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The Motorola MotoNav TN765t features all of the standard features that we'd expect to find in a GPS device of its price, including text-to-speech and graphic lane guidance. When connected to its charging cradle, the MotoNav can also download free traffic data for major highways. Traffic data is free but ad-supported, so occasionally we would see small unobtrusive text ads and offers appear.
The TN765t features Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, a simple enough feature that Motorola has implemented in a very interesting way. After pairing with a four-digit PIN, the TN765t is able to make voice calls and, for compatible phones, can sync contacts. For phones that support Bluetooth messaging, the TN765t can even read SMS messages aloud and present a collection of quick messages for firing off a response at the touch of a button.
Motorola takes advantage of the Bluetooth connection to add data connectivity to the TN765t via a service that it calls MotoExtras. This system uses your phone's voice connection to access Motorola's servers via a dial-up connection to fetch data for fuel prices, weather forecasts, and flight status.
For example, say you're searching for a restaurant that isn't included in the TN765t's preloaded POI database. Simply hit the Google button from the destination entry screen, and then hit Search. The TN765t will make a short voice call (approx. 30 sec.) to Motorola's server and retrieve the first 10 or so results. Because it uses the voice call function, the MotoExtras service doesn't require a phone with a data connection or plan and thus can be used with just about any Bluetooth-enabled phone. However, it does require a subscription. The service is free for the first 90 days after registration, after which users will be charged a fee for the service.
Most basic functions can be access via voice command. When in voice mode, the device will present a collection of valid responses that guide the user in the right direction. The MotoNav's speech-to-text engine isn't as robust as, for example, Google's voice search, so it struggles a bit with odd proper nouns. However, for most functions and major business names (e.g. Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.) it gets the job done.
The first cold boot of the MotoNav TN765t took about 35 seconds, after which an additional minute was required for initial satellite lock. Subsequent reboots were almost instantaneous. The device's interface was responsive and snappily transitioned from menu to menu with smooth animations. Although the resistive touch screen won't hold a candle to that of, say, the iPhone, it was plenty responsive enough for our simple swipes and one-handed taps. Additionally, the resistive screen has the advantage of being usable with gloves, which is great for cold winter mornings.
We ran into a few issues with Bluetooth connection stability during our first day, but after connecting the TN765t to a PC we found that a firmware update was available. After a quick install and a few reboots, all of the issues were resolved. The fact that Motorola already has fixes available so soon after launch was refreshing.
Deep in the urban canyons of downtown San Francisco, among the city's tallest buildings, the TN765t struggled to maintain our position. However, when a clearer view of the sky opened up, the MotoNav was quick to reacquire our position and recalculate our route.
One feature that we really found useful was the Trip Planner. This menu allowed users to choose and save multiple points of interest in a sort of destination playlist for easy retrieval at a later date. For example, one could input all of the destinations for a day's chores or a list of clients to visit, then hit one button to navigate to each of them in succession. To avoid driving back and forth across town all day, the Trip Planner also features an Optimize button that automatically places the destinations in the most efficient order for the shortest overall trip. Users can move destinations around in the list by dragging for more fine tuned control.
At first, we were a bit miffed at the idea of paying for the MotoExtras service when it in fact makes use of the users' voice service (and calling minutes) to access the data. However, by pairing with the users' phone, Motorola was able to avoid the additional cost of installing a cellular chip in the TN765t's chassis, keeping the price well below that of other connected PNDs such as the TomTom GO 740 Live and Garmin Nuvi 1690 while still offering compatibility with the vast majority of Bluetooth phone on the market. However, the Motorola's data connection doesn't include high-resolution live traffic and always on fuel pricing, so there are compromises to this configuration.
The MotoNav TN765t represents a phenomenal improvement over Motorola's last attempt to break into the PND market. We love how the TN765t's turns the standard PND interface on its ear by ditching the discrete menu screen in favor of a single cohesive interface for mapping, navigation, and options. Given our choice of PND interfaces to use in a moving vehicle, the MotoNav beats all--even the longtime high watermark, the Garmin Nuvi. We also feel that the TN765t offers a good mix of features for its price point with Bluetooth hands-free calling, lifetime traffic data, text-to-speech, and enhanced map data with lane guidance and 3D landmark info.
While we generally have few complaints about the TN765t's FM-traffic data and dial-up style of data connectivity, we'd like to see Motorola offer a model in the TN700-series that features an always-on data connection with live HD traffic (a la Garmin NuLink), even if that model carries an additional cost. As it stands, the lack of such a constant stream of data, along with the MotoNav's so-so performance in urban environments among tall buildings, is the only thing holding the MotoNav TN765t back from our Editors' Choice Award, which--when you consider how far the MotoNav line has come in one generation--is fairly impressive in its own right.