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Tried Navigon & Tom Tom (Android). Next a dedicated unit

tonyw 0 Points
edited November -1 in Smartphone Navigation
I'm looking for offline navigation for two reasons, one I travel where there is no cell service and second I travel in another country where data roaming is very expensive.

I've used Navigon for a year and lately tried Tom Tom for Android. The good and the bad of both as follows. (And in brackets are my questions wondering if a dedicated car GPS would be better than an app in these respects)

1. Slow to start, haven't timed it, but feels like 45 secs for Navigon to start, over 60 seconds for Tom Tom, on a Nexus S. (How fast do dedicated units startup to useful state? Would be nice for GPS be ready to use in seconds not minutes).

2. Address entry seems backwards to me in the apps, need to start with city, then street, then number. Google maps starts with address in natural order of house number street, city, province/state. (How do you enter addresses in dedicated GPS units?)

3. Display of speed, ETA, time left, distance remaining. Tom Tom displays all 4 and large enough to be legible plus the speed limit for that location. Navigon gives you two of the four and not in the combination I want (speed, ETA) so I have to keep touching to toggle the display. And the Navigon font on a smart phone is way too small. Navigon does display the speed limit as a tiny icon on the map. (I'm hoping a dedicated unit displays all 5 pieces of data like Tom Tom app).

4. Saving destinations as favourites. Relatively straightforward in Navigon, can be done in Tom Tom, but it's not obvious and it takes a lot of trial and error to save a destination. Also neither app has provision to save favourites to an SD card so if I reset the smartphone to factory state, I can then reload my saved favourites back from the SD card. Both apps lose favourites if I reload the app. (I imagine dedicate GPs save favourites and it's a lot harder to lose them)

5. Overview map. In Navigon, can flip between navigation view and map view. In map view, map moves to keep "car" centred. In Tom Tom, you drive off the map and the map doesn't re-centre, have to do it manually by scrolling while driving. Also Tom Tom takes a long time, feels like 15 seconds to switch to map view, sometimes it looks like the app is restarting. (Do dedicated GPS's offer map view as well as navigation view?)

6. Auto-resume navigation on startup. If I exit Tom Tom app while navigating, for instance to go into a restaurant to save the battery and so the voice doesn't suddenly announce directions from my pocket, Tom Tom nicely resumes navigation when the app is started. With Nagivon you have to open the app, wait for it to start, re-select the destination, let it calculate the route then choose one of the 3 options, and initiate navigation, close to a minute to resume navigation. With Tom Tom, you just start the app and navigation resumes when the app finally boots up, so 1 second of my time to resume navigation. (Do dedicated GPS units resume navigation when restarted?).

7. Power. I use a 2.1 amp car charger, it barely keeps the smartphone battery charged while running Navigon or Tom Tom. (Less a question, just the thought of making sure I've packed yet another charger for a trip)

Synopsis: I like Navigon's interface but I like the fact that Tom Tom displays all of speed, speed limit, ETA, time remaining, distance remaining legibly. I've used Tom Tom for a couple of months and thought I liked it better but its slowness is sending me back to Navigon.

For those of you who have used dedicated GPS units, are they easier to use and less finicky than a smartphone app? I'm ready to jump ship with the all-in-one smartphone and just get a dedicated car GPS. I want to move from "wait, it'll work, just wait, almost there..." to "it just works".

Would you go back to a dedicated car GPS? Thanks for any advice.


  • Boyd 2043 Points
    I prefer a dedicated GPS for many reasons. It is always mounted in my car, I don't have to take it out every time I go into a store or whatever. The screen is bigger than my phone (currently using a 7" device in fact). It is compatible with the maps that I make myself. AFAIK, there are no navigation programs on phones that support your own vector-based maps.

    My iPhone is great for walking around a city - I just use Google maps for that. But in the car or for hiking on a trail I still prefer a dedicated device.
  • tonyw 0 Points
    Thanks Boyd for the input.
    I have a work-around for neither Navigon or Tom Tom being able to make a backup of my favourite/custom destinations, many are key connection points like ferry terminals which aren't "contacts" but I just added these to the phone's address book. For some certainty I use the addresses that Google maps gives in its directions and Navigon seems to find them in its database OK.

    I uninstalled Tom Tom along with it's 2.3 GB of map data for the US and Canada and have gone back to Navigon for the time being. Having used Tom Tom I find I prefer Navigon.

    P.S. Navigon cockpit. Forget about buying it. The only use I can figure for it is for leveling an RV. You can reset the pitch indicators when on level ground, then when parking for the night, jack up the corners of your RV until the left-right and fore-aft pitch indicators are level again. The icons and red and dark grey font are illegible when driving. And who needs an artificial horizon when driving? A waste of $5.

    I'll shop for a dedicated GPS in the meantime.

    Interesting poll results, as of Oct 26, the majority favour a dedicated car GPS.
  • mvl 191 Points
    I've only used Tomtom units.

    I see a dedicated Tomtom unit doing everything you've listed (except startup time, which is slower than Android in my experience).

    Tomtom for Android is a relatively new and buggy software product. The startup delays, inability to save favorites, and issues flipping maps are all unfinished bugs in my opinion. I hope Tomtom can get to fixing them in 3-6 months.

    I still prefer the Tomtom for Android app mostly because the shortcomings are minor, and I use the device every day (nothing in the world comes close to how good Tomtom HD Traffic is with urban directions), and with daily use I'd rather not have a second dedicated device in my pocket everywhere I go.

    In the Tomtom app you can drive in 2D map view (north up) by tapping into 2D view using the gears button in the lower left of the app. North up and direction up are toggles in the settings mode.
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Interesting poll results, as of Oct 26, the majority favour a dedicated car GPS.
    Only 3 people have voted... All that tells me is that nobody reads the smartphone forum here at GPSReview. :lol:
  • privet01 231 Points
    Interesting poll results, as of Oct 26, the majority favour a dedicated car GPS.

    Only 3 people have voted... All that tells me is that nobody reads the smartphone forum here at GPSReview. :lol:
    Now it's 4 votes :D !

    I too prefer a dedicated unit. Cell phones are wonderful and becoming multifunctional..... but small screen, and the chance I may need to use the phone for other stuff while needing the mapping services is a negative.
  • tonyw 0 Points
    Hmm, seems you can't edit posts in this forum after 15 minutes. An update on my list items

    1. Speed to start. I reinstalled Navigon, just by counting off seconds it takes about 30 seconds to start, less than the 45 secs I mentioned earlier.

    4. Overview map. Navigon also doesn't update the car's location either on the overview map but lets you mark a destination to navigate to. Otherwise you end up driving off the map like with the Tom Tom app.

    6. Auto-resume. I forgot with Navigon, on a longer trip I set the destination for the trip as "home" in Navigon. On startup, I press the Take me Home icon to speed up resuming navigation. The next day I'll set that day's destination as "home".

    Going back to Navigon, I noticed the menu system is about 2 layers deep while with the Tom Tom app, it's 3 or 4 layers deep and personally I find hard to find functions.

    A note on entering "Zip Codes" in Navigon for Canada, it only needs the first three characters of the Postal Code. It's setup to take 5 digits of US style zip codes but after 3 chararters it won't take any more letters of the alphabet. For readers outside Canada, our postal codes look like this "M5B 2H1" alternating letters and numbers. So in Navigon, enter "M5B" for "zip code" and it pulls up all the streets in that postal code area.
  • privet01 231 Points
    As you had questions that the poll didn't cover, you get to hear (if you read to yourself) my FWIW................

    1.) Slow to start. -- Well gps is just going to be that, slow to start. It takes a while to figure out which satellites it needs to use. If you aren't withing a hundred or so miles of where you last turned it off, it might take very long. Cell Phones usually will be a little quicker because they can use other information to supplement the gps. There have been some posts here about the process of acquiring gps signals that's a pretty interesting read. Seconds isn't going to happen from a cold start.

    2.) Address entry -- To narrow things down quickly in order to provide a selection list, it makes more sense to start with criteria that would eliminate the most amount of bad addresses. So, City makes sense. Possibly that's the same reason for only the first 3 digits of the postal code in Canada. Might be the last digits don't do any further resolution of potential matches (definitely guessing here).
    Different devices do it differently so I don't know what to say here except check it out once you've narrowed down your list of devices.

    3.) Display of Speed, ETA..... -- My nuvi 205W (old) displays ETA, current speed, posted speed and I think remaining distance on the map display. Different nuvi's might be different though. However, more money gets you more things. I've been thinking that a Garmin Montana or Oregon, which are "trail devices" might work quite well when equipped with routable highway maps. Have not seriously looked at what I'd be loosing in interface simplicity though. But with them you should be able to display any data you want on the map page. Or am I wrong.... someone?

    4.) Saving destinations as favorites. -- Hmm, that's been changing somewhat with newer units, as well as how routings, waypoints, viapoints and all sorts of other stuff. Seems to be creating some confusion in the nuvi market. At least during the time I was considering replacing my 5 year old nuvi there seemed to quite a bit of post from people annoyed at the new ways of doing things.

    5.) Overview map.-- On my nuvi 205W you can flip back an forth very easily. Also zoom out/in on both. Likewise on my handheld and marine gps's you can zoom out/in easily.

    6.) Auto-resume -- I think the dedicated "road" devices handle this pretty well. But I don't shut mine off when I get out for a break. It just goes into sleep mode and when I finish my meal or whatever, I crank the car and it's ready to continue.

    7.) Power -- If you buy a dedicated "on the Road" GPS then you'll get an appropriate power adapter to fit your car with the unit. At least for Garmin you do. Now if your car doesn't have enough power points for all the devices you have............

    It still just get's back to what you prefer and how much you want to spend. But no matter what... I can almost guaranty that you'll find some things are handled really well, and some things are handled really bad no matter what you get.
  • tonyw 0 Points
    Thanks Privet01
    The start time I'm thinking of is the time for the app's menus to appear, rather than the time for GPS fix. I can be selecting my destination while the fix is fetched. Navigon on an older Nexus S takes about 30 seconds for the menus to appear, much longer with the Tom Tom App.

    The improvement I've seen with Navigon recently when entering addresses is when you start typing in a city name, if it was used before, it comes up at the top of the list, but you have to start typing the city name. With Tom Tom, a previously used city is already at the top of the list so you just select it.

    Right, I have a trail device and the screens are completely customizable in terms of what data are displayed. But the small low resolution screen isn't very good for driving. I used my trail GPS for years before driving before I got a smartphone.

    Agreed, it's a matter of trade-offs. For now I've gone back to Navigon. For now I've given up on a stand alone GPS, for the features I want it's several hundred dollars. There are some refurbished older units in the $70 range but they're not much improvement over the cellphone.

    Thanks everyone for your feedback.
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