November 14, 2006

Review: Delphi NAV200

The Delphi NAV200 is an affordable GPS that recently came onto the market with some quality features that allow you to get to where you’re going. The small form factor is appealing and the use of the SiRF star III chipset is a mark of quality for pulling in the sometimes-tough satellite signals. The unit has a lot of features in this little package, including navigation, media player capability (movie/MP3), photo viewer, as well as packing in a reverse game, a calculator and a world clock. In my use, the unit provided sound directions and navigation, never getting me lost, but there were some user interface concerns and some usability things that were concerning.

Design Delphi Nav200
The Design of the Delphi NAV200 is smooth and has a nice fit and finish. Some other entry-level models have some fit and finish issues but this one doesn’t seem to. On the left side of the screen there are two buttons, top one is a Menu button that takes you out to the main menu, while the bottom one is a power button that allows the unit to sleep. On the right side of the screen there are two button a “+” and a “-“ which allow you to zoom in and out at any time. These buttons have some subtle blue illumination to keep them visible at night. The bottom of the unit has the SD card slot, while the right side has a volume dial at the top, the TMC traffic antenna input and finally the DC in jack. On the left side of the device, you see the “[ear]phone” jack, and the power button. The back has the flip up antenna and the mounting slots for the windshield mount. There are also two speakers on the back side of the unit. The antenna has an external antenna jack also.

DelphiNav200mainnavimenu.jpgOnce at the main menu, you can tap the “Navigation” icon to come into the navigation section of the unit, but not before you click “I accept” on the legal document where the lawyers warn of accident dangers if you use your GPS while driving.

Once you are “in” navigation, there is a lot to do. The Navigation menu has a house icon in the upper right corner that allows you to quickly navigate to your home. The main navigation button at the top of the menu is where you will do most of your work. Tap on that and you pull up the option of navigating to: an Address, a Point of Interest (POI), select the location on the Map, Recent Destinations and Favorites. If you tap on the address list, a dialogue comes up that allows you to pick an address. The keyboard is small, which makes you want to use the included stylus to tap out the town. The database is robust, but I had to wade through the towns outside my state. The hierarchy is a bit odd, and I am not actually sure what the hierarchy is, but it’s not always easy to use. You are able to go on and pick a street address, or intersection in the screen and start navigating there at the tap of a button. You can also check the location on the map, and save it as a favorite.

When navigating, I found the voice prompts plenty loud and helpful. They gave me appropriate warnings of turns without being annoying and gave me the turn command with sufficient warning that I was still coming up to a turn. Also worth noting is that the internal battery gave me about 4-5 hours of use without the power cord.

Point of Interest Navigation
DelphiNav200POINavigate.jpgYou can navigate to points of interest, selecting let’s say a gas station within a certain radius of your current location. You can select 1,3,5, or 10-mile radius, and then move on to pick your gas station. Again, you can navigate there with the click of a button. I do have to say that if you select the “Map” button, you are sent to the map page, but then you need to work your way back down to the POI search page to get to navigate to that location. You are also able to search POI categories nationwide, or in a browsed city. A similar dialogue starts with each as you would imagine; what are you looking for, where, and then get a list back and navigate there. I will say that the POI database seems to be fairly up to date. Up here in the Northeast, they add Dunkin’ Doughnuts like crazy (it’s scary), and this GPS has the latest local one that has only been open less than a year.

You can also browse the map to pick a location to navigate to. This is something I resorted to when I had a hard time finding a town in the list of towns. It was easier to scroll through a map and tap on the location that I wanted to go to.

Recent finds and favorites are a good listing to have to hit some often-traveled locations, as the buttons are obvious and helpful.

Route Planning – Advanced Navigation
Route planning is just a fancy way of talking about multi-destination navigation. The unit will allow you to pick destinations and navigate from one to another. This is a nice capability. To be clear, it won’t offer you smart navigation optimizing your route to minimize time, but a nice touch anyway. Once you have your route in, you can save it as an itinerary.

There are several settings that allow you to configure the device to help you get the most out of it. The first is User Mode, which allows you to choose “Standard”, and “Extended”. The extended mode allows you to do more with the product, like navigate to multiple destinations for example. When you do pick “Standard” you get a shorter menu within the navigation area that doesn’t make sense. When you get in, you are forced to go through navigation or recent destinations to see a map. You can’t actually just drive and see where you are going, which is sometimes the mode I operate in. Keep it in Extended and you can just view the map.

Routing Options gives you the opportunity to pick the vehicle type (car, bike, pedestrian), fastest or shortest route, and then route preferences that allows you to navigate on interstates, ferries and toll ways. Time zone is in here, as well as the time format (12 v. 24hrs), and the distance measure (mi vs. km). This is also the location where you set your home address for navigation “home” whenever you want to.

Map Page
Once you get to a map page, you can toggle several setting icons on and off. With the icons on, however, the map gets pretty small, as you are lined on 3 sides with space or buttons. The icons allow you to navigate with North up or direction traveling up. It allows you to access navigation or flip from 2D to 3D views. Nicely enough the unit does show your elevation as you are navigating, something that I like to have as I navigate through the mountains of New England. You can elect to turn the information like elevation and speed off within the settings area. The unit is also set up to show you POI’s on the map as you pass them if you would like. Finally if you want to enter Night Mode, you can elect to do it in the settings menu also, once in the map page. I thought that the unit was sufficiently bright, but it did wash out in absolutely direct sunlight.

Main Menu Settings
So the Main Menu is where you land when you turn the unit on as the default. I would quickly change that though. When you are here, you get to choose Navigation, Music, Movie, Picture, Game, Calculator, World Clock, and Settings. Once in settings, you can calibrate the touchscreen, adjust the LCD brightness, and select the opening screen. Pick navigation to save a wasted stop at the main menu on your way to the navigation guts anyway. In the configuration menu you can also select different sounds that play when you touch buttons, etc.

Other Items
Playing music isn’t hard, pop in an SD card and play away. The issue is that since you just popped out the map data, you can’t navigate. The same thing happens with the movie capability, and photo viewer. You do have the option of buying a larger SD card, moving maps to it and then adding in your music and photos so that they are on one card. The reverse game is fun, the world clock may be helpful and the calculator can help out if your mobile phone doesn’t already serve this purpose.

Windshield Mount
The windshield mount is a flexi-arm style mount that attaches firmly to the windshield with a lever cam locking mechanism. The GPS fits firmly into the cradle, but it is not a natural and easy process that is done blindly. There are two small buttons on the backside of the mount that need to be pushed simultaneously to release the GPS, which can be a challenge to do one handed. I am not a huge fan of these flexi-arm mounts due to the natural vibration tendencies of them. DelphiNav200backview.jpgThis sets you up for subtle vibration, which makes some finer points on the map hard to read, especially on a small screen. A work around is to have the unit also rest on the dash to keep vibration to a minimum.

Review Summary – Delphi NAV200
Overall, the Delphi NAV200 gets you from here to there and does so in a sound fashion. The unit is small and highly portable. There are some user interface issues, as it is small and iconized, which makes it tough to use sometimes and not always intuitive. I did get over this learning curve and found that I could get through the menus quite well. Some of the hierarchy of the menus is not as user friendly as I had hoped for, so you may spend a lot of down time looking up destinations and POI’s while tapping away with the stylus. So, it does take a while to get moving with this and there are several shortfalls that make this a little harder to use than other products, but it will navigate you there and back with confidence.

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Posted by Scott Martin at November 14, 2006 3:15 PM

Recent Comments

We have bought multiple ones and all of them have broken. Delphi won't fix them if the warranty is gone and you have to pay almost half of the original cost for a map update. Terrble deal. Dont buy!!!!

Posted by: Nick at December 29, 2009 4:53 PM

dont buy
dont but
when the warranty is gone
the gps is gone
now a paper wt
any takers
if the button on any of screen is gray then the unit is corrupt and its a paper wt and delphia will do nothing about it.

so buyers beware dont be mad like me at the crappy service you get later.

check my twitter

Posted by: michael at September 20, 2009 7:04 PM
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