Ride along with Sony's NAV-U94T portable GPS

After recently revamping its NAV-U line of portable GPS devices, Sony dropped by to give us a first look at their top of the line NAV-U94T model that should be hitting store shelves soon.

NAV-U94T home screen
CBS interactive

After recently revamping its NAV-U line of portable GPS devices , Sony dropped by to give us a first look at their top of the line NAV-U94T model that should be hitting store shelves soon. We've already covered many of the new features offered by this device, but hands-on time with the device gives us a little more insight. In order of importance, here are the features we liked most:

traffic screen
Navigation enabled units display traffic issues in order of proximity. CBS Interactive

The first feature demonstrated was the Position Plus technology which uses a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and (interestingly) a barometer to keep track of vehicle position to continue navigation when satellite reception is lost. We chose San Francisco's Stockton Street Tunnel as our destination, which is approximately three blocks long, and set off. Partway through the tunnel, we lost satellite reception, indicated by the display's position triangle turning orange, but the U94T seemed to keep track of our position.

Applying the brakes, we began to slow, then briskly sped back up. The speed readout on the display kept track of these changes as well. Emerging from the other end of the tunnel, the device quickly locked on to satellite reception and we moved on to the next part of testing.

Integrated into the cradle that holds the device in place is an RDS-TMC real-time traffic receiver. The device displays real-time icons for traffic hazards and historic traffic info on the map through color coded streets, with red streets being high traffic, blue streets being low traffic and gray streets being average or no data. Digging into the menu, traffic data can be viewed in detail in order of proximity. Sony's representatives said the U94T, and the other models in the line up with traffic data, use a combination of the real-time and historic data to plan the fastest routes possible. We'll see for sure when our test units arrive.

super suction cup
The new super suction cup is, believe it or not, one of the best features of the NAV-U line. CBS Interactive

Sony's made something of a big deal about its improvements to the super suction cup anchoring system, but we didn't expect to be so impressed by how well the new system works. The new suction cup is made of a tacky, pliable plastic similar to the sticky hand toys that we used to get out of vending machines. Once stuck into place, a lever is twisted to apply suction. This new system sticks to textured dashboards better then many conventional suction cups stick to windshield glass, which is great, as windshield attachment is illegal in many states.

Other features include text to speech reading of street names and a dual screen view that shows detailed information about complex turns. Multimedia features include MP3, AAC, JPEG, and MP4 playback from Sony MemoryStick media, and Bluetooth handsfree calling and audio streaming to an A2DP enabled receiver.

We should be getting review units of Sony's entire NAV-U line up, including the top of the line model NAV-U94T soon. Stay tuned for our full reviews.


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