Via Michelin X-930 Review
-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
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
The Via Michelin X-930 comes with:
The Via Michelin X-930 GPS
Car mounting suction cup and adhesive disk to mount on dash
Via Michelin DVD ROM - Includes Canadian Maps according to Via Michelin website.
12V power adapter
Quick Start Guide
Read More in: Michelin GPS News
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Posted by Scott Martin at March 27, 2007 9:22 AM