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With my job, I have to do quite a lot of driving on a regular basis. I know the route like the back of my hand, but every now and then, when there is an accident on the way, I need to turn off and find a new way. It isn't always easy to look at the map, and keep my eyes on the road at the same time. I had heard about satellite navigation systems (sat-nav) and decided to take a look at them. I had no idea what I was looking for, so asked around.
Having looked at all the options, and the budget I had available, I decided to choose the Navman iCN 550, including the optional traffic module. It is a choice I have never regretted.
**IN THE BOX**
When you open the box, you will find the following:-
Navman iCN 550
Advertising for other Navman products
I bought my Navman from Halfords, and they were also advertising installation from £30. My first thought was that this was quite extortionate, especially when it said on the box that it was ready to use in less that 5 minutes. I asked why they charged so much. It turns out there are two installation option. One of them is where it is wired into the car, so that you can just turn on the engine, and there it is! The other is where you either use the internal battery, or connect it to the cigarette lighter. I used, and still use the second option.
To install the kit, the windscreen mount works with a suction system, which attaches to the windscreen very easily. The fit is tight, and very secure. The sat-nav then fits into the mount. If you want to, it is now ready to use from the internal battery. However, you can also run the car charger cable to your cigarette lighter, and power it up. Even when the unit is in use, the battery is being charged if it is plugged in - a little like a mobile phone would be.
The unit comes equipped with street level mapping for the whole of Western and Northern Europe. This is where the unit differs from other sat-nav kits. I have never come across another one where this amount of mapping in included for free. Other maps are available for sale over the Internet, and they are very easy to install. If you install the CD-Rom into your computer, it automatically runs and installs software onto your computer. My connecting your sat-nav with the supplied USB cable, maps can be added and removed without any problems. Software updates can also be downloaded and added to your sat-nav very easily.
The software on the computer takes a little while to get your head around, but the help files are very comprehensive and after a little while, it becomes second nature.
Now we get onto the nitty-gritty of what this Navman actually does. The main menu contains the following options, which describe everything very well.
- go to - - - this is the first option. By selecting this option, a route is planned from where you are now to any point of your choice. You can select a destination by "My Home" which you can preset and change at any time by using another one of the menus called Preferences. You can also select destination by "Address or POI". POI means point of interest, and this can mean anything from a castle to a petrol station. You can select "Favourites", which are also changeable very easily, and "Recent" which lists all recent destinations. Like I said before, it is very easy to use.
The address option brings up another menu. You can select a destination by town, street, postcode or point of interest in any country, just so long as it is installed. For example, I recently was meeting somebody in north wales, at the junction of two roads. My sat-nav was able to select this exact intersection very quickly and very easily.
- map - - - this displays the map on the main screen. The map is actually the default display at all times, as it is usually what you will need to see. You can orientate the map to point north the whole time, or to go in the direction you are facing. A compass needle in the top right of the screen shows you where north is, although like most things on the sat-nav, this is also changeable.
- multi-stop trip - - - If you are going on a journey with more than one destination, maybe for deliveries or something else along these lines, this is the option for you. You can add destinations in the middle of your trip, set waypoints, and update it at any time at all.
- preferences - - - Here, you can change almost every option you will ever need, and more. You can change the voice of the person speaking to you, giving you directions, or even switch off the voice altogether. You can change routing options, such as taking the quickest route, or the route avoiding motorways. You can change map options, set up safety alerts which stop you using the sat-nav while you are driving (which incidentally is illegal), look at the GPS status and see which satellites you are receiving, change your measurements from miles to kilometres, change the language, and much more.
- traffic - - - This option is only displayed if you have the optional traffic module installed. I will talk about this in the next section.
- route information - - - Here, you can look over your route, view a list of instructions, such as turn left/right, see a summary of the route including estimated distance and time for your journey, and you can cancel your whole route here too and start again.
There are also some important features which have their own buttons on the front of the device. There is a one touch button to find the nearest petrol station, and the nearest car park. Ideal if you are somewhere you don't know. There are also buttons to move around maps, zoom in and out, and view your list of instructions. There is a button which takes you to the menu, and an escape button for the times you go wrong!
**OPTIONAL TRAFFIC MODULE**
Driving on the roads that I do, for example the M25, it was essential that I purchased the optional traffic module. It clips on the back of the windscreen mount, and is really small in size. It uses the same power supply as the module, connected with a small cable, which is all supplied with the module.
The module picks up radio signals through a normal small aerial, and translates the traffic news into alerts on the sat-nav. If there is traffic on your route, you are advised of it, along with a description of what the problem is. Then, using the 'traffic' option from the main menu, you can choose to avoid the traffic, and the device recalculates another route.
For me, this is an option which is well worth getting hold of.
A sat-nav with this many features, maps, and functions does not come cheap. I went to Halfords, and bought it for £599. With a bit of bartering, I managed to get the traffic module thrown in for free, but I believe it would have cost approximately £30. Unlike some kits, this is the total price. There is no subscription costs. The traffic module has unlimited use for no extra cost at all. This in itself is quite a bit money saving from some other kits.
With all this technology in one little box, there are bound to be problems. So far, the only problems I have found are minor ones, but they are still there. The first to mention is the GPS signal. At the start of your journey, it can take a little longer than some other kits to acquire a GPS signal, sometimes up to a minute. I would prefer this to be a matter of seconds, but then again, maybe I expect too much! While you are driving though, the kit manages to keep the signal extremely well.
The traffic module has one drawback to it, which is that it doesn't work on battery power. Your kit needs to be connected to the car power source. Also, if you connect it to the power source after you have started your journey, it sometimes still doesn't manage to start up correctly, meaning you have to close down the whole kit and start again. To solve this problem, I make sure I am plugged in at all times while I am driving. Avoid the cause of the problem and you don't have a problem!
I would recommend the Navman iCN 550 to you. Although not necessarily the cheapest option, it is so comprehensive that to me it is worth the extra money. Despite one or two minor problems, it is easy to use, and does exactly what you want it to.
Thank you for reading my review.
The iCN 550 is simple to use, packed full of clever features and comes with comprehensive 3D European maps pre-installed for seamless cross-border continental travel.
The iCN 550 has "Fuel and Park" buttons to allow you to quickly find the closest petrol station or car park.