Harman Kardon Guide + Play GPS-500
Though Harman Kardon is more well-known for its home audio products, the company has made a push into aftermarket car tech, starting with the Harman Kardon Drive + Play 2 and now the Harman Kardon Guide + Play GPS-500. Merging navigation and multimedia into one device, the GPS-500 isn't a bad first try. It offers a stylish and compact design with a beautiful and sharp wide screen. You get all the navigation basics, plus some multimedia extras, for a fair price of $399.95. However, it lags a bit in the performance department, as satellite acquisition can take some time and directions weren't always efficient. The music and video playback is an added bonus, but as we've said in the past, we're a bit weary of its real-life practicality (for now, anyway). That said, if you're looking for a basic and affordable GPS device, the GPS-500 isn't a bad choice, but you'll get smoother performance in the similarly priced Mio C520 or Garmin Nuvi 200.
Much like the company's other products, the Harman Kardon Guide + Play GPS-500 is a stylish piece of technology. It's sleek (4.6 inches wide by 3 inches high by 0.8 inch deep and weighing 7 ounces) and attractive, with a classic silver-and-black finish. The compact size will allow for easy portability between cars, and the unit comes packaged with a simple and secure vehicle mount.
The main attraction of the GPS-500 is its wide-screen 4-inch WQVGA display. The touch screen is responsive and features a 480x272-pixel resolution, so we enjoyed extrasharp text and maps. The screen washed out slightly in direct sunlight, but we readjusted the viewing angle and had no problems seeing the map. Overall, the menus and interface are intuitive and user-friendly. We were slightly confused as to how to get back to the main menu page once we were in a specific function, but we figured out that tapping the Source button performs that task.
The right spine holds a volume dial that you can push in to adjust the screen brightness, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a mini USB port, while the left side has a lone Hold switch. On top of the unit, you will find the Power button and SD expansion slot. And finally, the speaker and external antenna jack are on the back.
Harman Kardon packages the Guide + Play GPS-500 with a car charger, an AC adapter, a USB cable, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a carrying case, and a quick-start guide.
As its name suggests, the Harman Kardon Guide + Play GPS-500 is designed for navigation and entertainment, but route guidance is the primary and most attractive function of this device. The GPS-500 is equipped with a Centrality Atlas II GPS chip and comes preloaded with TeleNav maps of the United States. Before hitting the road, you may want to dig into Route Options and Navigation Settings menus to set your preferences for route creation (shortest time or shortest distance), unit of measurement, avoidances, and so forth.
You can route to a specific address, intersection, or city center, or choose from a list of recently searched destinations or saved locations. The unit is smart enough to gray out letters and numbers as you begin to input data for any cities or streets that do not match, making for faster text entry and selection. Strangely, if you want to plan a trip beyond your home state, you can't simply type in the name; instead you'll have to scroll through a list of the all the states and then select your locale--a bit of an annoyance. Once you've chosen your final destination, you can get a simulation of your route, view a list of turn-by-turn instructions, or add other stops for multidestination trips