FineDigital FineDrive 400 review: FineDigital FineDrive 400

The box for the FineDrive 400 contains everything needed to use the device right away. Beyond the unit itself, it comes with a GPS antenna, a power cord that plugs into a 12-volt supply, a strong, plastic adjustable clamp with a suction cup on one end suitable for attaching to windshields, and documentation. The instructions suggest leaving the antenna plugged in after it's first installed.

The FineDigital FineDrive 400 does two things: navigate and play MP3s but not simultaneously. The MP3 player reads files copied onto an SD card. It has the usual play, pause, forward, and reverse controls, and it displays ID3-tag information in its interface. The controls are big and easy to use, but there's no way to easily navigate folders and files. The MP3 player can output its sound to a car stereo via either its minijack or through its built-in FM transmitter.

For navigation, the FineDrive 400 comes preloaded with maps of the 48 contiguous United States and Canada. The map display is fairly flexible. It can be set to show a 2D or 3D view, and the heading can be oriented north or in the direction the unit is traveling. The map can show POI icons, which can be customized by category. There's also trip information at the bottom of the screen, including trip time, remaining distance, and speed (it will also alert you if you go over the speed limit). An options menu lets users choose quick or short routes on major or local roads. Ferries, toll roads, and roads with carpool lanes can all be excluded or included. There's also a detour function if you want to avoid a certain part of the prescribed route.

The FineDrive 400 offers a number of options for destination entry. The address-entry option lets you start by first picking a city or street using a touch-screen keyboard. Unfortunately, the keyboard doesn't have predictive entry, so all letters are active at all times, making it easy to fumble and hit the wrong key. At least the keyboard is fairly spacious. After each letter or number is entered, the list of streets or cities displayed shows only the remaining possibilities. Because the touch area for each list item is small, selecting from the list requires a deft hand.

The FineDrive 400's database of more than 2 million POI includes categories for restaurants, emergency services, lodgings, and recreation. Although it has useful items such ATMs and gas stations, we found its shopping category (a subcategory under Business) lacking. It covered only major shopping centers and missed individual stores, making it completely unsuitable for spur-of-the-moment errands.

It saves a list of recent destinations, so it's simple to find preprogrammed spots, and it includes a favorites menu, a good place to store frequently visited locations. There's also a Home icon, where you can enter your home address and quickly navigate to it with the press of a button.

We found route guidance on the FineDigital FineDrive 400 to be rough. Its voice guidance gets too chatty in areas with lots of freeway junctions, piping up with often unnecessary instructions every 30 seconds. It also nags when it gets off route, commanding the driver to take the first legal U-turn as soon as it senses it's not on a prescribed road. More refined units quietly recalculate the route and give the driver the best way to get back on track. The voice guidance can call out freeway or highway numbers but not street names.

The FineDrive isn't particularly accurate, either. A few times, we crossed an intersection before the map caught up with our location, indicating that we should have turned. It gets very difficult to use in areas with lots of closely spaced intersections. Plus, when we veered off course to test the unit's route recalculation skills, it failed miserably. At one point, the FineDrive had us driving in complete circles.

One screen shows latitude and longitude, plus how many satellites it has acquired (it needs 12 to fix its location). From a cold start, the FineDrive 400 took an excruciating 25 minutes to acquire a signal, which was incredibly frustrating. Even worse, the acquisition time didn't get any faster until a few days after we'd gotten the device. Fortunately, we didn't have to be at our destination at a particular time, but this kind of delay would certainly affect the trip time. Route calculation time is adequate.

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    FineDigital FineDrive 400

    Part Number: FD400
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Maps Included Canada
    • Product type GPS receiver
    • Receiver 8 channel
    • Voice navigation instructions
    • Recommended Use Automotive