capsule review

Fine Digital FineDrive 400

At a Glance
  • Fine Digital FineDrive 400 Portable In-Car Navigation System

    PCWorld Rating

Fine Digital FineDrive 400
Photograph: Rick Rizner

I've owned half a dozen MP3 players over the past few years, so the built-in digital music player in Fine Digital's $500 (street) FineDrive 400 GPS device caught my attention immediately.

My verdict after using this product: Its digital music capability is not a good reason to buy it. Unlike the Lowrance iWay (which I also looked at for our recent roundup of GPS devices), the FineDrive can't simultaneously play music and provide voice directions. And while the product works well enough as a navigation aide, some design shortcomings limit its usefulness.

Looking up addresses and services was relatively easy, but even on the 4-inch display (the largest in the roundup), the on-screen alphanumeric keys were too small to permit accurate typing with my largish fingers. That might be why the device comes with a small plastic stylus; unfortunately, there's nowhere to store it.

With visual cues and a speaker for loud, clear voice prompts, the FineDrive's turn-by-turn navigation got me everywhere I wanted to go, though one of the routes it directed me on was a much slower path than I'd normally take. Also, my position on the digital map seemed a bit behind my true location, a lag that was especially noticeable when I passed through intersections. Finally, the map graphics, while perfectly readable, seemed a bit cruder than those of competing devices.

The FineDrive 400 comes with an SD Card preloaded with maps of the 48 contiguous states and Canada, including millions of points of interest, a windshield suction-cup mount, and a power cable that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter. The unit's color LCD touch screen is bright and easy to read.

The FineDrive 400 provides workable, if not particularly elegant, GPS navigation. But it's pointless as a digital music player for the road.

Tracey Capen

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Large display, MP3 player

    Cons

    • small on-screen keys, no battery
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