GPS Review – Navman iCN 630
by: J. Chartwell
The Navman iCN 630 is a stand-alone in-car navigation system. Somewhat compact, it has 64MB of map memory which can be limiting. It has very good sound and display quality, but was not without a few problems.
What You Get:
- Navman iCN 630 receiver
- Windshield suction mount
- Dashboard mount
- USB cable
- AC power cable
- Auto power cable
- PC application Quick start guide
- Navman carrying pouch
- Carrying strap
- SmartMap CDs
- External Antenna
- SD or MMC memory card
- memory card writer
What It Does:
The Main Menu provides access to setup and viewing options. Navigate through the Main Menu using the 8-way toggle and make a selection by pressing OK. Return to the Main Menu at any time by pressing MENU/Power The ESC button exits your last action and returns you to the previous screen. The Main Menu allows you to set your destination, view the map, access the Shortcuts, manage the Settings, and view the GPS status. If any button is pressed while the vehicle is moving, the Driver Protection screen displays, warning not to operate the Navman iCN 630 while driving.
There are a number of ways to program a destination. To set a Destination you can,
- enter a street address
- select the intersection of two streets
- choose a Point of Interest such as a hotel, school or hospital
- use a pre-progammed Favourite or Shortcut
- select a Recently Travelled To address
- take a position From A Map
A Sampling of Destination Methods
From the Main Menu, select Destination, then Address. Next you select the country (this is automatically chosen if the loaded maps are only in one country). Then select Region. This could be a city, state or county. Next the unit asks for the Town, then Road, then Number. After that, you can choose one of the following options: select Go and your route is calculated; select Show and the route is not calculated, but the address displays in Map Browser view; select Save and that saves the destination as a Shortcut or Favourite.
Map information can have Points-Of-Interest (POI's) stored for convenience. A Point-Of-Interest is any named site, feature, landmark or public venue. There can be thousands of POI's in a city, so they are sorted into categories. Points of Interest categories may include hotels, churches, schools or parks, to name just a few. To display a POI, first you select a Category, for example Food & Drink. Selecting Type narrows down the number of options. Then you are to enter an Area, usually a city or town. You can enter an area name in the text entry screen, or choose from the list.
You can program your destination directly from a map. Use this option if you know the area. You can move the cursor around on a map and select a point. The address details will automatically load and display for you. You can Zoom if required and once you've located your destination you're ready to go.
Viewing Your Route
There are a number of ways to view your route. Cycling through the navigation screens will do the following: the Map Browser view displays your route on a North oriented map; the 3D Navigation Map view displays your route on a map oriented to your traveling direction with an adjustable horizon; the Next Instruction view shows the direction and distance to the next turn; the next 4 Instructions view (shown at the left) displays the next 4 turns, street name, turn directions and distance to go.
This display shows a visual representation of the satellites the iCN is receiving information from. Latitude and longitude, heading in degrees, and ground speed are displayed. The 12 satellites that may be viewed from your current position are shown as segments. A yellow segment indicates a satellite that is being tracked but is not being used to determine your position. A red segment indicates a satellite that is being used to determine a two dimensional (2D) fix. A green segment indicates the satellite that is used to determine your position. The circle displays green when there is a valid fix and red when no fix is available.
Viewing Your Route
Satellite signal strengths are displayed in the form of a bar graph. Each satellite's status is indicated. The circle on the right-hand side of the screen is displays green when there is a valid fix (2D or 3D), and red when no fix available. The satellites that may be viewed from your current position are shown as bars. Grey Bar - no signal from satellite; red bar - signal being received from the satellite but not used in fixing your position; green bar - good signal being received and satellite being used to fix your position.
Size: 3.25"H x 6.8”W x 2.5”D (8.26 x 17.3 x 6.4 cm)
Weight: 22 ounces (624 g)
Display: 320 x 240 pixel resolution with 230,000 colors
Data Storage: 64MB internal, up to 512MB with SD card (not included)
Power Source: 12VDC by AC power supply or vehicle supply
Memory: 128MB RAM (64MB for map storage)
Suggested Retail: $1049.95USD
Price Range Available on Internet: $490.00 - $699.00USD
The first thing to do is install the iCN desktop on your PC using the supplied CDs. The iCN 630 connects to the computer via the supplied USB cable. Then I install the smartMAP application onto the GPS. Easier said than done. I had MANY problems installing the application and maps, including replacing the mother board on one PC due to (possibly) the iCN 630 causing several USB ports to go bad. I have to be open to this being a coincidence, but there is no apparent reason to indicate the mother board went bad on its own.
Once the installation is complete, the software must be activated. This is done by an Internet connection. Now the maps must be installed onto the iCN 630. Choose the desired region from the desktop application. The maps can be installed to the internal memory, the memory card, or a memory card writer. Since the iCN 630 has only 64MB of memory for maps, it is probably a good idea to buy a memory card.
Once the maps are loaded, the unit can be installed in the vehicle. The vehicle mounting hardware was easy to assemble. The unit mounts to the windshield with a suction cup and it held very well. One little nuisance was the fact that the power cable connects at the left side of the unit. This is fine for vehicles that are right-hand drive, but here in the U.S. that means the power cable is closer to driver and sometimes got in the way.
Upon powering up the unit, there is a screen that warns to place the unit is secure, not to use while driving, blah, blah, blah. Next is the tutorial that explains what all the buttons do and briefly tells how to use the basic functions. The small size of the font made the tutorial difficult to see. The tutorial can be made to not display.
The iCN 630 acquired satellites rather quickly. The next step is to select a destination. This was frustrating and disappointing. The information seemed to be old, meaning many of the destinations I had to choose from no longer existed. I pretended I wanted to go to McDonalds and used the on-screen keyboard to spell out "McDonalds." It found a McDonalds. A McDonalds in a city where there are four. Other types of commercial establishments were not listed (i.e. a department store, a home-improvement store).
Once I found a valid destination, the voice guidance was loud and clear. Directions seemed to be reasonably accurate although upon reaching my destination, the unit did not say whether is was on the right or left as other brands do. This didn't seem to be an anomaly as it happened for every time I navigated to a destination. The screen quality was very good, both in color and contrast.
Cons and Pros:
- Point of interest data somewhat outdated and incomplete
- Small amount of map memory
- No ability to view maps or create routes on the PC
- Video and audio quality
- Generally easy to operate
- Very good technical support
This is the first GPS receiver I've come across that I recommend against. However, Navman tells me that the map data will be updated sometime in early 2005. If this happens, then this unit should be considered, as the poor map data is the biggest problem. Even though I had a lot of problems getting the iCN 630 set up, the extremely good and prompt toll-free technical support made a frustrating situation not quite as bad.