Jensen is no stranger to aftermarket car tech, but we've mostly looked at its in-car stereo units rather than the company's portable navigation systems, so we were pretty anxious to take the Jensen NVX225 out for a test drive when it arrived at our office. On the upside, the NVX225 has a pretty affordable price tag of $299.99 and offers all the navigation basics for getting from point A to point B. However, we found that it couldn't compete with other similarly priced and featured GPS devices, so we'd have to recommend the Mio DigiWalker C230 and Garmin Nuvi 200 instead. Both of these systems have more user-friendly interfaces, better-looking maps, and even better, the Mio C230 offers text-to-speech functionality and costs less.
The Jensen NVX225's design isn't anything to write home about--not that we're saying it's ugly, just a bit ordinary. With a squarish shape and black-and-silver color scheme, it's simple but lacks the attractiveness of a Mio C230 or Garmin Nuvi 200. Still, it's light and compact at 3.6 inches wide by 3.1 inches tall by 0.8 inch deep and 6.8 ounces for easy portability between cars.
The NVX225 is equipped with a 3.5-inch diagonal TFT touch screen. The QVGA display is decent for viewing maps, but we felt colors were slightly washed out, making it difficult to see in bright sunlight, and text wasn't quite as crisp as other systems. You can change the map colors under the Settings menu, and the system can automatically switch maps to night colors if you choose that option. The NVX225's lackluster interface leaves much to be desired and it isn't the most user-friendly, especially once you get deeper into the menus. For example, there were a couple of instances where we didn't know how to get back to the previous screen. As such, we recommend giving the user manual a quick read before setting off on your first trip with the Jensen NVX225.
You will find the power button on top of the unit, as well as a shortcut to the Main Menu page. The left spine has an SD expansion slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a reset hole, and a mini USB port, while there's an external antenna jack, a volume rocker, a master power on/off switch, and a power connector on the right side. The speaker is located on the back along with a stylus on the lower left side for easier text input, which is a good thing since the onscreen keyboard is pretty small.
The Jensen NVX225 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a car charger, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a USB cable, a soft carrying pouch, a companion CD with Canadian maps, and reference material.
The Jensen NVX225 is a basic, entry-level navigation system that comes equipped with a SiRFStarIII GPS chip and preloaded with TeleNav maps of the United States. Jensen includes a companion CD with Canadian maps if you need them, but it'll require that you transfer them from your PC to the device or an SD card. To start planning a trip, tap Find & Go to enter an address, input coordinates, and select from your home and work addresses or a recently visited location. The NVX225 can calculate directions by fastest, shortest, or most economical route and with or without toll roads, ferry ways, U-turns, and so forth. There are also different settings for different modes of transport, including car, bus, bicycle, and pedestrian mode. Alternatively, if you don't need guidance to a specific destination, there's a Follow tool that will simply track you as you drive around.
The system supports multistop trips, and contains a 3.75 million points-of-interest (POI) database. All the major categories are represented, including gas stations, lodging, and ATMs. You can search for restaurants by cuisine type, and there are more specialized interests, such as concert halls, amusement parks, and nightlife. We found the entries to be slightly out of date, as we searched for POI around San Francisco, and discovered several establishments that we knew to be out of business.
The Jensen NVX225 offers turn-by-turn, text-, and voice-guided directions but unfortunately, unlike the Mio C230, it does not support text-to-speech functionality. This means the system won't speak actual street names; instead, you'll get more generic directions like "Turn right in 100 feet." For audible prompts, you can choose six different voices supports automatic route recalculation in three different languages (English, Spanish, or French). There's a Fly Over option to get a running demo of your journey or you can view an itinerary of text-based directions. If you don't like a particular part of the route, there's an Avoid button where you can maneuver around a point by a predetermined distance. The system also supports automatic route recalculation if you get off course, whether by accident or on purpose.
Maps are available in 2D and 3D view with day and night colors, and you can change it so north is always at the top of your screen or the direction in which you are traveling. There's a cockpit view for when you're driving that shows you the name of the current street, direction and distance to next turn, the time, and so forth. Finally, there are several safety tools, such as speed warnings, icons to alert you to unpaved roads, tolls roads, and more.
We tested the Jensen NVX225 in San Francisco, and from a cold start, it took the unit about five minutes to get a fix on our position. Subsequent starts were faster but not immediate as it still took a couple of minutes. The system did a decent job of tracking our position as we drove around the city, but did lose its lock when we drove through the Broadway Tunnel and just briefly in the Financial District, where tall buildings block a clear view of the sky. This is typical of GPS devices, though, and the NVX225 was able to pick up a signal again almost immediately. We entered our standard trip from the Marina District to CNET's downtown headquarters, and the NVX225 was able to promptly return with accurate directions. Voice prompts sounded loud and clear, which was good since we had some difficulties viewing maps and street names on the display because of small font and washed out colors. We also missed several turns along the way to test the route recalculation rate, and the unit was able to get us back on track in a timely manner.