LG Electronics is just one in a growing list of consumer electronic companies entering the U.S. GPS market. We first got a preview of the company's new portable navigation line at CES 2007, but recently we got the chance to get our hands on its flagship model, the LG Portable Navigator LN740, which retails for $499.95. The LN740 is a sleek device, offering accurate directions with text-to-speech functionality. LG also includes some nice extras, such as a free trial to Navteq's traffic services and a host of accessories. However, the device falls short with its low-resolution screen, and doesn't offer integrated Bluetooth as do other similarly priced models. The LN740 is a good first effort, but we think you'll get more for your money with the Magellan Maestro 4040 or Garmin StreetPilot c550.
With its sleek, black-lacquered finish and compact size (4.5-inches wide by 3.5-inches high by 0.7-inch deep; 7 ounces), the LG Portable Navigator LN740 is a good-looking portable navigation system. The GPS receiver is integrated into the device, so there's no added bulk on the back of the unit or need to flip up a patch antenna to get a GPS fix.
On paper, the LN740's touch screen looks like a dream but in reality, it's a bit of a disappointment. It measures a wide 4 inches diagonally and displays 260,000 hues at a 320x240 pixel resolution. With that type of color output and screen quality, you'd expect sharp, vibrant maps, but this is not the case. While readable, the screen appeared grainy and pixelated and colors seemed washed out when viewed in direct sunlight. We adjusted the viewing angle and tweaked the brightness settings, which helped a little, but not enough to compete with TomTom's or Garmin's sharp displays. The touch screen, however, was responsive and the interface user-friendly and intuitive.
While the touch screen handles most of the main controls, you can adjust the volume and return to the device's main menu with dedicated controls that sit to the right of the display. There is a mini-USB port as well as a SD expansion slot on the left spine, while the right houses the power button, traffic antenna jack, and power connector. One notable omission we discovered was a headphone jack. The LN740 does offer music playback capabilities and a "pedestrian" mode; while you probably wouldn't use the device as an MP3 player or handheld navigator, it would have been nice to have the option to plug in a pair of headphones for an improved audio experience.
The LN740 comes with a good assortment of accessories, including an AC adapter, a car charger, a vehicle mount (for the windshield and dash), a traffic antenna, a carrying pouch, a USB cable, a backup map disc, and other reference material. We were impressed by the number of goodies (LG includes more than most), and particularly appreciated the AC charger, carrying case, and traffic antenna, as these can cost upwards of $40 when purchased separately.
The LN740 is easy to install on the vehicle mount. We had some initial concerns about whether the adjustable arm could support the device's weight, but the cradle held the device securely in place even as we drove over bumpy roads. The setup for the traffic antenna is a bit awkward, as it involves running a wire along the windshield and attaching it via suction cups. The result isn't very pretty.