Having a good grasp on the cell phone and smart phone markets, Nokia is trying something new and branching out into the world of portable navigation systems. However, we think the company better stick to its day job, as its first in-car GPS device is rather unspectacular. The Nokia 330 Auto Navigation system ($499) isn't horrible, per se. It offers all the navigation basics as well as some multimedia extras, and it got us to our destination, but not as smoothly as its competitors. The voice directions weren't as precise, and the user interface could be easier to use. As such, we'd recommend the similarly priced and more feature-rich Magellan Maestro 4040 or Garmin StreetPilot c550.
The Nokia 330 Auto Navigation system is rather ordinary-looking--not particularly flashy, but not unattractive. The unit is clad in classic black and silver and is compact and light enough (3.2 inches wide by 4.2 inches long by 1.2 inches thick; 7.2 ounces) for easy multicar use. However, unlike some of the latest portable nav systems, such as the Garmin Nuvi 200, the Nokia 330 has a flip-up GPS antenna, which adds a slight bump to the back of the unit.
On front of the device, you'll find a 3.5-inch touch screen. Maps were colorful and vibrant, and we could view the screen in various lighting conditions, including bright, sunny days. In addition, you can adjust the backlighting and switch between day and night map colors. The touch screen itself is responsive, and the onscreen keyboard for entering addresses is fairly spacious. One thing we did notice, however, is that there is only one field for an address, whereas most GPS devices we've seen have one for the house number, one for the street, the city, and so forth. With the Nokia 330, you just enter the whole thing on one line. It's not a bad thing; it just threw us off.
There is also a set of controls just to the right of the display that gives you one-touch access to the Home page, Navigate To screen, standby mode, and volume up and down. We always appreciate the inclusion of external volume controls, as it saves us from having to dig through menus to bring up that function. Plus, pressing the volume buttons also brings up a sun/moon icon so you quickly adjust the backlight of the screen.
The left side holds the SD expansion slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and mini USB port, while there's an external antenna jack on the right spine. On the bottom edge, there's a power cord connector and hold switch. And finally, there's a reset button, a main power switch, and the system's speaker on the back side.
The Nokia 330 Auto Navigation unit comes packaged with a car charger, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a USB cable, an SD card preloaded with maps, a software DVD, and reference material. An AC adapter would have been nice for those times when you use the unit outside of the car and need to recharge. The windshield mount is sturdy, but we had a heck of hard time moving the adjustable arm to get the best viewing angle for the Nokia 330. On the one hand, the stiffness is great since you don't get a lot of movement even as you're driving over bumpy roads, but we seriously got a workout trying to move it.
The Nokia 330 Auto Navigation unit is equipped with a SiRFIII GSC3 GPS receiver and features Navteq maps of North America and Route 66 Navigate 7 software. The user interface is fairly intuitive, though not as streamlined or sophisticated as the Garmins or TomToms of the GPS world, and it can get a bit confusing once in map view (see more below). Navigation options are pretty standard. You can get directions by entering a specific address, selecting a point of interest, or picking a point on the map. For a quicker option, you can save your home and work addresses and just tap the appropriate icon on the screen, or select from a list of favorites or recently visited locations.