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This unit is rather old now, although still available second hand. I would however be rather wary, as in my experience it was plagued with problems.
On the positive side the intergrated GPS works well, and makes an ideal sat nav PDA combo. The Destinator Lite software that came with the unit whilst being functional was rather as the name suggests light in the features department.
When I got my unit it was only £99+VAT, so was a bit of a bargain I thought. And it has done well when it hasn't been broken. The battery life is sufficient for most things, although don't expect to be able to have a full day on the hills using this as a GPS, as it will run out. I seemed to always forget to keep mine charged up when not using it, so had to reinstal all the software, luckily the backup restore works well so this only takes a few mins as long as you remember to make a back up in the first place!
The screen is OK, nothing flash, and not amazing resolution, but at this price that wasn't really a problem.
My problems with the unit mostly surrounded the internal speaker, which on three occasions stopped working. This was rather problematic if using it as a sat nav as you couldn't hear the instructions!
There is also no wireless internet connectivity, which means you need a wireless SD card, downside with this is it takes up the SD slot so you can't download or upload any files of worth without getting a combined wireless/memory card which is rather expensive.
I bought this product in Spain. This new PDA has all the benefits of a high quality handheld; although the price is a little expensive. If you plan to buy a PDA, and do not desire to buy the more expensive ACER N50 PREMIUM, this is your product.
The manual is very easy to read; all the explanations are sought to be understandable by every user, even the novice ones.
Although, the battery does not last longer than you think.
ACER N35 GPS HANDHELD POCKET CHAUFFEUR
My darling hubby bought me this about a month ago now, he was concerned as I have to travel around the West Midlands to different Spiritualist Churches, worried that I might loose my way when I travelled on my own, so he bought me a sat. nav.
I'm afraid I am not a techno buff, so this will be my experience of using the Satellite Navigation System not the technical side.
*** OUR SEARCH ***
We had been looking around on the internet, shops and reading reviews on Ciao, but most of them were well over our price range and I have to say all the specifications did not mean a thing to me. So two brain dead adults, when it comes to the technical side went looking for a Satellite Navigation System. We decided between us that we wanted a product that was a) within our budget, b) got us from A to B, c) came with in car set up and d) we felt it needed to have a decent size memory, we don't know why but thought it would be better. (See told you we don't know much techie stuff - lol).
We saw the Acer N35 on the Argos web site and due to what looked like good specifications and the attractive price of £249.99 we went ahead with our purchase.
We felt from reading the following specifications that this was a fantastic price (please don't tell me you got it cheaper now, he, he).
The Specifications on offer for the deal:
256SD-card with Destinator 3 GPS Navigation mapping software, which is pre-installed with GB and Ireland. Also another disc with maps of Europe.
Microsoft Windows mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC Premium Edition (this must be the software that lets my hubby play Solitaire on it).
266MHz Samsung processor.
64MB SDRAM for applications and storage, 32MB flash memory for OS and embedded applications.
3.5in TFT LCD display with (65,536 colours) with 240 x 320 (QVGA) resolution (lost me now).
SD/MMC expansion slot with SDIO feature, compliant with SDIO Now!
Built-in mic and speaker
3.5mm stereo earphone jack
4-way directional pad
4 quick launch buttons - Today, Calendar, Contacts and Inbox
Microsoft Media Player MP3 player
Standalone time 8 hours
Includes USB sync cable, AC adaptor kit, AC Charger, Car Charger and cover.
Wireless connectivity via IrDA (infrared)
Download from the internet if connected to PC/notebook via USB.
Send and receive email if connected to PC/notebook.
Well I don't know what you think, but after reading the above spec. which half of it I admit to not understanding, we were suitably impressed so went ahead and purchased our new toy.
*** HOW IT LOOKS ***
It is sexy and sleek, fits nicely in your hand, approx. 5in (12.5cm) long, just under 3in (is 7cm) in width and approx. just under 1in (is 2cm) thick. Silver casing with a black surround around the screen, with 5 buttons on the bottom, 1st button has a picture of a house on it and takes you straight to the start menu. 2nd button has a picture of a calendar on it takes you to your diary, the centre button is your mouse and moves you around the screen, 4th button has a picture of an address book and is the quick link to your contacts and finally the last button has a picture of a letter which takes you directly to your inbox for email. The screen is a LCD Touch screen and a little stylus pen is provided to use with the screen.
On the left hand side of your mini computer there is a scroll button and an on\off button.
On the bottom you a socket the hard reset switch, a 26 pin connector (where you push your connector in to charge it up) and a soft reset switch.
On the right hand side you have a spot where an external antenna connector can be fitted.
On the top the mic, the stylus and holder, memory card and the socket for earphones.
On the rear is the antenna for your GPS.
That's quite a lot for such a compact gadget.
Apart from that you have all your accessories to get you up and running, as mentioned in the list earlier you have two disc's one with mapping for GB and Ireland and the other for Europe.
The car holder is rather big, it has a suction pad and clip so you place it where you want it to go on your windscreen, press the clip and hey presto it stays there, release the clip to get it off and no marks left on the windscreen. It has a stiff but flexible tube that takes you to the Acer N35 holder, this enables you to position it comfortably for viewing the screen, the holder itself is just a little bigger than the handheld pc which you can expand and contract for taking it in and out with ease, has a cut off section at the bottom so you can plug in your in car charger.
**** SETTING UP ****
Well I have stated that we are not the brightest when it comes to computer setting up, I would prefer to have an expert at hand. My hubby bless him, set up Acer N35 himself at work and left the computer stuff to me.
Firstly you need to activate your Acer N35 and you do this by moving a tiny switch on the bottom right of your system - you move the switch to the right, this is a little stiff.
Now that done you insert your SD card into the slot on the top of your set, the software then installs itself automatically and takes a short while. The instructions to warn you not to remove the memory card during the installation process.
Well according to the manual that is all set up.
Onto the installation of the software: Provided are two mapping discs and I product disc for your Acer, this has easy to follow instructions on the screen to help you follow. I will say I found these easier to follow than the instruction guidelines that came with the package, as the instructions in the packet did seem to contradict each other. So personally I would advise to go by the disc, or at least one of you set it all up, rather than two people with very little knowledge both doing different sections of the set up, we didn't have too many problems, but because the instructions had not been followed and we had two chiefs here unsure of themselves, we ended up having to phone a friend (how pathetic are we, he, he). Hubby never did tell me where we, or him, or myself went wrong, but everything is working fine now.
*** SOFTWARE ***
GPS Navigation Software
Pocket Internet Explorer
Windows Media Player 9.0 for Pocket PC
Terminal Services Client
Microsoft Reader for Pocket Pc
Microsoft Active sync
Back-up/restore utility and system info.
Oh and don't forget games - jawbreaker and solitaire.
We haven't tried all of the above apart from the Navigation system (which I will tell you about) and solitaire.
**** THE NAVIGATION SYSTEM ****
Now I am all set up to try out my new Sat Nav, it's all very exciting. Knowing how important it was for me to get do my destination as I was doing a service in Coventry, so I took my AA auto route and my daughter with me on its first outing.
Right we are in the car, we have put the holder in a suitable position and now to set our destination into the Acer. Oh don't forget to lift the antenna up at the back of the Acer as this is what picks the signal from the 7 satellites.
Turn it on (button on top on the left hand side), armed now with my little stylus wand I press the start button, a drop down menu comes up, but the bit I want is just above that and has a triangle and what looks like a protractor, anyway that's the button that takes me into the Destinator package. Button pressed I wait for it to load, it's loaded and you are presented with the user agreement so with my wand I press I agree to the conditions. Now we have a map of my location, on the bottom of the screen are three options, Destinate, View and Options.
I choose Destinate and up pops another screen with choices of address, poi, favourites, history, contacts, trip planner, avoid roads, cancel route. Well this is my first time and I just want to get us there, so address is pressed, the screen you are presented with now is an a-z of towns/cities, on the bottom of the screen you have more options, navigate, show, tools and a little picture of a keypad, it is the keypad that you need to press. Armed with your little wand you spell out the town you are heading for, with each letter the town names listed in the background will scroll down to match the letters you are typing in, once you have located the town you are going to, highlight it and press the option on the top of the screen for the street and repeat the process. Your next option if has a house number is to choose the number.
Right you have now chosen your destination, you now need to go to the bottom of your screen and press navigation. You know you have done it right if a voice says 'Have a safe journey'.
(There is also a speeding option available which tells you that you are over the speed limit).
Don't panic I won't talk you through the whole journey, but the voice on the Acer will, she (yes it is a female voice) starts informing you on suburban roads around 500yds prior to junctions, islands etc what direction to take, she then reminds you around 200yds (which is great if you are chatting away as you know to stop talking for a couple of mins. to here the next instruction), she also repeats the instruction at the junction. On motorways she starts to tell you a couple of miles away from your exit giving you chance to get out of the fast lane and into the correct lane for turning off. She even tells you which exit at the roundabout to take. So you feel safe especially if you are driving on your own to get to your destination without getting lost.
**** EXPERIENCE ****
On the first occasion of using the Acer N35, we had the speed warnings switched on. An irritating voice came over the air saying we were over the speed limit on the A442, now I know the A442 is an extremely long road with varying speed limits, but that is about 30miles away from me and the stretch I was on goes to the maximum of 70mph and I was only doing 60 mph. So she was starting to annoy me. In its defence this, to my knowledge is the only time it had got the speed limit wrong.
Well this was the first time I have used her and I can switch that mode off if I wish too, so I forgave her this time. I really tested her on this first journey, my daughter was armed with the AA auto route and we checked everything she said against that and she was spot on, when we got nearer to Coventry she went a different way to AA auto route so we decided to trust the Sat Nav and she got us there great. No problems at all.
During the return journey we had torrential rain, and it was rush hour. I don't know if it was the heavy rain, I can on assume it was, the navigational instructions were delayed and by the time she told me to take an exit we had missed it, we ended up taking nearly an hour going round in circles around Coventry centre, so we used a bit of common sense and followed a road sign giving the Acer change to reposition itself and locate us again. We also pushed her to her limits and took the M6 Toll road as we were really fed up and just wanted to get home, so the system had to keep repositioning, it did try hard to make us go the route it wanted us to take, but we ignored it.
We have used it to get us to different places since and the weather was better, with great success, it even showed us routes we were not aware of which were a lot quicker.
**** CONCLUSION ****
I think it's great I am, a brilliant map reader if I say so myself, I just can't remember the route I've read if I am on my own, so this gives me confidence to get me to my destination and back. I also like the way it will reposition itself, if you decide to take a different route along your journey. I will say though you do need to use your common sense, especially down long winding country roads (have a lot of them by me), it will tell you to take a right or left turn and this will just be a sharp bend in the road. So glance at the map when you get an instruction so you don't end up down some road leading to a farm or something. Remember it is like AA auto route it will not always have new changes on that have recently been done, like a new roundabout, new roads etc. This is especially noticeable on roundabouts, where a turning has been added or taken away.
Would I recommend this product, most definitely yes, I feel a lot happier when setting out on any journey now and I get there a lot quicker too.
I have rated this 4/5 because I feel the written instructions for a novice confuse you a litte. The instructions on the disc are fantastic and easy to follow. Also because the signal goes low, causing slight delays in severe weather conditions.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
Having messed around with some basic GPS tools, I fancied the idea of a PDA/GPS combo to get some colour mapping and route finding software. Looking around in January 2005, the Acer N35 seemed to be well priced at under £300, and I liked the idea of the integrated GPS rather than the separate GPS units included with some packages.
The unit itself is nicely built, with a bright sharp screen. It came as part of a generous bundle including Destinator 3 navigation software, and a car mount and car charger. The handheld itself doesn't have quite as high a specification as others, for example no bluetooth, but as I wanted it mostly for the GPS capability, and the lack of extras kept the price down, this hasn't worried me too much.
The Destinator software isn't bad, but having since used the TomTom Navigator software, Destinator does seem rather basic in comparison. It also runs rather slowly on the N35. Route planning seems generally good, but it has been noted by many that Destinator can give confusing directions on roundabouts. TomTom, especially the newer versions seem to run rather faster, and are a slicker package all round. The biggest problem on the GPS front has been the time it sometimes takes to aquire a GPS signal. Sometimes, it will pick up satellites very easily, but others it has taken up to 10 minutes to get a fix, which is very frustrating, and there seems to be no reason or remedy.
The biggest problem has been the unreliability of the unit. About a month after taking delivery, I had started to experiment with some freeware Pocket PC applications. Among these was a Gameboy emulator, which incidentally ran very well, and is a lot of fun. However, in using it, I noticed that one of the hardware buttons on the N35 needed a lot of pressure to operate. This wouldn't usually be a problem, as it only opens the calendar application in normal use. However using the Gameboy emulator, it was really spoiling my game of golf. I called Acer who advised that the unit would need to be sent back. They arranged for a courier to pick it up, and gave me an estimate of one week for the repair.
I contacted Acer via email after being without the unit for two weeks, and received a reply that wasn't quite in English telling me that they were awaiting a new main board and top case to repair the unit, but had no ETA for the parts. I got the same reply after three weeks, and after four weeks (by which time Acer had had the handheld for longer than I had!). The day after my final email however, and despite Acer apparently still not knowing how long they would be waiting for parts, the handheld arrived back on my doorstep.
All was well for about three months, until the screen started to act up. Firstly it took on an occasional purple tint. This went away if the case was given a light squeeze, but started to appear more frequently. After a while the screen started to occasionally blank out altogether, and when it was visible, had the purple tint all the time.
I called Acer again, and got the unit picked up again. This time, the unit was picked up on a Thursday, and actually delivered back to me on the Monday, having arrived at Acer, been repaired, and returned to me all on the Friday. The machine had again had a new main board fitted. However I soon noticed that the unit could not keep time any more, and discovered that when the hatch for the GPS antenna was closed (as it needs to be any time GPS is not actually being used) the unit's clock simply stopped. I have no idea how a PC clock can just stop, but at the moment, it looks like this is harware related yet again, and I am likely to have to return the unit for a third time.
So, it seems like a nice item, but the build quality, and quality of service and repairs is shocking - there's clearly a disadvantage to turning a repair around within six hours. Overall, I could not possibly recommend the Acer N35 to anyone.
As expected, the PDA has again been recalled for repair by Acer with the clock problem. It also seemed to be taking a very long time to lock onto satellites. I had the opportunity to compare my PDA to an identical model. Mine got a GPS signal in 30 minutes, the other PDA locked in less than a minute - somthing else to be fixed. I'll update again when the machine is returned from its third repair with Acer.