Motorola took a pretty serious beating when we reviewed its MotoNav TN30 portable navigation device. However, instead of dropping out of the PND market or simply releasing an incremental update with fixes, Motorola went back to the drawing board and came back swinging with the all new MotoNav TN700 series.
The first model in this new line, the TN765t, not only retools the PND design but also completely reimagines the onscreen experience, merging the map and menu screens into a slick and seamless interface.
Then again, the old TN30 was also a slick-looking device. So, we had to wonder if the MotoNav TN765t could back up its impressive new form with an equal measure of impressive function.
The TN765t breaks from PND convention starting with its cinematic wide-screen display. This 5.1-inch color LCD features a 2.39:1 aspect ratio that is significantly wider than the 16:9 aspect ratio of most wide PNDs. This gives the MotoNav all of the advantages of a big screen with lots of pixel real estate, but with a much lower vertical profile. The TN765t takes up much less windshield space than other 5-inch devices for a less obstructed view of the road ahead. The screen features a matte finish that preserves visibility, even in direct sunlight.
As PNDs go, the MotoNav TN765t is absolutely rife with physical controls. Along the top edge are a power/lock switch and a dedicated menu button. On the back of the device, down either edge are six more physical keys. The left side features volume up, down, and mute; the right side features zoom in, out, and a customizable shortcut key. Volume and zoom can be switched to the opposing sides in the preferences menu.
Along the bottom edge of the device is a proprietary multipin connector for attaching the car dock, a recessed reset button, a microSD card slot, and a Micro-USB port. The device's loud speaker is located in the center of the back panel.
Like any good in-car PND, the MotoNav ships with a windshield-mount car kit. The MotoNav's car kit integrates an FM-traffic data receiver. The TN765t's cradle is atypical in that it can draw power from the PND's internal battery, enabling it to be used without a 12-volt power connection. This is a nice Easter egg for users who like to go cordless for short trips or carry the device from vehicle to vehicle.
The MotoNav TN765t also ships with a 12-volt power cable that is designed to connect to the car dock, an adhesive dashboard mounting disc, a Micro-USB cable, and a multilingual user's guide.
Power up the TN765t and, after a short loading screen, you'll be taken directly to the map screen. The main map screen is, by default, a fairly clean interface. There's an info bar along the top edge, transparent soft keys for voice command, alternate views, and--rather redundantly--zoom in and out. Users are able to overlay POI icons onto the map by choosing categories in a menu and, in the 3D view, major landmarks and large buildings are represented with simple 3D models. Traffic flow and incident data are also overlaid as icons and color-coded highways when available.
The new MotoNav interface doesn't feature a separate menu screen with routing options and preferences. Instead, the menus are overlaid onto the map, sliding in as left and right panels from beyond the edges of the screen.
Tapping anywhere on the map brings up the right panel menu. From here the user is presented with a large "Enter Destination" button and three soft keys along the screen's right edge. Two of these keys are customizable, but the third causes the right panel to slide further out, revealing an assortment of options.
Along the left edge is a thin bar that, when pressed, causes the left panel to appear. The left panel is home to a host of additional information that the driver may find useful while navigating, such as traffic data, a secondary map view, nearby POIs, route information, and speed and direction data.
Both panels slide out with smooth animations. Because of the extra wide screen, the TN765t is able to display most menu panels without completely obscuring the map, allowing users to navigate the menus and navigate the highways at the same time.
The only menu screen that completely blocks out the map is the destination entry screen, although we're not sure if you'll want to be typing an address while driving anyway. There are no separate interfaces for POI search and address entry. Instead TN765t uses a search function. Simply type an address, business name, or POI category, and the device will figure out what you're looking for. The entry screen features a full QWERTY keyboard and integrates an auto complete function that lists possible destinations along the right edge of the screen. Voice entry and Google Search are also rolled into this screen, which we'll cover later.