March 27, 2007

Via Michelin X-930 Review

ViaMichelinX930.jpg

-A Review by GPSLodge-

I have been driving around with the Via Michelin X-930 for a several weeks now and it’s about time I got back and wrote a review up on this entry-level device. The Via Michelin X-930 is in expensive but has some impressive characteristics for that low price.

" The Via Michelin X-930 is a decent first step in the US market, which I expect will not be their last."
While the SiRF star III chipset is fairly common in GPS units these days, the Via Michelin goes beyond this with a very thin profile and light device (4.8 x 2.8 x 0.7 inches and weighs in at about 4.9 ounces) that has a fit and finish that is pretty good. It’s got a 3.5-inch screen in a widescreen format. The design is straight forward, refined beyond its entry-level status, and it slips easily into your pocket.

After a couple of weeks behind the wheel, with the unit, I have to say that I never got lost, and the unit got me to where I was going with solid directions and good turn indications. The unit does not have text to speech capability, but few at this price point do.

Update: Even more information on the Via Michelin X-930

Design
As I previously said the design is well done on the Via Michelin X-930 GPS unit. On the left side of the screen you will find two volume buttons, and below those, you will find a small speaker, that is loud enough in all but the noisiest situations. At the top end of its volume range it does tend to get tinny sounding, but for 90% of my use, it was good.

Down the right side of the screen the unit has a “Home” button that takes you back to the main menu for the unit. Second, a “History” button of your recent destinations, which allows you to navigate back to things quickly. The third button gets you to a satellite status screen (not sure your need a button dedicated to this though), while the bottom button is a POI button.

Across the top of the unit, you have the SD card slot where you’ll put the included mapping data SD card. Sorry MP3 fans, no player on this unit; I didn’t miss it. There is a lock/unlock slider and finally the on/off switch. The unit ships with a stylus that locks into the right side, and it has a mini-USB plug on the bottom to charge the unit with the included 12V plug or via the wall charger. It will also charge via the computer.


Windshield Mounting

ViaMichelinX930Mount.jpg

I usually comment on the windshield mount, and typically look for one-handed operation with quick mounting to the windshield and mounting of the GPS onto the holder. This is not a make-or-break kind of item, but trust me if you are parking where you need to take this off your windshield a few times a day, you want this an easy operation. The mounting arm for the Via Michelin itself is an interesting design, just looking at it. In use, things get tough, as you need to hold the suction cup against the windshield and crank the domed knob to get it to adhere. Others use a cam action lever to enact the suction cup, which is fast compared to this. The second part of the mount that is a bit tough to use is just mounting the GPS onto the arm and taking it off. With practice the X-930 goes on OK, but taking it off is definitely a two handed operation to hold the tab and slide the GPS up off the mount.

Getting Started

I will say that the X-930 was fast to get going out of the garage in the morning, and on occasion I need to get out and get going, punching in a destination while going down the driveway and waiting for the satellites to lock in later. I also had the chance to put the X-930 side-by-side with the Mio C310x, and the Via Michelin X-930 beat the Mio a couple of times in fixing on a satellite from a “cold start”, where the units had been off for more that a day or two. Now from a warm start, where I stopped at a store and came back out and turned them both on, the Mio and the Via Michelin were about the same.

Navigation
This is the heart of it all, right, if it does well with navigation, that’s a good thing. Well, the X-930 does do well with navigation, but its operating system is a bit rough around the edges and I would like another level of refinement on it. There are just a few things that make navigating the operating system tough. In turning on a Garmin (Yes, at sometimes four times the price, I know), you are presented with two main options: “View Map” and “Where to?” The Via Michelin does give you navigation options, and allows you to plan out multi-stop itineraries, but doesn’t give you a plain old “view map” screen without punching up a few buttons. A lot of times, I want to see the map first, drive and then program in later…. While these are navigation devices, I think that the units need a plain old map screen to be complete.

You are presented with “Navigate to”, “Plan your Journey” and “Settings” as your primary options. Settings will allow you to access a fairly straightforward listing of options to choose from including navigation settings (3D view, Night Mode, Display Fields when navigating, Vehicle Type, Quickest Route, etc.).

“Navigate to”
You get several choices here which is a pretty good, complete list: Address, POI, On Map, Saved, History, Co-ordinates. Under the address, the routine is to search on the state, then town, and street. The unit does not predict based off of narrowing down the towns, let’s say, as you type, but instead lets you enter and then searches afterwards. This can slow things down a bit. Nicely enough, when going back in the unit remembers the last state you searched on so you can skip that step (you can always re-pick a state if you are going somewhere else). The unit also offers “Town Centre” (“Centre” – a hint that this is a Euro based interface and that it needs a bit more polish for the US as Via Michelin establishes itself) instead of a street choice. This is a good feature, and one I would want more GPS units to have, as you can roughly navigate to a town from a long ways away if you just need to get in the area…. Honestly there are times when I don’t really know an address, but I know how to get there visually and getting to the town center is what I need.

The POI section is categorized into a short 7-item list of categories that allow you to pick quickly. The POI data are fairly up to date and accurate. I would like to see a “Shopping” main category, which I would imagine, would be a frequently used list for consumers. I like to use my GPS to find stores or businesses near my current location while on the road, and a top category would speed that search up.

Saved addresses and History are easy aids to getting you to frequently used locations. There are no “Home” or “Work” top-level shortcuts, but you can save these addresses and quickly get to them under the saved addresses category. The top-level icons are something I’d like to see in the next refinement.

GPS Coordinates search is a good addition and one that is a lot more common than a year ago. I welcome it as a GPS enthusiast, and have had to navigate to a “non-address” along rural roads where I only have the LAT/LON coordinates to guide me.

On Map – choosing locations on the map is a logical addition, but a bit slow moving around and actually tapping the locations on the map.

Settings
You can configure this unit with typical customization. On Route settings allow you to choose car or pedestrian settings, while more limited than others, it does include a much sought after pedestrian setting. You can also select settings between “Shorter” and Quicker” routing, but not to avoid tolls, or U-turns. You can select Day and Night settings which effectively dims the current color scheme; although not automatically.

“Warner” - In the POI category, you can get very specific as to what you want to get warnings on. So, you could get warnings on Rest Areas – a subcategory of “Auto” which might help you along the way.

Plan Journey
Route planning allows you to plan a route that is not dependent on your current location. This allows you to plan journeys that you are considering in the future and can be a big help. Not all GPS systems allow you to plan routes in this fashion where your start point is NOT your current location.

In Use
The Via Michelin X-930 in use gives you good routing and voice prompts, giving you confidence to get where you need to go. You can configure the navigation screen fields to give you data on several items, time to destination, distance, etc. The maps are solid, and I didn’t find issues when I used the unit. The POI database was acceptable but not luxuriously large as you might see in more costly units. When out in the sun, the glossy screen does have a higher tendency to be reflective and tough to read. Via Michelin has added a nice visual cue when coming to turns on major roads including a white writing on green background that mimic our major road signs. The similarity to our road signs makes the cue more intuitive. The only issue is that this takes up a big amount of vertical real estate on the screen. On the shorter and wider 16:9 ratio wide screen; that hurts the map display; it feels small. This happens when navigating to a destination.

Review Summary
The Via Michelin X-930 is a decent first step in the US market, which I expect will not be their last. The low price point is certainly alluring. The navigation and maps are solid; I didn’t come across issues mentioned in other older reviews. The user interface could use another revision; I’d like to see a few top/higher level buttons to get me a plain map view and navigate to “Home”. It’s clear that Via Michelin is aware enough of consumer needs to bring a GPS to the market at a low price with some intuitive visual cues such as the white on green road signs; I would imagine that they will continue to improve for this market.

It’s always tough to make the value call for you, so I won’t. I know that readers are weighing the Via Michelin X-930 vs. the Mio C310x right now, and I will frame the decision for you:

Maps:
X-930 – Solid - NAVTEQ
C310X – Weak older TeleAtlas, but upgraded solid TeleAtlas maps this spring.

Time to First Fix:
X-930 – Fast cold, warm and moving.
C310X – Fast warm, cold but not while moving.

Route Calculation Speed:
X-930 and the Mio C310x are about the same for route calculation speeds for long distance, but the MIo C310x has an edge when calculating shorter (30-100 mile) routes.

Screen:
X-930 –Glossy is more reflective in sunlight. Widescreen – 3.5 inch. (NOT 4.3 inch like Nuvi 660)
C310X – Matte is less reflective- normal aspect ratio 3.5 inch.

Interface:
X-930 –A few misses and not quick buttons for map view or navigation to “Home”
C310X – More intuitive with equally flexible configurations as the X-930.

More at Via Michelin

At Amazon


ViaMichelinX930InBox.jpg

The Via Michelin X-930 comes with:

  • The Via Michelin X-930 GPS
  • Car mounting suction cup and adhesive disk to mount on dash
  • Stylus
  • Via Michelin DVD ROM - Includes Canadian Maps according to Via Michelin website.
  • 12V power adapter
  • Mini-USB cable
  • wall charger
  • Quick Start Guide

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    Posted by Scott Martin at March 27, 2007 9:22 AM
  • Recent Comments

    je veux des informations sur la batterie 3.7 volt du gps viamichelin x930. Ou la trouver et comment la commender.


    Posted by: denise poirier at January 25, 2010 11:14 AM

    Can someone please upload the x930 dvd? I've lost the damned thing and viamichelin no longer supports this product. Please! And e-mail me : totonebadass@yahoo.com


    Posted by: totonebadass at October 17, 2009 6:11 AM

    I have been using my X-930 for over a year on several trips to SC, Ga, and Fl. Except for a couple of times when it got confused and had me going in cicles it has been working better than expected.
    I am very glad that I have it.


    Posted by: Ralph Parraway at December 10, 2008 5:21 PM

    Sharon,

    The bad news is that Via Michelin is out of the GPS market. I would assume, but can't confirm that they are also out of the support business too.

    See this post:
    http://www.gpslodge.com/archives/016297.php

    While you may spend $50 - $75 on an update normally if they were supporting your unit, you can also think about upgrading to one of the majors in the market for not much more. Recently I saw a TomTom ONE 3rd edition for $138. Still a good chunk of money more, and only a standard screen size, but updates are always there. The Garmin 200 is usually $149 online too; a good entry level choice. Check out my review on it:
    http://www.gpslodge.com/archives/010299.php

    -Scott

    -Scott


    Posted by: Scott Martin at September 1, 2008 9:06 AM

    How come we cant get new updates on the x930


    Posted by: Sharon at August 31, 2008 11:11 PM

    Most of you are correct....the thing sucks! It will take you miles out of the way when you want the quickest route. It had me going in circles the other week. I followed the directions on 2 complete circles just to see if it would correct itself. It didn't... The battery won't last 30 minutes if not plugged it. Every time I get it out of the dash pocket I have to start all over and reprogam the thing. I think the product is a piece of crap!!!


    Posted by: steve at August 30, 2008 9:57 PM

    I've had mine for 18 months and it's been great. The only time I got lost was in Boston and most portable GPS would have gotten lost because coming out of the airport the roads are underground. The only issue I have is that I use it about once a month when I travel and I leave it unplugged so when I go to use it, it's completely dead and has to be programmed from scratch. Couldn't find a place to get map updates but even when they had map updates available, they cost as much as a new unit.

    I always had the attitude when I bought it that it's throwaway after 2 years for that price. For example, it was $180 shipped when I got it. Back then, a cheap Garmin Nuvi was $450. Even if I throw away my ViaMichelin and get a new Garmin Nuvi, I'm still ahead financially and would have the latest maps and if I spend $450 on a GPS I would stress out on making sure it was treated well, with my ViaMichelin it gets total abuse, thrown in with other junk in my laptop bag.


    Posted by: Buellwinkle at August 12, 2008 2:28 PM

    I have had this unit for over a year. It is not a good unit...to many issues to explain including all of the items posted here. Also Viamichelin is not supporting this product in North America. I got an email from them stating that there will be no new maps or updates for the X-930. I guess it tells you something if this unit it so poor that the company that produces it doesn't even stand behing it.

    Don't waste your money...or you will be stuck with this unit as I am.


    Posted by: Kelly at June 27, 2008 7:42 AM

    I have been using this from the past 1 year. I find this GPS to be pretty good and you will be never lost. But i am facing issues in entering addresses like Route 43, RT 15, US 1, US 15N.

    How do you enter the addresses which has Route or US in them? Any help is greatly appreciated.


    Posted by: Sri at May 13, 2008 3:54 PM

    you might try reading the book that came with the gps iff you can read. If you do not enter the exact spelling or the town or the street adress Such as you cannot enter the street name as say main. you have to enter main st or main rd try reading and you might find that it is a very good gps system i have had mine for over a year and have not had the first problem.


    Posted by: gartenn at January 11, 2008 8:16 AM

    I BOUGHT THIS MICHELIN X-930 AND I THINK I GOT RIPPED OFF THIS GPS MIGHT BE OK IF IM GOING TO STATE TO STATE BUT AROUND TOWN IT SUCKS I DRIVE A WRECKER IN LONGVIEW TX AND IT CANT EVEN FINE SOME OF THE MAJOR STREETS I WOULD LOVE TO GET MY MONEY BACK NOT HAPPY IN TEXAS


    Posted by: JIM DENNISON at November 16, 2007 10:46 PM

    I BOUGHT THIS MICHELIN X-930 AND I THINK I GOT RIPPED OFF THIS GPS MIGHT BE OK IF IM GOING TO STATE TO STATE BUT AROUND TOWN IT SUCKS I DRIVE A WRECKER IN LONGVIEW TX AND IT CANT EVEN FINE SOME OF THE MAJOR STREETS I WOULD LOVE TO GET MY MONEY BACK NOT HAPPY IN TEXAS


    Posted by: JIM DENNISON at November 16, 2007 10:45 PM

    HI there, i just want to know, my north american map for Canada not quite up to date, there are places or should i say roads thats been there for yrs and still my X-930 doesn't reconized. So is there or where can i find the latest or updated map for Canada? Thanks..


    Posted by: Colin at September 8, 2007 7:06 PM

    Please, please help me. I've own this device for 1week and haven't been able to get anything done with it. Were can I download a manuel ? The small booklet which came with the system isn't given ne enough information. The device also have too many sub-menus.

    You might try here:

    http://www.viamichelin.us/support.php

    -Scott


    Posted by: MILDRED LEE at July 16, 2007 11:41 AM

    i just bought this gps. I am very excited about receiving it, my hubby and I are going to travel from NY to cape cod and hope this will help. Thank you for your review and hopefully when we return, i can follow-up.


    Posted by: sophie at July 5, 2007 11:26 AM

    Did you take this thing to northeast Houston?
    I did, and it was so far off that I could not believe any gps could be that far off.
    A few of its craziness in one weekend:
    It wanted to take me down a street that hasn't existed in many years.
    It dead-ended me trying to get me to my niece's house.
    It tried to take me to the same dead end and a mile out of the way after I asked it to calculate a route when I was at the nearest cross street to my niece's house and could have seen the house down the street. IT even knew the location of the house and tried to take me the other way...
    It took me from, but could not get me back to my sister's house. It couldn't find the street.
    It told me several times that no such streets existed, despite all sorts of combinations of Ct. Court, etc.
    It is a disaster in NE Houston (Humble, Atascosita, near Houston Intercontinental Aprt.)


    Posted by: Ken at June 26, 2007 8:46 PM
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