Blast teamed with Boston.com and tested nine of the latest, greatest portable car GPS units recently to see what the easiest way was to get from point A to point B. The results surprised us and will be available on Boston.com in the coming days.
We tested the Garmin Nuvi 880 and TomTom Go 930. We paired those with the Garmin Nuvi 205 w and TomTom XL 330 S. We laughed at the Knight Rider GPS by Mio, featuring the voice of K.I.T.T., the talking car from the 80s TV show that’s making a comebac. And we pushed three Magellans to the limit: The Maestro 5310, Maestro 3250, and RoadMate 1430.
We also tested the affordable Navigon 2100 max with the lane assist and ZAGAT point of interest features turned on.
The Navigon 2100, at $199, is a great buy for a no-nonsense navigator. It’s a cheap GPS without all the bells and whistles. You can add bells (real-time traffic updates) for a one-time fee of $99; and whistles (ZAGAT survey ratings and reviews) for $39.99.
You can also buy Navigon’s‚ FreshMaps service, which offers 12 map updates over a three year period for a one-time cost of $79.99.
But then you’re not really dealing with a cheap GPS anymore.
Let’s say you don’t want any of these features. The 2100 still has a bunch of built-in features like Lane Asisstant Pro, which visually shows you what lane you should be in for a merger or upcoming highway exit. This was a very, very useful, free feature.
Navigon 2100 max
Pros: A surprising amount of features come packed into the $199 Navigon 2100 max. It speaks street names and shows 3D images of road signs when you’re approaching splits and complicated intersections. For an extra charge, you can also add traffic updates, 3-years of map updates, and Zagat restaurant reviews.
Cons: It’s low on the points of interest, delivering “only” 1.6 million. Most GPS units give you 6 million. The cradle is a bit tricky to put together. The font displayed on the screen is WAY too small. The last thing you want to do is squint to see the text while you’re driving. The interface is intuitive, but the “buttons” on the touch screen are too small.
Overall: It’s a value GPS, but it has the same size screen as the Garmin and TomTom we tested. If you don’t want the extras like traffic and Zagat, you don’t have to buy them. This keeps the base price low. At $199, what have you got to lose?