Nextar is just the latest company to join the burgeoning category of portable navigation systems and, on paper, its Nextar Snap3 in-car GPS looks to be a steal. For about $200, you get a compact GPS device with text-to-speech functionality, integrated Bluetooth, and multimedia capabilities. We've seen comparable systems go for twice that price. Unfortunately, after taking it out for a test drive, we wouldn't spend a dime on the device. The Snap3 is sluggish and the system froze on us on one occasion. If you're looking for a portable navigation system with these features, it's worth paying a little more to get the Mio C520 or the Garmin Nuvi 660 and know that you'll get better performance.
The Nextar Snap3 has a simple design and compact frame at 3.9 inches wide by 3 inches tall by 0.6 inch deep, so you'll have no problem carting this petite portable navigation system between vehicles. The front features a 3.5-inch touch screen that's bright and readable in various lighting conditions. That said, the display doesn't quite have the sharpness or crispness of some of the other systems we've tested.
The main menu is easy to understand and use with clearly identified icons, though it could certainly use a boost in the aesthetics department. Once we dug into the Navigator program, we recognized the user interface and menu system as the same one found on the Rand McNally GPS Navigator. For the most part, you shouldn't have any problems figuring out how to enter addresses, plan trips, and the like, but we think choosing the various route and display options could be simpler. As is, you have to sort through various tabs, which can be overwhelming at first glance.
On the left side, there are volume up and down keys, a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, and a play/stop button for the media player. Meanwhile, the right spine has an external antenna jack, a power button, and a lock key. The top of the unit has a stylus holder and a miniSD card expansion slot for loading up all your multimedia files. Last but not least, there's a mini USB port and a master power switch.
The Nextar Snap3 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a car charger, a soft carrying pouch, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), and reference material.
The Nextar Snap3 comes preloaded with NAVTEQ maps of the United States and Canada and 1.6 million points of interest. The navigation features are pretty standard compared with other GPS devices on the market today. You can plan trips by entering specific addresses, intersections, or selecting locations from your Recent or Favorites lists. If you don't have a specific destination in mind, the Snap3 can simply track your route as you drive. There's also a Current Location item that will display your coordinates and block information, which is nice data to have in case you're meeting someone or need to road assistance.