Kogan EziNav G3 review: Kogan EziNav G3

Roadshow Editors' Rating

3.5 Overall

The Good Not bad looking. FM transmitter sounds good.

The Bad Everything else really. Resource related crashes. Stuttering, chopped up speech. Slow refresh rate. Disappearing streets. Music playback or sat nav, which will it be?.

The Bottom Line Want more for less? Kogan's EziNav G3 delivers with more crashes, more stuttering speech, more disappearing streets and more unusable features.

Design

A rectangle it may be, but the EziNav's slim, piano black body is not the eyesore we were expecting and, unlike some Kogan products we've reviewed in the past, it's actually branded. Even better, though, is the relatively compact windshield mount; a far cry from the long and tortuous stem found on previous models. Shame then that the lever for the suction cup snapped off during testing. There's a replacement mount available already, but it's less compact and more fiddly with its posse of screws and adjusters.

The G3 offers a 4.3-inch screen for the price of a 3.5, but press the touchscreen and it distorts markedly, especially near the edges. At night the red power light glows as brightly as a star about to go nova, burning holes into our retina. And — yes, we're nitpicking now — the USB power plug protrudes rather ungainly out one side of the EziNav.

The Kogan features iGo's navigation software that we've seen before in various Uniden portable nav devices. The main nav screen is packed with turn instructions, various meters and buttons vying not only for vital screen real estate, but also the driver's attention. A rabbit warren of menus lurk within the app, with many functions living outside of the main menu.

Features

More features for less money has been Kogan's modus operandi. So while there's no traffic messaging support, the EziNav G3 obliges with the aforementioned 4.3-inch screen, text-to-speech, Bluetooth hands-free and an FM transmitter for an RRP of just AU$249. As the latter two items are usually only available on nav units double the price, the EziNav is on paper, at least, a star. As any sports fan will tell you, though, paper and real-life greatness are often mutually exclusive.

Many of the EziNav's extra features aren't built directly into the iGo software, but are thrown on top of the underlying Windows CE operating system — a cut down mobile OS only distantly related to its desktop namesake. Most portable nav devices are built on CE, but nowadays, aside from the odd system sound, this layer is hidden from the user. Not so with the EziNav; unless otherwise configured, the G3 boots into a shell menu where you must manually launch the iGo app.

Once inside iGo, the way back to the shell is via button marked "M" next to the power switch. Bluetooth hands-free and FM transmitter configuration, as well as the multimedia features, can only be accessed via this shell menu. Scrolling from one end of this menu to the other is an exercise more tedious than listening to Bernie Fraser read The Lord of the Rings and, frankly, not worth the effort, as all the extra features contained within have enough bugs to fill a B-grade horror flick.

Performance

The FM transmitter itself is one of the best we've used in a long while, with little of the background noise, static or distortion that we commonly have to grin and bear. It's a pity, then, that the unit's instruction voice — there's only one English computer voice — is a little too bassy and distant via FM. That's nowhere near as distracting as the s-s-s-s-stuttering, clipped words, pr...egnant pauses and dr-pped letters that make comprehension almost impossible at times. Imagine listening to a two-year-old utter "left on to Mac-kwa (Macquarie) Street" or "turn right on to B-ij (Bridge) Street" without the excitement, joy and pride. The old trap of uttering route numbers instead of street names is also fallen into, yet somehow seems trivial in comparison.

Music playback via FM could have been this device's saving grace, but it can't handle variable bitrate files and the clunky interface, while playing music in the background is detrimental to iGo's mental health. The video player recognises DivX and XviD movies although playback is choppier than the North Sea and photos take so long to load that we gave up.

None of this would matter too much if the EziNav made, well, navigation easy. Route entry and calculation work OK when not under duress, and CBD performance is no worse than normal. The lane guidance graphics, as with other iGo-based systems, are too small and it's unclear as to which lane you should be in. 3D landmarks are also available, but, as they're not at all transparent, prove to be a nuisance in the city. The EziNav contains speed and red light camera positions, although as there are no audio or large visual alerts, you'll have to peer closely at the screen to spot the map icons.

Even Bluetooth, with the FM transmitter and music playback switched off, navigation proved buggy. Screen refreshes, especially the streets, can be glacial at times and on one way streets simply refused to be drawn, leaving us driving in a virtual terra nullius. Background music playback, Bluetooth connectivity, route simulation and browsing through the map have all caused "lack of resource" errors, crashing the navigator.

Conclusion

On a good day the EziNav does an almost passable job of guiding you to places unknown, but the multitude of critical bugs — slow refresh rates, stuttering, chopped up speech, disappearing streets and memory-related crashes — make it impossible to recommend. Forget the brilliant on-paper value, in this case you get less for less.

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