Heading into Christmas 2008, Navman has decided to go with a two tier strategy. As we've summarised before there are four slim-line, Apple-esque S-Series Platinum models up the price tree, while at the entry-level are two warmed over units from last year, the S35 and S45, which are collectively dubbed the S-Series Classics. Both use the same shells as last year's S-Series models: the S35 gets the body housing and a 3.5-inch screen, whilst the S45, predictably, has the larger 4.3-inch screen.
One of the key upgrades from last year's S30 to this year's S35 is the inclusion of text-to-speech. This allows spoken instructions to include street names, so "turn left in 300 metres" becomes a rather more helpful "turn left in 300m onto Bathurst Street". The S35 also uses the latest version of the Whereis/Sensis maps.
Although the only quality time we've spent with the S35 was at the press launch and at the Sydney Motor Show, the user interface doesn't seem to have changed from last year, which isn't a bad thing — it's easy to use, is sufficiently flexible and has a gentle learning curve. No, the problem is that Navman hasn't changed the awkward cradle and windshield mount design. The way it's designed demands that you slide the mini-USB charger into the mount, and then align both that and the mount's tongue with the appropriate slots on the GPS. You can read more this major flaw, as well as the good bits, in our detailed S30 review.
At AU$299 the S35 with standard text-to-speech is undeniably good value, however we're disappointed to see that Navman hasn't rectified the whole windshield mount/USB issue. Also, it's mightily confusing to see both Navman and Mio, both owned by the same company, come out with competing devices sporting the same interface but using different map providers — the Navman S35 and S45 both use Sensis/Whereis maps, while the Mio Moov range uses Navteq maps. Oh, and the high-end S-Series Platinum models use Navteq maps too. Capiche?