November 9, 2008

Insignia CNV10/CNV20 Full Review

insigniaGPS.jpg

Update: The CNV-10 and CNV-20 are on sale for $99 and $149 respectively; are they worth it? Maybe.......

BestBuy brought the Insignia CNV10/CNV-20 Internet Connected GPS to the market a few weeks ago as the second Internet connected GPS to hit the US market. There are others out there, the first one being the Dash Express, an internet connected GPS that also connects via WiFi to utilize the cheaper and high bandwidth to update maps while sitting in your garage. Magellan has talked for almost a year about having the Magellan 5340+GPRS come to market (and recently announced that they are suspending development on it), as has Garmin with their Nuvifone. Finally, TomTom has hit the market in Europe with their HD designated units that have a SIM chip in the power cord, connecting their units to the internet; if we're lucky, it might even hit the shelves in the US. OK - you get the picture, everyone is thinking about one, but in the end, Dash was here and now Insignia, but not all the others.

The Insignia CNV10 is the standard screen unit (3.5-inch) while the CNV20 is the widescreen unit on the market that offers the ability to search via Google (nearly infinite Points of Interest as a result, right?), send an address to your unit over the airwaves from Google Maps, but most importantly get high quality, high definition traffic updates to the unit. The higher bandwidth allows for a finer resolution in theory of the current traffic situations versus the low bandwidth TMC system that goes over the FM airwaves. Dash takes this to the next level by making the units separate traffic probes, reporting back the situation that you are in, and if you are stuck, it will warn other Dash units that the traffic is bad at your current position.

The Insignia CNV10/CNV20 units come with a 1-year subscription to the cellular network, which gives you an answer to why the fairly basic 3.5-inch screened unit costs $399; a similar, non-connected Garmin costs under $200, while the Dash Express costs $299 + the cellular plan of about $12 per month. See my Unboxing of the Insignia CNV10 for more product shots.

So, doe the Insignia CNV10/CNV20 offer these advanced features in an easy to use format? Did it keep me out of the traffic commuting around Boston? Read on......

See our Unboxing of the CNV-10 for more information and pictures on the unit.

Design

Overall, the Insignia CNV10 is nothing special in terms of aesthetics; flat GPS with an unremarkable mount. It uses a coiled power cord, which is unfortunate. It keeps the cord coiled which prevents it from dangling on the floor of my car, but instead strings it across the front of my radio adding a little frustration to my day. The CNV10 slips into the mount with power connection pins at the bottom of the unit, allowing you to power the mount or the unit itself. the mount is a cam lever action which is easy to use and sturdy.

Interface

The interface is not my favorite and is reminiscent of an old Atari with blocky graphical items and a somewhat unresponsive touchscreen. They start things out right with a "Go To" and "Map" pair of buttons on the splash screen, conjuring up the simple Garmin interface that offer up similar simple choices.

Go To - You can program in your Home address, search for addresses, do a Google Search - which replaces the typical Points of Interest search, hit a list of favorites, recent items, or simply browse through POI's offered up by a Google search.


InsigniaCNV10Search.jpg

As I searched for items near me, I found that the Google Search was lacking results.... yes, the Google search stunk. I searched for banks in my home town, and the Insignia CNV10 came up empty, while an online search at Google Maps offered me the several that I knew about in town.... big miss. I found that it was an issue in a few other areas too, like for food and restaurants. What a disappointment.

Fuel - The Insignia is connected to Gas Buddy which can be helpful if it searches near you. The unit returns results from Gas Buddy, and can present results sortable by Distance, A-Z and by price. I found it fairly accurate, but it relies on Gas Buddy for data, which has a system of crowd sourcing the gas quotes; I saw some stations around me with data that was less than 6 hours old and some stations with data that was over 5 days old. The Gas Buddy feed showed prices for regular, and premium as well as a note on how recent the data was.

InsigniaCNV10GasPrices.jpg

Traffic and Navigation

The Insignia CNV10 is fed traffic by the deCarta system that offers up to three routes when appropriate all accounting for the traffic currently on the routes. Like the Dash system, the routes show up up with the milage and the expected time that the trip will take, taking into account the current traffic situations. I used the unit to travel into Boston from my house on weekday commutes, and found the estimates reasonable given the time of day. Good job. By tapping one of the options, you start navigating along the route. That's where all the goodness stops.

The route into Boston is about 35 miles long and during rush hour it will take about 60 - 75 minutes on a normal day with normal congestion levels. The routing options accurately predicted that, but when I started navigating, the unit indicated that it would magically take 37 minutes to get to Boston.... like it did NOT account for the traffic. Whoops. It's like the traffic engine and the readout on the GPS screen weren't even connected.

Next up - "Checking Traffic" - The traffic up the Southeast Expressway into Boston can change quickly as you move through the rush hour, and the handful of times that the Insignia CNV10 checked for traffic it didn't find much. That's all well an good if it was 3AM on a wednesday morning, but it was the height of the rush hour. I was sitting dead stopped while the little indicator showed a green light and said "No Congestion Reported" - see the picture and notice the car dead stopped ahead of me! This was not some obscure traffic jam, it was a 5 mile back-up that crawled along. I am sitting on a four lane highway in bumper to bumper traffic - there's plenty of congestion to report..... Other than the obvious miss on the congestion, the unit seemed to not check traffic status very frequently, so I only saw it check a couple of times in the hour+ commute time, I would think that it would need to check in every 5 minutes or so.

InsigniaCNV10TrafficJam.jpg
"No Congestion Reported" - Note the Green Light on the Insignia signaling no traffic issues, while I was at a dead stop in traffic on one of Boston's most heavily traveled highways in the morning rush hour.

Navigation - If you notice in the picture above, the Insignia CNV10 was routing me to the Airport HOV lane - I was only one person in the car; another big miss - while it may be the fastest way to the airport, I would get a ticket for using that lane while riding alone. The unit should be able to account for that lane restriction somehow. You can avoid UTurns, Highways, Toll Roads, or Ferries in the settings menu.

Normal navigation around town was decent, and verbal commands were OK, not great; more on the computer side versus the normal human voice side of things.

As I did in my initial impressions and review post for the unboxing, I was able to send addresses to the unit easily and quickly from Google Maps. They land in the "Favorites" section and allow you to navigate to locations that you pick off the web while browsing on any computer.

Settings

You are able to change the map view, set the colors of the screen to a Day/Night or Auto switching view, set brightness, pick various car icons (including a Geek Squad VW Bug), set time, language, and set your unit's email address so that you can email addresses to it via Google Maps. All fairly normal, but nothing impressive or deficient.

Review Summary

The promise of a connected GPS is really pretty impressive and exciting; incredible traffic awareness, quick searches that bring in the ever changing world to your dashboard, and useful information on things like Gas prices. The problem is that the Insignia CNV10/CNV20 don't really deliver any of the benefits of having a connected device, and shows its second tier nature through a poorly executed plumbing of the system to what may be a very good underlying deCarta system. The deCarta system showed fairly accurate travel times through traffic, but never seemed to plug that information back into the actual GPS interface thus rendering the advanced traffic awareness, well pretty useless. Just in case you thought things couldn't get worse, the touchscreen was sometimes unresponsive, clicking and clicking as I tapped it, but never responding. How bad is that?

In the end, I see no good reason at this point to invest in an Insignia CNV10 or CNV20 - the interface is rough the navigation is decent, and the connected nature of it fails to deliver. It's not the absolute worst GPS I have ever seen, but at $399, it's about the worst value I have seen in a GPS. Don't waste your money; I'll be bringing it back and paying the 15% re-stocking fees. UPDATE: I returned the Insignia CNV10 and was NOT charged a re-stocking fee. When asked "Is there anything wrong with this?", I replied, "It doesn't work like it says on the box, the traffic and connected search don't work as promised." No problem getting my full refund on the Insignia GPS Return.

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Posted by Scott Martin at November 9, 2008 10:54 PM

Recent Comments

All of us know at the store that this unit is subpar to all of the others, but we are expected to push it as the markup even at the current price is better than the OEM brands. This is the way we normally operate, not just with our GPS but tvs, etc.


Posted by: Best Buy Salesman at May 9, 2010 1:36 AM

All of us know at the store that this unit is subpar to all of the others, but we are expected to push it as the markup even at the current price is better thanthe OEM brands. This is the way we normally operate, not just with our GPS but tvs, etc.


Posted by: Best Buy Salesman at May 9, 2010 1:34 AM

My mother bought one of ur insignia NS-NAVO1C a few months back and gave it to me for a gift for something I achieved. I opened ur package and everything is there except the mounting cradle. What do I do? Noe r u able to send this piece to me or do I have to return it to the place of sales (no receipt) or do I have to buy this piece? I would like fast action so I can get this into the car working for me. Pls get back to me asap. My home phone is 613-722-2759


Posted by: Stephen McArdle at March 6, 2010 11:23 AM

About a month ago I found the CNV10 on special for $99 at a local Best Buy. I had previous experience with Dash, Garmin, and Toyota in car GPS.
The cellular connection with the Insignia was so sporatic, that the advanced features became useless. I need a GPS with reliable traffic, and if the Insignia can't get a cellular link, it will show there is no traffic. (That's probably what happened for your picuture in the article.)
Needless to say, I returned the unit after about 200 miles of mixed freeway and city driving, less than 24 hours after purchasing. The Best Buy techs could not get a cellular connection, and the GPS could not find either thier store, or Sea World (we were in San Diego County). I was not charged the restocking fee.
Even at $99 I was not willing to waste the space in my car that I need for a good GPS.

(I am now using a Navigon 8100T, and although no GPS is perfect, this is a really sweet unit!)


Posted by: Silveradocyn at March 10, 2009 12:51 PM

I returned the Insignia NS-CNV20 after receiving it as a Xmas present. The second unit worked better than the first, but will be returned for a different model tomorrow. The bluetooth is great except that no one can here you, making the call feature pointless. The touch screen is a little slow to respond, and only 2% of possible listings are available under the browse feature. The unit does not tell you which side of the street your destination is, and tried to get me to drive the wrong way down a one way street. Draw your own conclusions.


Posted by: Michael at January 4, 2009 12:47 AM

I recently received the Insignia NS-CNV10 and agree with the review for the most part. The google integration works well as described. The Google POI set returned in my searches are very small. It appears the integrated SD Card based POI database is better suited to my area?

The interface is weak but my main complaint is the poor routing. The unit has already routed me the wrong way onto a one way street. It wants you to exit off the freeway and take the next on-ramp back onto the same freeway. Reminds me of older Navigon unit routing.

Not ready for prime time.......


Posted by: Mike at January 2, 2009 11:13 PM

This thing is pure junk. Dont waste your money and all teh negative things written are 100% true. I bought this for my wife for xmass and within 20 minutes of using it we took it back and got the garmin. Dont waste your money. The touch screen barely works, the give you a pen but no where to put it, the directions lack what my old GPS could do that are just basics, and the sound quality stinks.


Posted by: Jeff at December 29, 2008 1:07 PM

Scott;
You've hit the nail on the head. As long as your expectations of this unit of of the basic variety (routing,POI's) and are looking for a cheap GPS then the Insignia fits the bill. At a $149 it appears to be decently priced. Yes the interface is a bit rough but I've seen worse for more. The Google search works fine in our area (Colorado).
I upgraded the firmware, but don't know what was addressed ATM.
One thing you didn't mention is that the maps on this unit are from NavTeQ, and not some odd manufacturer. This is a plus in my book.
Hopefully updates will take care of issues and that Insignia will still be dedicated to this product and it won't become a paper weight.
Incidentally, the cost for the subscription service is $99 after the first year, which includes the Google search, traffic and map updates. As you are probably aware that is close to the price you pay to Garmin or Magellen for their map updates.


Posted by: Phil at December 25, 2008 9:59 PM

Renard,

At it's core, the Insignia is a connected device that has flaws, and shows bad design and execution. I can't recommend it as a device that delivers connected capabilities reliably.

The most galling examples were that it totally missed bumper to bumper traffic that should have been an easy one with its connected nature (see the picture in the review). The other fact was that the traffic window results seemed totally disconnected from the trip duration quotes. Bad traffic on the map; ETA that assumes no traffic - just doesn't add up.

Pile on top of that the misses in trying to find businesses in my home town - banks etc. and the misses on gas stations, it all added up to a lack of trust on my part in the capabilities. If you can't trust a GPS, then it doesn't deliver the benefits at the most basic level.

At the time of the review the unit was $399; and my hunch is that BestBuy figured out that they are never going to sell at that level, and that the fire sale may be the swan song of the units.

If one's expectations are that you can have a device with a second rate interface design and occasional good performance on connected features for $149, or $99 for the CNV-20 and CNV-10, respectively, awesome. Go for it; really. I think that the Insignia units can work well against those expectations.

My concern is really with those folks who expect a device to work as well as a Garmin or a TomTom, and deliver consistently as they drive through traffic day in and day out; I just didn't see it living up to those expectations.

My hope is that Insignia sees potential and can fix many of the issues I saw, with software updates. Not sure of their commitment to this and their arrangement with the designer/manufacturer of the device.


As a reminder, the TeleNav Shotgun is fresh on the market, and I have been using it with some positive results, but with some faults too. They seem interested in investing behind it and seem to have a stream of improvements planned. I'll be posting more on this unit in the new year after I have used it a bit more.

Good luck with the Insignia, and keep your eye out for updates. Let us know how it performs and if any of the issues I saw are remedied; that would be great!

-Scott


Posted by: Scott Martin at December 23, 2008 8:28 PM

I was looking for basic nav with bluetooth and I found the cnv20 at bb for 149$ (list is 499) THis seemed like a good value since garmin would be about 300 for this. I hope it works well enough, this is my first nav device.


Posted by: Jesse at December 23, 2008 9:27 AM

I haven't used mine yet, but I just bought a 4.3" for $149, and the CNV-10 is $99. Now how does it rate, seeing as it is one of the few internet connected devices.
Your review seems harsh, stating some of the gas data was old, ok fair enough, suggest another unit that offers this service done better.
Or the unit's coiled power cord, vs a straight one, you cite that a straight one would just lay on the floor and cause problems, but then you go on to fault the coiled one. Again, who or what would be the better alternative.
$149 for a 4.3" GPS with years worth of connectivity seems pretty decent to me, especially in light of the fact that your much vaunted DASH system is no more.


Posted by: Renard at December 22, 2008 5:24 PM

This is on sale for $99. Despite its shortcomings, I'm willing to try it out for that price. I know Worst Buy throws in the first year of internet connectivity for free. Do I NEED to have it after that to use the unit? Or can it function as just a regular GPS (just directions without Google, traffic info, gas prices, etc.) if I choose not to renew the internet service? Thanks a lot.


Posted by: Dave at December 22, 2008 1:28 PM

I purchased the Insignia CNV10 GPS today for $199.99 online at BestBuy.com. Before I picked it up at the store, same day before 3:30, i wanted to get a hands on feel of it. It was for sale in the Brick & Mortar store for $299.99. How can they do that?

In any case I set it up while in the parking lot. Fast & simple! I tested the re-route function and it accepted that very quickly.

The voice is "computerish" and I'm not at all impressed with the 2 hour battery life. The dc cord came with it so it's simple to keep charged. I wish I could turn it off though, so as not to chew up the battery when I get home or am shopping.

There was no mention of a re-stocking fee should I decide to return it.

We'll see how it goes.

Last night I took a wrong turn that led to another wrong turn and so on. It was dark and I'm not familiar with the roads and got scared. This morning I got online at BestBuy.com and compared a bunch of them. I hope I don't regret not getting a Garmin nuvi. But the Insignia seemed to offer so much more! I'm optimistic that, for my purposes, it will be fine.


Posted by: Kathleen at December 2, 2008 7:10 PM

Mike,

Unless they upgrade the system to make things work better, I don't think they work well and don't always deliver basic internet connected capabilities, making them not much better than a $149 3.5-inch screen Garmin or TomTom.

-Scott


Posted by: Scott Martin at December 2, 2008 6:42 AM

So what if you could get this for $199, would you recommend it then at $200 off the retail (though still including the 1 year free data + map updates)?


Posted by: Mike at December 1, 2008 11:07 PM

The review is way too harsh. I purchased the $399 model and the connected functionality works very well for me. I have used the device to search for coffee, pancakes, pants and Hiltons in areas where I did not have knowledge and in every case I was able to locate my desired destination. This does not happen on the old nav system I used to have which had dated information and lacked in enough quantity of POI's.

The traffic alternatives work very well and I did notice that the ETA was too short. My expectation is that the software will be updated by Best Buy to fix this issue.

Gas search works perfectly. Yes there is some pricing that is dated by a couple of days but nothing that is truly problematic. I have not seen data older than 2 days.

I have added numerous addresses to my favorites using the send to device feature.

Finally I am happy that the content can be updated dynamically given that the device is connected and my expectation is that I will get new content in the coming months.

The interface is very basic but I bought this for true connectivity and that is what I am getting. With my old nav system all I could really accomplish was basic routing so this device blows that away by quite a bit.


Posted by: Jeff Hannity at November 11, 2008 9:22 PM

FYI: there is a firmware upgrade available on the Insignia website for these 2 GPS's. Perhaps they may address some of your issues?


Posted by: rob at November 11, 2008 9:22 PM

David,

Tell us how you really feel! I have to say that if you are wrong, you aren't far off. Agreed though - don't waste your time (I wasted enough for you), or your money.

Thought I would let folks know that the Insignia receipt came up with the manufacturer as: "Nanjing Wanlida Tech" - which if you poke around the internet, you may fine that they also make Nextar GPS units.

-Scott


Posted by: Scott Martin at November 10, 2008 8:36 PM

For future reference: ALWAYS remember, this was an Insignia (read: Cheap Best Buy brand) to expect it to be ANYTHING other than a cheap piece of junk would be like expecting quality from a Kia. Most likely, it was developed by the incompetents at Geek Squad. Don't waste your time, nor money.


Posted by: David at November 10, 2008 9:12 AM
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