Navigon's line of portable navigation systems seems to follow the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, offering three different flavors with one to hopefully match your tastes and needs. For the gadget hounds and GPS enthusiasts, there's the Navigon 7100 with its advanced features like Bluetooth and traffic services, while the Navigon 5100 is more of a middle-of-the-road system for intermediate users. And now for beginners, there's the Navigon 2100. The entry-level unit has an attractive price point of $249, and includes text-to-speech functionality for speaking actual street names, which you don't often find at this price range. In addition, you have the ability to add more functionality, such as traffic services and refined points of interest search, once you become more familiar with GPS. That said, we were turned off by the sluggish performance and inefficient route recalculations. The user interface can also be confusing and overly complicated. As a result, for first-time GPS buyers, we'd recommend the Mio DigiWalker C230, which offers ease of use and similar features.
The Navigon 2100 is a miniaturized version of the Navigon 5100 and 7100. It features the same, sleek black finish of the other two systems but has a smaller footprint at 4 inches wide by 3.1 inches tall by 0.8 inch deep and 5.6 ounces for easy transport between vehicles. It's compact enough that you could feasibly use it while navigating on foot or mounted to a bicycle.
Despite its petite size, the Navigon 2100 still manages to pack in a standard 3.5-inch touch screen. Maps and text appeared sharp and vibrant, and we were able to read the display in various lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. The onscreen keyboard is a bit cramped to quickly and easily enter addresses, and unfortunately, there's no stylus included to help with the situation. In addition, the system's sluggish performance slows down the address entry process. (See Performance section for more).
The user interface is fairly easy to use, though not as intuitive as other systems. The main menu page includes five clear options: New Destination, My Destinations, Take Me Home, Show Map, and Options. However, as we've noted with other Navigon product reviews, 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 rest of the 2100's design is minimal. On top of the device, you'll find a power button and a jack for an external antenna. The SD expansion slot is located on the right side, while there's a reset hole on the left spine. Finally, the mini USB port is on the bottom.
The Navigon 2100 comes packaged with a car charger, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), an SD card preloaded with U.S. maps, and reference material. For better or worse, the 2100 doesn't ship with the modern-looking windshield mount included with the Navigon 5100 and 7100. Instead, you get a more traditional accessory, which did a good job of holding the system securely in place.
The Navigon 2100 is equipped with a SiRFstarIII GPS chip and includes Navteq maps of the 48 contiguous United States preloaded on the included SD card. To start planning a trip, you can enter a location by specific address, point of interest, recent destination, user-defined home, and so forth. The 2100 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 options for creating routes via pedestrian or bicycle mode. As with most portable navigation systems, you get text- and voice-guided directions, but unlike many units in this price range (with the exception of the Mio C230), you also get text-to-speech functionality so you'll hear actual street names instead of more generic directions. Other standard navigation features include automatic route recalculation, multistop trips, simulated demos, and speed alerts.