Navigating is a fine skill that one needs to hone over many years to qualify as an assistant in a cross-country rally. But, in today's world of automating everything, digital navigators can take over that job…almost!
The options available for everyday motoring, the casual explorer and the road-traveller today are really good, even though there is a long way to go before digital navigators can really become interactive and accurate.
One of ‘em that has been on our test bench for the last couple of months is the MapmyIndia Loaded (Vx140) navigator.
This is one rugged navigating device. Built with smooth-edged matt plastic panels and a clear 4.3-inch LCD touch screen, this navigator has more features than all of its predecessors. Weighing 165 gms, it is only a bit heavier than the average smartphone of today.
With a wide touch screen, you won't need a stylus to access the menu and options that are available on the Vx140, but the manufacturer has given one anyway. Tucked neatly behind the car windscreen mount head, the stylus will come in handy if you need to re-route or make any other inputs on the Navigator's screen when you are seated behind the wheel.
The MapmyIndia Loaded Vx140 navigator comes with detailed maps offering street level turn-by-turn navigation for over 620 cities in India, including about 125 tourist cities. A total of about 5.8 lakh connecting towns and villages and about two million unique destinations have been loaded in the navigator.
In terms of functionality in the Vx140, the user can effectively drag the map in any direction, zoom in and out to change scale, make the map 2D or 3D at any angle, and rotate the map to get a different perspective. One can also change the mode from day to night to see the destination or city or region in a totally different light!
We found the screen resolution and map quality to be very good. But the touch screen's performance was only lacklustre. It lacked sensitivity and though there would be a clicking sound and a haptic feedback on the screen, the command didn't register often. Such false registers were more frequent and irritating when the keyboard was being used for keying in destinations/ addresses.
The interesting feature in the Vx140 is of course its Bluetooth connectivity that allows the user to receive phone calls from a paired handset, quite like a handsfree. The navigator also offers other multimedia features, which enables it to playback music and videos and even slideshow a bunch of pictures. The 64MB of flash memory and a 2GB SD memory card (capable of going up to 8GB) will come in handy for people who want to use these features.
Further, with the new MapmyIndia Navigator, you can also import geo-tagged photographs and see them on the map, navigate to them, or search for the nearest GeoPix.
Just turn on the Vx140 navigator and the first menu screen that appears makes it clear that the unit is ready to perform any of its multimedia, Bluetooth or navigation functions. The battery charge range is about one and half hours of continuous navigation or about 32 hours of standby time.
Priced at about Rs 15,000, the Vx140 can be a handy companion for every one of your road trips. You won't need to stop to ask for directions anywhere in India.
Love : Map quality and detail, multimedia functions
Hate : Poor touch sensitivity of the screen, slow GPS link up