When we reviewed the Delphi NAV200 last year, we gave it props for being a good value and offering accurate directions. Now, the company has come out with a step-up model, the Delphi NAV300, and once again, we're impressed with how much the system offers for its $399.99 price tag, including Bluetooth integration and text-to-speech functionality. But the admiration stopped once we took it out for a test drive. The text-to-speech directions aren't as smooth as other GPS devices we've tested, and the number of compatible phones is so limited that it almost makes the Bluetooth feature worthless. We were also given inaccurate directions on a couple of occasions. You'll get much better performance from the similarly priced and featured Mio C520.
The Delphi NAV300 sports a design that's slightly revamped over its predecessor's. The overall shape is the same, but it's slightly more narrow and heavier at 4.6 inches wide by 3.1 inches tall by 1.1 inches deep and 7.6 ounces, compared to NAV200's 5.3 by 3.2 by 1 inches and 6.7 ounces. The system also retains the flip-up patch antenna on the back, rather than integrating the receiver into the device. We much prefer the latter, since it looks neater and you don't have to worry about lifting the antenna every time, but it's certainly not a deal-breaker. The Delphi NAV300 is still a compact and ultraportable unit, so you should have no problems transporting it between vehicles.
On front of the device, you have a 3.5-inch, 320x240-pixel-resolution touch screen. The display has an antiglare coating, but we found that the map colors slightly washed out when viewing in bright sunlight. The touch screen is responsive, but once again, we found the virtual keyboard to be rather cramped. And while Delphi includes a stylus in the box, there is nowhere to stow it in on the device itself--a big pain that guarantees you'll misplace the stylus at some point. The NAV200 had a stylus holder, so we're not sure why the company decided to omit it this time.
Surrounding the display, there are four navigation controls. To the left, there are shortcuts to the main menu and Bluetooth settings page, while on the right, you have zoom-in and -out keys. The left spine of the Delphi NAV300 includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, an external mic port, and the power button. Other design features include a volume dial, a TMS-RDS traffic receiver jack, and the power connector on the right side, and an SD expansion slot on the bottom of the unit.
Delphi packages the NAV300 with a car charger, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), a stylus, an SD card preloaded with maps, and reference material.
The overall navigation and multimedia features of the Delphi NAV300 remain the same as those of its predecessor, so we won't go into too much detail here (you can read more about the other capabilities in our Delphi NAV200 review). Instead, we'll focus more on the new features that the company has added to the product.
For route guidance, you get Navteq maps of the United States and Canada preloaded on the included SD card; you can get directions by entering a specific street address, an intersection, a point on a map, or a location on your Favorites or Recent Destinations list. The system can create itineraries by the fastest or shortest route; with or without interstates and toll roads; and in vehicle, pedestrian, or bicycle mode. Once you have a trip entered, you can review a list of turn-by-turn directions, and much to our delight, Delphi has added text-to-speech functionality to the NAV300, so you get actual street names with voice prompts.
Other capabilities include multistop trips, automatic route recalculation, and detours. The points-of-interest database includes 1.6 million entries with branded icons for popular businesses (for instance, McDonalds, Chevron, and so forth), and starting in September, there will be a Zagat Survey upgrade kit where you can search for restaurants, accommodations, and more based on Zagat reviews. The Delphi Real-Time Traffic Kit ($199.99) is also available for the NAV300, which includes an antenna and RDS receiver, an SD card with a software upgrade, and a lifetime subscription to Clear Channel's Total Traffic Network.
A new feature to the Delphi NAV300 is integrated Bluetooth. With this, you can connect your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or smart phone and use the NAV300 as a hands-free speaker system to make and receive calls. Unfortunately, the number of compatible phones is extremely small--just nine of them and only for AT&T and Verizon Wireless--at this time (you can check for supported phones on Delphi's Web site) so this functionality is really limited in mass appeal.
Finally, the NAV300 includes a music and video player as well as an image viewer. The media player supports MP3 and WAV files and AVI video format, while you can view JPEG, GIF, and PNG images. However, like the Averatec Voya 320, you can't use the navigation app and listen to music at the same time, since you have to take out SD card of maps to load another SD card with your multimedia files. Other extras include a calculator, a world clock, and a game.
We tested the Delphi NAV300 in San Francisco, and from a cold start, it took the unit about two minutes to get a GPS fix under clear skies, while subsequent starts took just as long or less. On routine drives throughout the city, the NAV300 did a good job of tracking our location. We also entered our standard trip from the Marina district to CNET's downtown headquarters. We reviewed the list of text-based directions and agreed with the route, then went on our way. The voice prompts were loud and clear, but when it came to text-to-speech, the system mangled some street names more than other GPS devices we've tested.
We also took several wrong turns to test the route recalculation rate. The first couple of times the NAV300 did a good job of getting us back on track in a timely manner. However, the system seemed to bug out when we took a succession of wrong maneuvers, as the new route didn't make sense to us at all. Since we were familiar with the area, we knew that if we listened to the instructions, it would take us farther from our destination or have us going in circles, and it even told us to take a turn in the wrong direction on a one-way street! Pretty bad.