The Eclipse AVN2210p is a novel addition to the aftermarket in-car navigation scene. It is the first system we have seen that combines the functionality of an in-dash GPS navigation device and media player with that of a standalone portable navigation device. It does this by using a TomTom Duo portable GPS device in combination with a unique docking mechanism, enabling drivers to insert and remove the touch screen navigation module at will. In its in-dash mode, the system can be used to play a variety of digital audio formats, including MP3 and WMA discs, and input from portable digital audio players via a front-mounted USB port. It can also be used right out of the box as a very useful Bluetooth hands-free calling interface with some advanced options, including instant phonebook transfer and text message playback.
Apart from the hard button used to switch between map and audio view, all of the navigation functions on the Eclipse AVN2210p are controlled using the TomTom Duo's touch screen. Due to its dual functionality, the navigation screen on the Eclipse AVN2210p is far smaller than those on other double-DIN-size in-dash units. However, this size restriction does not impede functionality as much as it might, and maps and menus remain legible thanks to the TomTom's bright and colorful graphics. For digital audio playback, the Eclipse AVN2210p makes use of the same rotary volume knob/four-way push-button selector as that in the Eclipse CD3100. Curiously, disc-based audio cannot be controlled via the LCD touch screen, but media played via the USB port can.
Whether the TomTom Duo device is docked or undocked in the AVN2210p cradle, all navigation functions are performed using its touch screen. Programming in a destination is straightforward, thanks to the colorful icons that populate each menu level. Destinations can be entered by address, ZIP code, city center, or cross street. Punching in an address on the system's touch screen keypad is easy and very quick, thanks to the impressive refresh rate of the menu level screens, and route calculation is equally swift. After selecting a route that meets their specifications (fastest, shortest, avoiding freeways, designated arrival time, etc.), drivers are given a whole host of features to preview their journeys before setting out. Specific route-preview options include: browse as text (gives a list of turn-by-turn directions); browse as images (shows each turn on the map); browse route on map; show route demo (runs through a virtual tour of the route, complete with turn-by-turn voice directions); and a route summary. When satisfied with the proposed route, the system gives turn-by-turn directions to a destination, either via the car's speakers (with the nav system docked) or via the TomTom Duo's built-in speaker. During route guidance, the screen displays roads in bright colors, with suggested turns illustrated with big, green arrows.
One observation that is worth making, however, is that the system makes no distinction between driving directions (for when the TomTom unit is docked) and pedestrian directions (for when the TomTom unit is detached), meaning that all suggested routes are given with respect to road restrictions, such as one-way streets. We would like to have seen a pedestrian mode in the vein of other standalone portable GPS devices. Another niggle we have with the standalone GPS device is that its spoken directions are barely audible on a busy street, even with the volume turned up to maximum. And to round out our criticism of the standalone TomTom Duo, its battery life registered at less than two hours--far beneath the five-hour mark that most standalone GPS devices manage.