Monday, 17 October 2016 13:44

Navman MY660LMT – just keeps getting better (review)

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A portable in-car GPS (portable navigation device or PND) unit still has significant relevance, especially as map updates on some built-in-dash units can cost several times the price. Why?

First, you can place the unit closer to your line of sight for less distraction – ever noticed how most in-car systems are in the centre or mid-part of the dash?

Second, the instructions are generally vastly superior – there are far greater levels of information, far better turn-by-turn instructions, landmarks, graphics, and descriptions. It is easier to get from A to B.

Third, do not underestimate the value of up-to-date maps. Something like 20% of all roads change in some way each year – new turns, diversions, speed limits, one-way signs, etc. Lifetime Maps and Traffic (LMT) are standard on most PNDs – something for which many car manufacturers charge an arm and a leg.

Navman is a leader in the field. It makes PNDs catering to the mass market (Move and EZY series), a premium range with a little more functionality (the MY and Speciality series) and recently the MIVUE GPS with a dash cam.

Navman has New Zealand origins and ended up being part of the MiTAC International Corporation that also makes Mio and Magellan. I have to say that earlier models, say pre-2014 were not the pinnacle of design or engineering but later models have been increasingly better. If you have purchased one in the past few years they do everything they promise.

The main competitor is TomTom and while both should achieve the same result — getting you from A to B — the user interfaces (UI) are very different. I prefer the Navman UI but others in my family like TomTom.

Review – Navman MY660LMT

I have been using a Navman 7” MYEscape III for the past 12 months, so I am used to the UI. Changing to a 6” screen was not that hard because the voice prompts are good enough to avoid glancing at the screen all that often. The MYEscape’s extra inch is handy for viewing complex manoeuvres such as entering a multi-lane exchange, but the voice prompt is the same – keep your eyes on the road!

I found the MY660LMT an evolution over the previous MY 400/450/600/650 series. It is a little more responsive, a little faster, and a little more intuitive. Let’s just say it is a more mature product and users of older Navman units would appreciate that – it has almost no foibles like slow to acquire or lost GPS signals, map reversals, and spurious “Perform a U-turn where possible” instructions. I think that simply has to do with a faster processor, more RAM, more complete maps, and software. Maturity and polish.

Specifications

  • 6” diagonal, touch-screen.
  • Spoken audio alerts – speed camera placements, school zones, etc.
  • Lifetime map updates (for the practical life of the unit) for both Australia and New Zealand.
  • Smart find allows you to look for airports, some shopping centres and landmarks.
  • Lifetime traffic updates.
  • Premium driver alerts like 3D graphic landmarks and voice instructions (“Turn left at the lights next to McDonalds,”) driver fatigue warnings, speed limit alerts and more.
  • Advanced lane guidance, including reference to which lane to be in, use of arrows, and photographs at major intersections.
  • Turn-by-turn spoken guidance with slightly better street name pronunciation.
  • Bluetooth for smartphone connections.
  • Zomato (Urban Spoon) café and restaurant guide as well as petrol and accommodation.
  • Smart route learns your favoured routes.
  • Logbook function.
  • Trip planner.
  • Roadside assist.
  • 4GB RAM, MicroSD card slot (32GB).
  • Two-year warranty.
  • Windshield suction mount, 12V car power adaptor, Mini-USB cable.

Bluetooth pairing

Given the fact of poor Bluetooth pairing in many modern cars, it is refreshing to see something that works well with the latest iPhone, Android and Windows 10 Mobile devices.

It is fine for average use and voice quality, and volume (spoken and received) is adequate.

Finding stuff

You can explore (find) using keywords (chemist or airport) or simply look for points of interest on the map (it has 86 different POI icons). Standard POIs includes fuel, emergency services, restaurant/café, hotel/motel, parking, banks and ATMs.

If you use the typical suburb/street/number, find will prompt you with guides and spelling.

It will also take you to the business centre or POIs of a nominated suburb or postcode.

I was given GPS co-ordinates for a bar, and it would accept that as well. You can save locations like the location of your home or a favourite as well.

What I find a little confusing is that it will present numerous ways to reach a given destination – fastest, easiest, economical, shortest, etc., but when you are in a hurry it is not always clear what you are selecting. It defaults to fastest and that may include tolls or highways (unless you prevent that later).

MY660 choices

Traffic

The 12V cigarette lighter adaptor and cable contain the TMC antenna/receiver. It was reliable and offered alternative routes, although sometimes it was too late for me to change.

Map/Screen

The map is easy to read even in bright light and shows: 1) Direction and distance of next turn, 2) Route, 3) Position, 4) Address Bar, 5) Distance and time information that can be expanded (permanently) to show Speed, ETA, Time, Distance to Go and Time to Go. You can zoom in or out.

MY660 Map

GPS accuracy

Locating a GPS signal is the bane of anyone who parks in a multi-storey carpark without line of sight to the sky. The MyEscape III can take from 30 to 300 seconds. The MY660LMT found signals faster – from 30 to 60 seconds.

As I get to know Sydney, I get to know favourite shortcuts (like avoiding the Harbour Bridge when going North). The MY660LMT will generally select the main route, but if you want to avoid tolls or the bridge you can select that and it will use the free Anzac Bridge. Just realise there are ways to program many defaults.

When you depart from a route, stop at shops, etc., it quickly recalculates, and that seems to be faster than previous models.

You can also capture the GPS co-ordinates of the journey, set waypoints and plan multi-stop journeys. It would be nice to view the journey on a PC – that is not a feature I can find yet.

NavDesk

This is the map updater, but it can also search for POI, embed custom POI, plan trips, and more. It works on Mac and Windows. It downloads maps etc., via the micro-USB cable to the PND.

FAQ

Believe it or not, the GPS speed indicator is more accurate than the speedometer in the car. As it appears in the drop-down box on the map screen, it is often easier to use than the speedo.

Voice commands are possible, but whether they work is in the lap of the gods. My advice is to limit voice navigation, but using the Bluetooth function to call someone in your contacts list is fine.

Zomato was excellent for finding restaurants and cafes in out of the way places.

You can buy or rent US or European maps as well as travel guides.

It has a battery for external use – don’t rely on it to last more than 20 minutes as GPS sucks it dry.

Conclusion

I have been using/reviewing Navman since 2013, and it is safe to state that every iteration gets better – the early ones were pretty basic. If you are looking for other reviews (and there are very few as this is a new model), please ensure it is for the MY660LMT – most of the reviews are on older 600/650 models.

As mentioned earlier I prefer the Navman UI over TomTom, but both are reputable companies and provide a good product. TomTom does not have Bluetooth in its 6” model.

I get asked a lot about using a smartphone as a GPS. Sure, you can get free software/maps from HERE or Google and apps from Navman and TomTom (and many more) but the experience, reliability and intuitiveness are not up to that of a PND.

A classic test is to put both into the car and set the routes. It quickly becomes obvious a PND is designed for the job. Note that in some states and territories it is illegal for a P-Plate driver to have a mobile phone, even in a cradle, for use as a GPS.

It sells for under $250 at JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Bing Lee, Big W, and Harvey Norman.

 Navman My660LMT

 


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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