First Look: Cobra's Imperfect Portable
New NavOne offers handy PDA and Pocket PC
connectivity, but fails to impress on everything else.
Tracey Capen, PC World
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Built-in car navigation
systems aren't much help if you end up taking your buddy's car
instead of your own. Cobra Electronics' NavOne 3000 navigation
system addresses this problem by letting you move it from one
car to another. Unfortunately, although the device has some nice
features, its clumsy design and slow operation prevent it from
working as well as competing products do.
The $1299 NavOne isn't the
first portable automobile Global Positioning System (GPS) unit
I've seen, but it offers at least one feature that most others
don't: You can beam addresses from your Pocket PC or Palm PDA
via infrared directly to the unit.
The unit ships with a
suction-cup bracket that is easy to attach to the inside of your
windshield. Plug the unit's adapter into your car's cigarette
lighter socket, and you're ready to roll. When you want to move
the unit to another car, simply take the whole package with you.
The NavOne combines GPS
capabilities with an internal hard drive that can hold maps and
details on thousands of points of interest for the entire United
States, along with limited coverage of Canada. You can download
map updates on your PC and move them to the unit after linking
it to your computer via USB 2.0.
Out on the road, I found
the NavOne's 5.2-inch color LCD bright and easy to read. The
NavOne's maps use the standard overhead, bird's-eye view. This
works for turn-by-turn navigation, but it isn't as sophisticated
as the 3D, forward-looking views offered by comparably priced
portable automobile products like the Tom Tom Navigator and the
Magellan Roadmate. Likewise, the location information was
accurate, but the device seemed to refresh the data and to
calculate routes at a slower pace than did comparably priced
portable automobile models I've seen.
The NavOne uses a
first-generation, button-style interface, so working though the
menus takes a bit longer than it does on units that use
touch-screens. Using the buttons to add addresses manually is
Another drawback of the
NavOne is its size. Because it's bigger than a trade paperback
(and significantly larger than competing models), it blocks more
of your view when attached to your window. Its volume and
brightness controls reside on the right edge of the box, so you
have to make adjustments by feel while driving.
One the positive side, the
unit includes an internal gyroscope that helps it continue to
track your position if the satellite signal is temporarily lost.
In the end, however, the
NavOne's shortcomings make it tough to recommend. Unless you're
a PDA or Pocket PC addict determined to beam addresses to your
GPS device, you're better off looking at competing products.