Sony NV-U83T review: Sony NV-U83T

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 5.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Sony NV-U83T boasts a spacious 4.8-inch touch screen, and you can perform certain operations with the swipe of your finger. The in-car GPS also has text-to-speech functionality, integrated Bluetooth, and 3D views for complicated intersections.

The Bad Satellite acquisition time is erratic and route calculations weren't the most efficient. Planning a trip on the NV-U83T isn't as streamlined as other GPS devices we've tested.

The Bottom Line The Sony NV-U83T is a seemingly attractive in-car GPS with a large display and useful navigation features, but it shows its ugly side with poor directions and subpar performance.

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First introduced at CES 2008, the Sony NV-U83T is the company's flagship portable navigation system. With a focus on safety, the NV-U83T features a number of nice and unique features, including pressure, gyro, and acceleration sensors to provide for more accurate positioning even when driving through tunnels and in between tall buildings and 3D renderings of complicated intersections. Plus, it boasts a large 4.8-inch screen with a Gesture Command function that lets you perform certain tasks with just the swipe of your finger. Throw in the integrated Bluetooth and text-to-speech functionality, and you seemingly have good in-car GPS for pretty fair price of $399.99. However, you've got to have the performance to back it up, and the Sony NV-U83T just doesn't bring it, lagging behind the completion from start to finish.

Design
At 5.6 inches wide by 3.4 inches tall by 0.8 inch deep, the Sony NV-U83T is larger than recent portable navigation systems but with good reason. The NV-U83T features an extralarge 4.8-inch touch screen (compared with the more standard 4.3-inch models of late), and with its 480x272 pixel resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio, maps are nice and easy to read on the unit. The display is also readable in various lighting conditions.

For the most part, the touch screen is responsive, though address entry isn't a seamless process on the NV-U83T (see Performance section for more). To make device operation easier and safer, Sony does include a unique feature called Gesture Commands that enables you to perform certain functions by "drawing" symbols on the touch screen with your finger. For example, drawing an inverted V (like a rooftop) will automatically route you home from your current location, or you can change the scale of the map by making a clockwise or counterclockwise circle. Other commands include calling home and routing to two predefined favorite locations.

Sony's software is fairly intuitive, and we were able to operate most of the device's functions without opening the user's manual. There are three tabs you can cycle through: Navigate, Application, and Settings. The only area that's a bit kludgey is the Settings menu, since there are so many options to scroll through. To the left of the display, there are also two touch-sensitive controls: a main menu shortcut and one that will repeat voice directions and give you your current location.

On the bottom of the NV-U83T, you will find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Memory Stick Duo slot, an Open/Release button for the vehicle mount, a mini USB port, a DC power connector, and a reset button. Meanwhile, there's a lone power button on top of the unit.

The Sony NV-U83T comes packaged with a car charger, a TMC antenna, a USB cable, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), and reference material. The mounting apparatus is worth a mention. Instead of a suction cup, there's a sticky disc (think of those little Wacky Wall Walkers you used to get in cereal boxes) that you can attach to the windshield or dash, and it's fortified by a locking mechanism. To attach the unit to the mount, you have to press the Open/Release button on the bottom of the NV-U83T, which pops up the battery compartment and allows you to fit it to the cradle. It did a good job of securely holding the system in place during our road tests. Also, be aware that the TMC antenna jack is located on the cradle, and not the unit itself.

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Where to Buy

Sony NV-U83T

Part Number: NV-U83T
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

  • Features anti-glare
  • Weight 8.8 oz
  • Maps Included USA
  • Product type GPS receiver
  • Voice navigation instructions
  • Run Time (Up To) 2 sec
  • Recommended Use automotive