(Pocket-lint) - The Navigon 8410 comes in near the top of Navigon's range of satnavs, topped only by the 8450 Live which brings connected features such as live traffic, weather and local Google search to the mix, pitching it against the top of the range TomTom HD device.
The 8410, then, brings you all the other premium elements, without the ongoing costs associated with those "live" features, so you buy the unit and you get all the services, with 2years of Navigon's FreshMaps service included, enabled by hooking up to your PC.
The 8410 is very much a premium device, with a premium price tag to match. With a slim profile and brushed aluminium bezel, the 8410 will look at home in the interior of your BMW. Navigon used to have a beast of a window mount with some previous versions of their navigation devices, but the 8410 has a solid mount that is easy to attach and secure.
The windscreen mount has the added bonus of also including a mini-USB socket, so you can connect the mount to the power, rather than the unit itself, making it much easier to remove. Considering that the 8410 wants to pass itself off as a media player too, this makes sharing it around the car much easier, as well as those moments you have to dive out of the car and want to take it with you.
The 8410 features a 5-inch display, making it among the largest satnav displays available, which really plays to the rich visuals that it provides. The display is gloss in its finish – another nod to media player functions – so will give you more reflections than a matte finish, but at the same time it is bright enough to cope with most driving conditions.
A single power button lies discretely on the top. A nearly invisible hole provides a mic on the front for the Bluetooth phone link, and the bottom edge provides another mini-USB charging hole, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot. It is excruciatingly well designed, making the curvy plastics of a TomTom look like a toy: the Navigon is industrial and sophisticated by its simplicity.
Dive into the satnav itself and all control is handled by the resistive touchscreen display. The icons are generally big enough and first-time responses from the buttons are the norm, but occasionally, we'd find a second press was needed. The layout is relatively simple, but it does take some time to drill down into all the options that are presented.
The opening screen gives you four options: navigation, phone, media and TV. (The TV module is a £54 accessory that plugs onto the side; we didn't have one to test.) Navigation gives you full Europe (40 country) mapping. You can save destinations, including those that you might import from Outlook or your mobile phone connected via Bluetooth. But be warned, your addresses need to be in the right format, including country, to get the right result, which ours weren't.
Entering an address is simple, you simply tap in the postcode, town, street, number or crossing and the 8410 will calculate the route, show you on the map and give you up to three route options, giving distance and time estimates. Navigon's MyRoute steps in as a rival to IQ Routes, offering up the best route considering the time of day, your driving style and so on. It seems to work, too.
You can also navigate to POIs or get direct guidance to petrol, parking or restaurants. You can add POIs on your route as you go too, and one neat thing is as you approach your final destination you'll get a parking shortcut appear on-screen, to guide you straight to a car park. We also like the option to navigate straight to a definable POI type from the start of the navigation pages – so you can opt for fuel, food or parking within a few presses.
The 8410 also offers voice command, which can be activated by swiping a finger across the display. It is a little inconsistent and you have to learn how to get it to play nice, and we found that some words it just wouldn't recognise, regardless of volume or pronunciation. When voice control is offered, a green icon appears in the corner accompanied by a sound. You simply say what you want after the sound and off you go. This will let you speak a complete address for navigation (town, street, number). It works pretty well too within basic functions.
A correction procedure is available for when it makes a mistake, so it will ask you if the town is correct, etc and you say "no" to change a part. After speaking again, it then presents you with new and similar sounding options in the right area and you can pin down the exact name by saying the number on the list. It's not a perfect system, but it's pretty clever.
A word of caution though. You can use voice commands to access the phonebook too, so you can attempt to navigate to a contact with an address. If the address is incomplete, it makes the best guess it can. A contact in Germany (street name and postcode, but no country), for example, gave us a route to somewhere south of Paris. An extreme case, but one to watch.
You can also use voice commands to dial a number or answer a call too. It lets you speak numbers in phrases and waits for you to say "call" before you go. If that person is in your address book, it displays the contact name too, which is tidy. The same applies to incoming calls, where all you have to say is "accept" to take the call. Very smart.
We found the speaker was plenty loud and it can also be adjusted using voice control although you have to touch the speaker icon to get this to go. Callers reported that the voice quality they were hearing was perfectly acceptable too.
Back to navigation and the driving display is extremely rich. This isn't just a two-tone map. First up you get Real City 3D. This fleshes out your map with 3D building blocks in major cities. Major landmarks or significant buildings are given a full rendering, so Westminster Abbey looks authentic. You might find this a little distracting, but as a tourist, or using the unit on foot, it's great fun and can be turned off if you don't like it.
The second big feature is Panorama View 3D. This is actually one of our favourites, because it is more like driving over a topographical map. You can see the ridges of mountain ranges and have a sense of perspective. It makes the navigation experience more visceral. Again, if you don't like it, you can switch it off. The best thing is that the maps are spread across the large 5-inch display and move around very smoothly, it's a pleasure to watch, which is a good reason in itself to switch it off.
You also get the more useful functions like lane guidance indicators and real signs and some questionable inclusions, like notifications of sharp bends. We turned this off pretty quickly, because you're better off watching the road for sharp bends than a dashboard-mounted device.
The 8410 gives you a rich POI experience. You can navigate directly to these POIs and they also appear on the map as you drive around and not just generic icons – you get the Golden Arches for McDonald's, the Esso logo for their fuel stations and so on. Banks, restaurants, parking and shopping is richly displayed and seems comprehensive.
Turn-by-turn navigation commands are accurate and well-timed, and the map provides all the detail you need for complicated junctions. Spoken street names and road numbers help you to navigate complicated junctions. The lane guidance isn't as rich as TomTom's offering, but it is there. Route recalculation is very fast too. Traffic comes in the form of TMC in this device, with spoken delay notifications so you can make route alterations.
With full European mapping, you'll find that with the language set to English, the spoken interpretation of foreign place names becomes rather too Anglicised. Depending on how well you speak European languages, you might love or loathe this.
Turning to the media functions, the Navigon 8410 offers a media player supporting video, images and music. The music might be a little unnecessary as you probably have a car stereo, but with the 3.5mm jack on the bottom, the kids in the back could use it for entertainment whilst you are driving on a long stretch of motorway.
The media player is a little cumbersome and it won't match your iPhone for simplicity, however you can set a route and then dive into the media player, of course using caution. The system isn't designed to let you drive from Manchester to London watching last night's Eastenders, it's for those moments when you want to shut the kids up or are stuck in a mediocre lodge overnight with no TV.
However, all isn't as rosy as it seems. The media player is rather basic, asking you to explore the microSD card or internal memory in a folder/file system to find the files to then play. It should scan any card, update a library and offer you audio, video or photo options, but it doesn't. We had no problem with viewing photos that we had on a card, but we couldn't get it to work with music or video.
This is likely to be an issue that would be fixed with a software upgrade on the unit at some point in the future, thankfully the device comes with the software onboard, so you can easily install it and upgrade maps and the device software.
Battery life isn't the best unfortunately given the large screen, so you'll only get a couple of hours from it. It is also easy to put it into standby rather than shutting it down, so you'll come back to a drained device if you are not careful.
Overall we were really impressed with the basics that Navigon have got right in the 8410. The navigation is top notch with timely and clear instructions and the rerouting is lightening fast. Gone are the days of continually asking you to turn around and head back to the old route.
The voice commands won't be for all, but once you know what it is good at, you'll find yourself using it. We found it useful for setting a new destination whilst driving. We like the ease of access to POI and we are totally sold on the rich display. For those moments when you need to look at it and visualise where that elusive restaurant is, it really comes into its own.
The design is also very good with the fantastic 5-inch display, we've found it a wonderful driving companion. Don't buy it for the media features though, not until they work. But without those working media features, you are paying top dollar for your satnav device, so you have to be really sold on size and the slick design, or else you'll find many of the solid features here for less.