Navman N60i

Upside
Yes, we've seen GPS devices integrated with extra functionality à la PDAs and MP3 players, but there hasn't been too much innovation in what you could do with the GPS itself, until perhaps now.

The Navman N60i has a built-in 1.3 megapixel camera, which doesn't stand up to the picture taking prowess of the average mobile phone these days, but it's what you can do with the snaps it takes that's the pretty cool part. The Navman N60i, and its companion N40i (AU$849), lets you navigate to an image rather than an address. You can download photos of famous landmarks from the NavPix library hosted on the Navman Web site or get back to a favourite unnamed beach or hunting spot by taking a picture there which automatically loads and stores a GPS fix of the spot where you took it.

To build the NavPix library, Navman teamed up with leading travel publisher, Lonely Planet, so not only do you get the latest Lonely Planet images, but also up to 100 words of travel information from the guidebooks including hotels, shops and restaurants across 19 major cities.

This content is all free to download, and, in addition to photography supplied by Lonely Planet, users can create their own photo libraries taken on Navman cameras and upload them to share with others on www.navman.com.

For more conventional 3D navigation, the N60i is pre-loaded with Australia-wide street level mapping. Speed and red light camera warnings are also available via free download from Navman website.

The design of this unit is slimmer than previous models, making it very portable. The 4.3-inch colour touch-screen boasts a new anti-fingerprint/anti-glare surface and there are convenient quick-access Fuel and Parking buttons along the right side of the screen.

It has SiRF Star III GPS receiver which produces a much stronger and faster signal than many older GPS devices. It also features an infrared remote control, 64MB SDRAM + 2GB integrated Flash ROM, (you should be able to store up to 200 favourite destinations or multi-stop trips) and a spare SD slot for additional mapping. Navman claims the rechargeable Li-ion battery should last up to five hours.

Downside
Unfortunately, the clever NavPix idea drives up the price of the N60i, just as prices of GPS devices in general were starting to become more reasonable. The N40i, with a smaller 3.5-inch screen and only 256 MB integrated Flash ROM will save you AU$250. Plus, with only 1.3 megapixels, you'll still have to carry a higher quality camera to document any images you want to keep for other than navigation purposes.

Outlook
Simplicity is paramount in a GPS unit, as the last thing you want is complexity in a device that is designed to give you directions. With NavPix, a smaller form factor, and shortcut buttons to Fuel and Parking locations, the Navman N60i is a big step in the right direction.

The N60i will be available in Australia in mid November and will replace the Navman iCN700 series.

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