Though it'll be tough to stand up to the big boys such as TomTom and Garmin, the Navigon 5100 has a fighting chance by offering some useful navigation features that go beyond the basic turn-by-turn directions. First, there's a traffic receiver integrated into the sleek device and you get a free traffic subscription so you can check the road conditions before heading off on your drive. Also, to help make the ride as smooth as possible, there's a lane assistant function that will help find the best lane for your route and a 3D "photorealistic" view of complicated intersections. They all came in handy during our test drive, and most importantly, the system provided accurate directions. Of course, we do have items on our wish list, namely a larger screen, faster satellite acquisition, and a slightly lower price point (it's currently available for $499). That said, we like what the Navigon 5100 has to offer, especially since it focuses on the main task at hand: getting you to your destination with the least stress as possible.
With a sexy chrome finish and compact dimensions (4.2 inches wide by 3.3 inches high by 0.9 inch deep; 6.3 ounces), the Navigon 5100 is a nice-looking and ultraportable GPS device. However, its smaller size also means you won't get the luxury of the larger 4.3-inch displays that are popping up on some of the systems today. Instead, you get a 3.5-inch touch screen that's responsive and shows off sharp maps and bright colors. It's also readable in various lighting conditions, including daylight. Having said that, after testing a number of 4.3-inch models, we did miss viewing maps on the larger screens.
The power button is located on the top of the device along with the external antenna jack. Be aware that you have to hold down the power button for a few seconds to juice it up. On the right side, you have the SD expansion card slot and 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. Finally, there's a mini USB port on the bottom.
The Navigon 5100 is equipped with a SiRFstarIII GPS chip and all maps of the United States and Canada are preloaded on the included SD card. As with most GPS devices, you can enter a location by specific address, point of interest, recent destination, user-defined home, and so forth. The N100 can calculate routes in one of four ways--fast, optimum, short, or scenic--and gives you the option to allow or avoid highways and toll roads. There are also pedestrian, bicycle, and motorcycle route options, and our favorite, slow-car mode. Other standard navigation features include automatic route recalculation, multistop trips, simulated demos, speed alerts, and of course, text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, including text-to-speech functionality for specific street names.