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As a latecomer to the Aussie market, Navigon has a lot of uphill battles to fight to gain a foothold here and first impressions of the second-gen models are good. Gone are the entirely piano black bodies, replaced by something altogether sexier. Etched wavy lines adorn the back and a thin band of chrome trim brightens up the front, with piano black relegated to just the screen bezel. It's odd, though, that the power light is on the bottom of the unit and completely invisible when set up.
The windshield mount is a funky, L-shaped contraption that resembles a shoe lever suffering from gigantism; a latch at its tip operates the suction cup. The only real bum notes are the mount's size — those with scant covered storage spaces should look elsewhere — and the overly long USB connector that, in some cars, precludes you from placing the 4350 max close to the dash.
While the screen still looks good with a pair of polarised sunnies on, the user interface, with its dominant colours of black and grey, looks both dour and little changed. The menus have been streamlined a bit, but, with its profusion of tabs and the absence of a QWERTY keyboard, destination entry is still on the wrong side of the pleasure/pain continuum. If anything truly bamboozles you there's a handy hypertext manual to help you out. Also praiseworthy are the volume (not just mute and un-mute) and phone controls that are accessible from the main map screen.
At AU$399 the 4350 max is currently the most expensive model in the Navigon range and comes equipped with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free, text-to-speech, 3D landmarks, multi-stop journeys, lane guidance, junction view, and warnings for speed and red light cameras, as well as school zones. Traffic messaging isn't available, even as an option, nor is music playback or an FM transmitter.
As ever 3D landmarks are a gimmick that obscures streets and other pertinent info, and is better left switched off. To our eyes, the lane guidance graphics, while large, get a little lost in the dull colour palette and the map screen's multitude of buttons and info boxes. In truth, lane guidance and junction view, which replaces the map with a large graphic of an upcoming junction and the appropriate lanes, are pretty rare sighting unless you ply freeways and highways regularly.
We were able to connect a number of phones quickly and easily to the Navigon's Bluetooth hands-free. Volume and clarity were more than fine for on-the-road conversations, with shouting kept to a minimum.