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FineDigital FineDrive 400 review:

FineDigital FineDrive 400

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The FineDrive 400 offers a number of options for destination entry. The address-entry option lets you start by first picking a city or street using a touch-screen keyboard. Unfortunately, the keyboard doesn't have predictive entry, so all letters are active at all times, making it easy to fumble and hit the wrong key. At least the keyboard is fairly spacious. After each letter or number is entered, the list of streets or cities displayed shows only the remaining possibilities. Because the touch area for each list item is small, selecting from the list requires a deft hand.

The FineDrive 400's database of more than 2 million POI includes categories for restaurants, emergency services, lodgings, and recreation. Although it has useful items such ATMs and gas stations, we found its shopping category (a subcategory under Business) lacking. It covered only major shopping centers and missed individual stores, making it completely unsuitable for spur-of-the-moment errands.

It saves a list of recent destinations, so it's simple to find preprogrammed spots, and it includes a favorites menu, a good place to store frequently visited locations. There's also a Home icon, where you can enter your home address and quickly navigate to it with the press of a button.

We found route guidance on the FineDigital FineDrive 400 to be rough. Its voice guidance gets too chatty in areas with lots of freeway junctions, piping up with often unnecessary instructions every 30 seconds. It also nags when it gets off route, commanding the driver to take the first legal U-turn as soon as it senses it's not on a prescribed road. More refined units quietly recalculate the route and give the driver the best way to get back on track. The voice guidance can call out freeway or highway numbers but not street names.

The FineDrive isn't particularly accurate, either. A few times, we crossed an intersection before the map caught up with our location, indicating that we should have turned. It gets very difficult to use in areas with lots of closely spaced intersections. Plus, when we veered off course to test the unit's route recalculation skills, it failed miserably. At one point, the FineDrive had us driving in complete circles.

One screen shows latitude and longitude, plus how many satellites it has acquired (it needs 12 to fix its location). From a cold start, the FineDrive 400 took an excruciating 25 minutes to acquire a signal, which was incredibly frustrating. Even worse, the acquisition time didn't get any faster until a few days after we'd gotten the device. Fortunately, we didn't have to be at our destination at a particular time, but this kind of delay would certainly affect the trip time. Route calculation time is adequate.

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