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When Navman launchedin late 2008, it marked a turning point: for the first time the GPS ingredients list included style, as well as utility and features. With a glossy 4.7-inch touchscreen, metallic elements, minimalist map screen and an interface featuring iPhone-style swipe-to-scroll and semi-hidden windows, the S300t was a pretty thing to behold.
Shame then that its unresponsive touchscreen, insufficient processing power and numerous other minor faults meant that the S300t's function lagged well behind its form. Fast forward two years, and Garmin and TomTom have just released their first high-style models, the Nuvi 3790T and respectively. Meanwhile, the new top-of-the-range 2010 Navman, the MY75T, does without the capacitive touchscreen, any metallic body elements and eschews the iPhone-esque interface introduced with such fanfare just two years ago. So, it's back to basics then.
The matte 5-inch resistive touchscreen does its job well — the cheaper MY60T and MY65T units have 4.7-inch screens — and we had no problems viewing the screen in bright sunlight or with polarised sunglasses on. The compact windshield mount also did a good job despite the rough Sydney road network, and unlike the mount for the entry-level EZY30 and , there's no need to fuss around threading the mini-USB plug through the mount.
The stark spartan look of the map screen from preceding generations remains. Tapping the map screen brings up a menu that lets the user adjust the volume, add/skip waypoints, zoom, detour and reroute, as well as view the current route.
To access the main menu one has to use a physical Menu button that brings up a suite of Windows Phone 7-style icons — there's also a physical Pin button that saves your current location to a recent destinations list, just by the by. Using a MY-series GPS is pleasant now that the slide-to-scroll interface, off-screen windows and confusing clicks with swipes have all thankfully been consigned to history's dustbin.
Destination entry is easy to do via the keyword feature, so long as you're not searching for, say, a George Street. Unlike top-of-the-range Garmin and TomToms there's no voice control mechanism, so everything has to be done with the power of one's finger.
While the physical aesthetics may have taken a step back, the top-of-the-range Navman's feature list keeps marching on. There's the commonplace items, like text-to-speech, lane guidance, junction view, Bluetooth hands-free, traffic messaging, 3D landmarks and automatic day/night mode switching. On top of which there's also an FM transmitter, MP3 playback, Lonely Planet travel guides, Hema off-road maps, and verbal camera and school zone warnings.
Most of the time the FM transmitter is powerful enough to provide static free verbal instructions and MP3 playback. In a massive improvement over previous Navman models, music files can be dumped straight onto a microSD card, inserted into the GPS and played straight away. Unfortunately, there's no map screen shortcut to the music selection interface, so skipping a track, changing albums and the like, requires a hunt through the main menu. Rebooting the device will, for some inexplicable reason, reset audio output to the MY75T's internal speaker.
Bluetooth hands-free was rather more problematic than should really be the case. Initial phone/device pairing takes a short eternity and often required us to reset the Navman for pairing to be successful. With an iPhone sound was fine over the internal speaker, but kept on breaking up when sound was set to the FM transmitter. On a Motorola Android handset we had even less luck: we were simply unable to communicate with anyone.