Portable navigation systems have come a long way in terms of functionality. They can talk to you, alert you to traffic, and even entertain you. However, the Navman iCN 750 goes where no GPS device has gone before by incorporating a 1.3-megapixel camera into the unit. Designed for more than quick snapshots, the camera allows you to create and save image-based locations, so you can easily get directions the next time you visit the destination. It's a neat feature and works great; plus, it's an accurate navigator overall.
However, it's not without its faults. The Navman is sluggish to perform tasks and is a bit pricey at $800. Still, you won't find another GPS device like this out there right now, and if you like to see the world through images, the Navman iCN 750 is definitely worth a look.
Outfitted in a stylish black-and-charcoal gray color scheme, the Navman iCN 750 will look good inside any car. At 5.4 by 3.0 by 1.2 inches, it's easily transportable for multivehicle use, but it's a bit heavier (10.6 ounces) than other systems we've tested lately, so it's not ideal for use on foot.
The center of attraction is the iCN 750's 4-inch diagonal touch screen. It boasts 480-by-272-pixel resolution, so text and map images are vibrant and sharp. The touch screen is responsive, but we had some difficulties viewing the screen in bright sunlight and noticed it had a tendency to collect a lot of smudges. Luckily, Navman includes a screen shammy as part of the package. To the right of the screen are five shortcut keys: gas (displays gas stations nearest your current location), parking (highlights nearest parking garages), main menu page, go-to menu page, and a button that cycles through the 3D map, 2D map, next turn, and turn-list screens.
While the controls are easy to master, the Navman's interface isn't always intuitive. The main menus are straightforward, but navigating the submenus takes some trial and error. For example, when searching for various points-of-interest (POI), we weren't sure how to scroll through the list; none of the external controls worked, and it was only after a couple of minutes that we noticed the virtual scroll wheel on the right-hand side of the screen. We found the onscreen keyboard to be a little cramped, and we often hit the wrong button. The silver lining is that the system will autopopulate a field with possible addresses or locations after you've entered the first couple of letters of a word.
The Navman's controls allow you to easily check for gas stations and parking garages near your current location.
Rounding out the controls on the right is an external volume dial for easy audio control. A headset jack, an SD card expansion slot, a power connector, and a USB port line are on the left spine. The iCN 750's flip-up GPS antenna is located on the back and folds flush with the unit's surface so you don't have any extra bulk. Also on the back are the speaker and the camera lens. An activation key on top, next to the power button, turns on the camera. There's a small LED to the left of the screen that indicates the status of the battery (green for full, red for low, and orange for charging). A minor quirk: To charge the battery, you must make sure the battery switch on the bottom is green and not orange; otherwise, you might find a dead Navman on your hands.
In addition to the aforementioned screen cloth, you also get a vehicle mount, a 12-volt car charger, a USB cable, an AC adapter, a protective case, and reference material. Though the vehicle mount held the unit firmly in place, we thought some of the plastic pieces felt rather flimsy and could easily break off, so take care.
The Navman iCN 750 comes preloaded with maps of North America and offers 2D and 3D map views with day and night colors. For directions to a specific address you can manually enter a street number, or select a POI, a destination from your Favorites list, or a recent location. Or, using the Preferences menu, you can instruct the Navman to calculate routes by shortest distance or fastest time and tell it to avoid or warn you about certain road types--toll roads, unsurfaced roads, or ferry routes. The unit's POI database is quite comprehensive, with listings and contact information for all the major attractions (ATMs, lodging, and gas stations) and beyond (shopping centers, museums, parks, and night clubs). We like that you can quickly find the gas station or parking garage nearest to your current location simply by pressing the shortcut keys on front. You can also build routes with multiple destinations, so you can build these pit stops into your trip. Other navigation features include automatic rerouting, estimated time of arrival, speed check, distance traveled, and text- and voice-guided directions. Unfortunately, the iCN 750 does not support text-to-speech functionality, which would speak specific street names.
Capture your favorite locations with the Navman iCN 750's camera, and create a photo POI.
The Navman iCN 750's claim to fame is its integrated 1.3-megapixel camera and NavPix software. The purpose of the unit's camera isn't to replace your standalone digital camera. Sure, it's not bad if you're in a pinch and need to take a quick snapshot, but the quality isn't up to snuff and definitely not print-worthy. You do get several lighting and brightness options, including night mode, to get the best picture, and you can create photo albums or transfer them to your PC. However, the real draw is the photo navigation and customized POI images. Here's how it works: You can take a photo of a location and as long as you have a GPS fix at the time, the unit will record the site's coordinates. Then you can save the photo as a favorite or POI and use it to quickly get directions the next time you want to visit the location. We had a blast using this feature; it was easy to master and worked as advertised.
Overall, the Navman iCN 750 was a decent performer on our quick jaunts throughout San Francisco and on a longer trip to Sacramento. The first time we turned on the device, it took about five minutes to acquire a satellite fix, but subsequent starts took less than a minute. Our biggest complaint is that the unit was a bit sluggish to draw up route calculations, and there was a noticeable delay when switching between functions and calling up the camera. The good news is that the iCN 750 provided us with precise driving directions and accurately tracked our position. We lost our signal a couple of times as we drove through the San Francisco's financial district, where tall buildings block a clear view of the sky, but this is typical of most GPS devices.