- Review Price: £352.49
Navigon may not be one of the biggest names in the sat-nav business, but it has been leading one area of technology on a regular basis: 3D enhancements. It was one of the first to introduce 3D landmarks, with the 7210, and then City View 3D with the 7310. Now the 8410 launches yet another foray into the third dimension: Real City 3D.
Where Landmark 3D only includes realistic models of certain key buildings, and City View 3D approximates the dimensions of city blocks with featureless boxes, Real City 3D lives up to its title by mimicking what you’re likely to be seeing through your car windscreen as faithfully as possible. The level of detail and quality are not unlike an early first-person-shooter videogame. It’s similar to Doom 2 in graphical terms, only without the monsters, unless you count the guys driving white vans.
Your route is still projected in front of you as a line, and since the buildings will now block your view round corners, there’s also a small top-down 2D map as well, superimposed over the bottom right-hand corner. Screen updates are unsurprisingly more jerky than with the usual map, but this isn’t as bad as you might have expected. Since you won’t usually be travelling over 30mph within most cities, anyway, the map keeps up with your real position reasonably well.
However, Real City 3D has a number of other drawbacks. Although the building models look real, they often don’t look a lot like the buildings you will actually be seeing. The main reason is that most of the textures are generic, with only a few matching the true building facades, which may be a very distinctive colour. Some unusual building shapes are replicated, such as concave fronts, but most eye-catching features are omitted. For this reason, Real City 3D is more of a distraction than a hindrance, like a window on an uncanny alternative universe. It sounds great on paper, but it needs to be even closer to reality to be truly useful, and only the central part of very major cities are covered, too.
Fortunately, the 8410 has a few other new features. Navigon is positioning it as more than just a sat-nav. Instead of going straight into the navigational software when you first turn it on, the 8410 presents a menu with a few other options. These include a media player, which supports music, video and still images. However, if you want to watch MPEG-4-based formats such as DivX, a £15 Digital Codec Package will be required. There’s also a hands-free interface for your phone, which you connect to via the usual Bluetooth. The third option is TV, which is greyed out unless you install the optional TV module. This fits into a dedicated slot on the side of the device, although we weren’t supplied with it so cannot comment on its abilities, nor has a price been announced.
The other main area of enhancement is that the voice recognition system has been extended, which Navigon is calling Voice Interaction Pro. Now, when you select this option, you are supposed to be able to speak normal sentences to find your intended destination. But we found the main difference was that the Voice Command option on the main menu now lets you search for POIs and select from your saved My Destinations as well. Both the address and POI options drill down via the traditional routes – city-street-number for addresses, and through categories for POIs. The latter in particular just provides a list of nearby options. So both are quite limited, but that also makes their recognition abilities more dependable. With fewer choices, there are fewer options for the recognition system to look out for. Garmin’s nuvi 860 still holds the crown for voice functionality, though.
Otherwise, the 8410 has all the new features of the previous Navigon generation. These include MyRoutes, which is Navigon’s take on TomTom’s IQ Routes. When you choose your destination, you’re given a selection of three routing options, which are calculated based on real traffic speeds for that time of day and day of week. You can then select the one which suits your driving style, such as more motorways and fewer shortcuts through cities. Clever Parking lets you find somewhere to drop off your car near your destination. A P icon pops up on the map screen as you approach, which calls up a list of car parks nearby. Alternatively, when you first find your location, you can choose to reroute to nearby parking lot instead.
Physically, the 8410 is a bit larger than the usual widescreen sat-nav, as it uses a 5in display. This is bright, clear, and has wide viewing angles, plus its size provides ample room for the picture-in-picture Real City 3D mapping. The mount design is well executed, too. The clip also incorporates all the necessary electrical contacts, and you plug the car power adapter into the mount. So you can simply attach the 8410 and go with one action.
The usual widgets are included. Safety camera warnings inform you when you are approaching a speed trap, with a year’s updates costing £25. Navigon’s polite announcements tell you to ‘beware’ when you’re over the limit and when a sharp curve is soon to be encountered. Full-screen graphics appear at complex multi-lane junctions. So the 8410 keeps up with the competition for the latest everyday navigational aids. The 8410 also includes a radio receiver for RDS-TMC traffic updates. Unlike some Navigon sat-navs, this particular model appears to have a Premium UK subscription already activated, too, which saves you the £40 price.
The Navigon 8410 is a nicely designed, premium sat-nav. Had it been released a few years ago, it would have been very competitive. Unfortunately, the battle has now moved onto mobile data-enabled functions. The 8410’s sibling the 8450 will be offering these, but we haven’t got our hands on that yet. So although this is a 5in widescreen device, its price looks steep next to the cheaper Garmin 1690, which includes a year’s live-enabled services. The 8410 may be a capable personal navigation device, but it’s overpriced, despite the fact you get two years of map updates as standard.
Score in detail
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