Uniden IGO500 review: Uniden's IGO500 GPS is a blast from the past, but not a great one
Most GPS manufacturers update their GPS lines at least once a year with some new search or interface quirk. Not so with Uniden, where the iGO500 has been on sale for a number of years now -- and it shows. The design of the IGO500 brings to mind the iPhone 4's design, but without that smartphone's crisp display. Instead what you're faced with is a 5-inch GPS with a distinctly grainy tone. Uniden has sensibly lowered the price on the iGO500 as it's aged, so that it now has an RRP of $149.95, but in my searches it wasn't hard to find it on sale for under $100.
The iGO500 is so old school that it comes with its own stylus to compliment its resistive display screen. The Stylus is very thin and it's easy to overlook its existence altogether. The iGO 500's screen mount holds the GPS very securely in place, as well as allowing for easy removal when you're parked.
The iGO500 is a very bare-bones GPS to buy in 2014, especially as Uniden only offers a three-year map guarantee with the unit itself. Uniden's map UI manages the rare feat of looking like it belongs on a unit even older than the iGO500 itself. The core UI isn't a bad one, but it's quite simple, and while the device itself looks like an iPhone 4, the screen resolution and menu choices quickly remove that illusion. It does offer a variety of route guidance options depending on your driving preferences, but these are set at initial setup, rather than being options given with each route choice as most other GPS units offer.
The iGO500's resemblance to Apple's popular phone line goes a little further than the design, however. Clicking on the "More" option onscreen brings up a bunch of additional apps covering everything from a simple calculator to a picture viewer, a country by country speed guide and even a clothing sizes comparison application.
Thanks to those, I now know that the speed limit in Barbados is pretty much 60kph everywhere, and that a French D Cup Bra isn't the same size as an Australian D Cup. I'm not quite sure why I needed to know those things, or indeed why a GPS needed to tell me, but they're onboard the iGO500 regardless. What you don't get, and what would be a genuine benefit is Bluetooth connectivity to turn the iGO500 into a car speakerphone.
Out of the box and whenever it was tested, The IGO's performance was on the sluggish side, with some jerky map movements and slow route calculations. Re-routing was one area where the Uniden IGO500 scored pretty well, quickly picking up when I went off-route and trying to calculate the optimal return route. Unfortunately that's where its sluggishness kicked in again, as while it churned a progress bar I drove past several intersections that could have solved the detour problems introduced.
The low resolution resistive display screen has acceptable visibility in direct sunlight, but only if you're directly in front of it. That means that there's only a few place on a car dashboard where it works really well, and if you do want your passenger to make some navigation choices while you're driving, which is perfectly legal, they'll struggle to do so unless they place it in front of themselves, at which point the driver won't be able to see the screen properly at all.
A couple of years ago, when it was brand new, the Uniden IGO500 would have been a competitive unit worth consideration. In 2014, however, while it's dipped to a competitive budget price of around $99 online, it's hampered by the problem that besets most budget GPS devices. You're already carrying around a smartphone that can manage at worst slightly stuttery GPS performance. Why would you spend money on another one?