Navigon 7100 review: Navigon 7100

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The Good The Navigon 7100 GPS device offers a number of advanced navigation features, including text-to-speech functionality, an integrated traffic receiver with subscription-free traffic service, and a lane assistant function for optimal routing.

The Bad The 7100 is a bit sluggish and the interface isn't as user-friendly as the competition. You can't sync your cell phone's contact list with the device.

The Bottom Line Though the Navigon 7100 offers some handy navigation tools and integrated Bluetooth, the confusing interface and sluggish performance prevents us from giving it higher marks.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6
Editor's Note: Portions of this review were taken from our evaluation of the Navigon 5100, as the two systems share similar features.

Just recently, we reviewed the Navigon 5100 and were pretty impressed by this newcomer for its useful set of navigation features, including the integrated traffic receiver, lane assistant function, and 3D "photorealistic" view for complicated intersections. Now we're turning our eyes to the step-up model, the Navigon 7100 ($649), which adds integrated Bluetooth and a larger 4.3-inch touch screen. Unfortunately, we're not as pleased with our experience with the 7100. General performance was slightly sluggish and the system's interface can be confusing--definitely not as user-friendly as competing products. Plus, the Bluetooth capabilities are limited since you can't transfer your phone's contact or call-history list to the portable navigation system. Given all these factors, we'd rather give up some features and get better performance from the TomTom GO 720 or Mio C520.

The Navigon 7100 very much resembles the Navigon 5100 with its attractive, curved body and sleek black finish. However, it's bigger at 3.5 inches tall by 5.1 inches wide by 0.9 inch deep and 7 ounces, and, thus, allows for a more spacious 4.3-inch touch screen. It displayed sharp maps and bright colors, and the screen was also readable in various lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. We must say that the onscreen keyboard is a bit cramped, so you can't easily input addresses with your fingers. Fortunately, the Navigon 7100 comes with a stylus for more accurate text entry.

The user interface is the same as that found on the Navigon 5100 and Fujitsu Siemens Pocket Loox N100. The main menu page is user-friendly, with four large and intuitive icons for New Destination, My Destinations, Take Me Home, and Voice Command. We wish there was a Map icon to go directly to the map screen, but as is, you have to tap Options first and then Show Map. Also, once you dive deeper into the applications, things can get a bit confusing and laborious. The function of all the icons on the map screen isn't clearly identified, so we'd recommend giving the user manual a quick read or familiarizing yourself with all the unit's functions before heading off on your first trip.

The power button is located on the right spine. On top of the unit, you'll find an SD expansion slot, while there's a reset hole, a mini USB port, and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on the bottom. Finally, the speaker, external antenna jack, and stylus holder are on the back.

The Navigon 7100 comes packaged with an SD card preloaded with maps, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a car charger, a USB cable, a soft carrying pouch, and reference material. The car mount's design is the same one included in the Navigon 5100, which we found quite interesting. It's quite modern looking, and I didn't even know what it was when I first took it out of the box. To me, it looked like a landline phone receiver, while a fellow CNET editor said it looked like a shower head. I think it's the long, slender arm that throws you off.

The Navigon 7100 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 7100 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.

You can view maps in 2D or 3D mode, and with day or night colors. The map screen shows you plenty of data, such as the name of the street you're on, distance to next turn, estimated time of arrival, remaining distance, a compass, signal strength, and more. You can always choose to hide some of these elements via the Settings menu, since the screen can get pretty overwhelming with all the data and points of interest.