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Navigon 2100 Max GPS Device

At a Glance
  • Navigon 2100 Max

    PCWorld Rating

A good portable GPS device is like a good passenger on a road trip: helpful, not too annoying, and low maintenance. The Navigon 2100 Max succeeds at the first two: It will get you to your destination without overloading you with superfluous information. Unfortunately, in my tests the unit was a bit sluggish and its interface wasn't always intuitive.

The $299 2100 Max is an upgrade of Navigon's $200 entry-level 2100 GPS unit, which the company launched last year. It sports a sleek, thin design and a 4.3-inch wide screen in place of the original device's 3.5-inch screen. It ships with a 1GB SD Card preloaded with Navigon's maps and a fairly comprehensive points-of-interest database.

Once you begin navigating, the 2100 Max provides sensible directions and alerts you to impending turns well in advance. It reroutes you when necessary, without making a federal case out of the altered route. On some occasions when I was rerouted, however, I noticed sluggishness; once, for example, the 2100 Max had me sitting in a parking lot wondering which way to turn while it caught up.

A bigger issue is the device's usability. Entering information on the touch screen can be difficult, as some of the buttons are too close to the edge of the device and in some instances fail to register taps. At times the touch screeen acknowledged my taps but didn't react to them until after I had already tried again, so I ended up entering info twice. Still, the device's home screen is nicely laid out, presenting you with four options: New Destination, My Destinations, Take Me Home, and Show Map. When you touch New Destination, you have the choice of entering an address or searching for a point of interest (POI). The POI database is impressive, listing a number of locations even in my relatively small town. If you enter an address, you can input the street first or the city first--but neither option works in a sensible way. Both alternatives require you to enter the street name before the address number, which I never got used to.

The 4.3-inch screen's extra real estate is welcome, especially if you take advantage of Navigon's Reality View feature (also included on the original 2100), which offers a 3D view of the road you're traveling on--complete with the actual text of any road signs--so you can see whether you're in the right place and following the relevant directions. Though this feature can be extremely helpful, it's more suitable for use by a passenger than for the driver, who may end up more distracted than edified.

New to the 2100 Max is the Lane Assistant feature, which indicates (via arrows on the screen) the lane you need to be in to make a future turn. Again, it's a handy tool, but one that can draw the driver's attention dangerously away from the road.

For additional navigation assistance, you can sign up for Navigon's $79 FreshMaps service, which is good for up to 12 map and POI database updates over three years. For a one-time fee of $99, you can purchase open-ended access to Navigon's traffic-reporting service.

The Navigon 2100 Max sits in the middle ground of GPS devices: It includes all of the basics, and it lets you add desired extras for a fee. Even with the extras, however, it omits some features--such as Bluetooth connectivity and FM transmission--that more-expensive units offer. It's not as cheap as some entry-level devices, and it can be confusing to use, but the 2100 Max will lead you to your destination-with the help of some nifty navigation aides. Just don't get distracted by the eye-catching  visual presentation.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This device will get you where you're going--if you can tolerate its quirks.

    Pros

    • Reality View shows roads as they actually look
    • Sleek design and nice display

    Cons

    • Touch screen can be difficult to use
    • Interface isn't intuitive
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