it shows the extra processing required for these widgets.
The last three-dimensional map addition is Panorama 3D. This does for country landscapes what City View 3D does for urban ones. Hills, bridges and tunnels are rendered realistically. However, we didn’t find the UK particularly well covered, although the central European areas we explored in demo mode looked impressive. So, as with the other 3D technologies, Panorama 3D shows promise but isn’t yet comprehensive enough to be essential.
The 7310 also includes Navigon’s voice activation system. This is a little more limited than the implementations of some other manufacturers, but still effective. A button on the initial screen calls up the system, giving you the opportunity to enter an address verbally by city, street and number. Since the range of possibilities is limited to existing addresses, this is quite an effective process, picking up every address we tried accurately, even with background car engine noise. In fact, the process is a little quicker than using the alphanumeric keyboard, particularly as it isn’t QWERTY. The only annoyance is that you have to wait for a beep after being verbally prompted for each stage of the address, which is counterintuitive.
The 7310 includes the latest Navigon features, which we first encountered in the 3310 max. Most significant amongst these is MyRoutes, which is similar to TomTom’s IQ Routes. Instead of merely basing its navigation on road speed limits or distances, MyRoutes takes historic traffic information into account, as well as day of week and time of day. So routes will be different during weekday rush hour than on Sunday morning. Unlike TomTom’s IQ Routes, however, you are given three choices of routing, allowing you to select the one which suits you best.
Another new Navigon innovation is Clever Parking. This is really just a development of parking Points of Interest, but nonetheless useful. As you approach your destination, a P sign appears onscreen. Clicking on this calls up a list of nearby car parks, so you can quickly find somewhere to leave your car at your destination. Similar is POI Click, which allows you to touch the points of interest you see onscreen to reveal more details about them. When POIs are tightly packed, clicking on one calls up a list of all nearby POIs, so you can choose the one you were actually interested in.
The final new addition is MyReport, which again apes a feature TomTom introduced a couple of years ago (Map Share). Instead of having to grin and bear it when the roads don’t match your map, you can use MyReport to make a note of the differences on the sat-nav itself. You can add map or safety camera changes. The map options cover new house numbers, streets, and roundabouts, plus changes in driving direction, speed limit and street name. The safety camera option actually includes changes in speed limits (again) and control direction as well as just adding or removing safety cameras. Your changes are uploaded to Navteq when you sync the device with a desktop computer.
The 7310 has an RDS-TMC receiver built into the car charger. This gives you free traffic updates in some European countries, but in the UK you need to buy a subscription, which costs £40 for a lifetime of service. Considering that TomTom’s similarly-priced GO 730 (the European map version of the GO 530) includes this in the basic cost, Navigon looks a little stingy.
During navigation, the usual array of Navigon map view enhancements is available, and they’re quite effective. Lane Assistance Pro goes well beyond the usual turning arrow, showing all the carriageways at a junction and precisely which ones to be in to stay on the correct route. Reality View Pro takes this one stage further, displaying a full-screen graphic resembling the junction in 3D along with a realistic representation of the road sign, although this is only available at the most important intersections.
The Navigon 7310 is packed with features. The headline 3D enhancements still feel like a work in progress, but that doesn’t stop this being a very functional sat-nav overall. At around £300, it’s also priced reasonably considering the full Western European mapping and specification, although the necessity of forking out for a subscription to activate RDS-TMC in the UK reduces this. But if you do want a comprehensively capable personal navigation device, TomTom’s GO 740 LIVE, the European map version of the GO 540 LIVE, remains our top recommendation, assuming you travel frequently enough to make the monthly subscription worthwhile.
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