So just how popular GPS navigation systems in the Philippines are? Why is it that Filipinos are still hesitant in getting a GPS device for their vehicle when it’s easy to get lost or go the wrong way in the streets of Metro Manila?
What we have here is the carNAVI PRO BT navigation device which is one of the GPS devices that is available locally. I’ve used it for three weeks already and it helped me navigate to places that I’m not familiar with. The selling point of carNAVI devices is that there’s no need for subscriptions. You can update maps and navigation data as many times as you want.
Read on to learn how the carNAVI works and if it’s the right GPS navigation device for you.
The carNAVI PRO BT looks like your typical GPS device if you’re familiar with one. It has a 4.3″ resistive display which I think is the right size for in-car use. carNAVI has a cheaper 3.5″ version and they’re coming up with a larger 7″ display one soon.
Buttons are scarce. There’s only one located on the topside to turn the device on and off. As for ports, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack for your earphones which you probably wouldn’t use. There’s an SD card slot where updates are copied and installed and can also be used to store multimedia files (music, videos, photos). A miniUSB port to charge the device via USB cable or to connect it to your PC and treat it as an SD card reader.
A stylus is also provided in case you’re having difficulty using your fingers on the carNAVI.
Ease of Use
The carNAVI PRO BT is very easy to use out of the box. Just attach the windshield contraption that will hold the GPS device, turn the power on and click Navigation to start. It usually takes the carNAVI 2 to 4 minutes to get a satellite read on your location and that is if you’re not underneath a structure (basement parking, tunnel, garage, etc.).
Once you get a satellite signal (satellite will have a green dot), a map of your current location will show and your vehicle is depicted by an arrow which will follow your vehicle as you move. To find navigation direction to a place, you can choose to click Find where you will be presented with Points of Interests as options or browse through the map and click on a spot to go to.
The resistive touch screen display is not as smooth and responsive as I want it to. Browsing through the map is jerky and requires a lot of patience but this is normal for resistive GPS devices. Capacitive ones are still new and more expensive.
It uses an ABCD keyboard layout by default which is frustrating to use but you can change it to a QWERTY one in the Settings.
So how does the carNAVI fare as a GPS navigation device? Well it does what it’s supposed to do, give you turn by turn directions until you get to your destination even if you somehow missed a turn. It will tell you if you need to stay on the left or right side of the road to make the next exit or turn.
Creating waypoints is pretty easy. Use waypoints for commonly visited destination like home, office, school, etc. so you can get directions there easily from anywhere. This is the most useful feature of a GPS device.
The maps are quite extensive. We went to visit a friend in Noveleta, Cavite and the small streets leading to the outskirts of the town can be seen in the carNAVI. There were no road names but it will give you an idea if you’re heading into the right direction.
If you already knew the route that you need to take, the carNAVI can double as a video player. You can load some AVIs on the SD card to play videos while stuck in traffic. Volume is soft though so you’re better off with Mr. Bean or Just for Laugh videos.
You can also pair your phone with the carNAVI via BlueTooth so you can take calls with it, but like I said, volume is a bit soft.
carNAVI said that the battery life on a fully-charged PRO BT will last for 5 hours. I don’t know if that’s for 5-hours straight of usage but I only get around 1.5 hours in a span of three days. I’m thinking that even when it enters sleep mode, battery still gets discharged.
Some things to improve on
The carNAVI PRO BT doesn’t come without any negatives though. Here are some misses based on my experience:
- Choosing the quickest route doesn’t always work because it doesn’t take into account if the road is being used by public utility vehicles. It will mostly choose the most logical route that people knew. It will not use the side streets of Ortigas unless you intentionally enter those streets. It will point you towards the crowded town proper of Kawit, Cavite if you’re going back to Manila instead of choosing the faster Covelandia Road.
- Even when updated (Dec. 2010), it still doesn’t know some no-left turns or one way streets. For example, it asked me to turn left on South Superhighway from Buendia going southbound. You should be wary of road signs and just ignore the GPS and let it recalculate a new route for you.
- There are lots of POI especially for gas stations but it’s just not enough. We had trouble looking for direction to get to Burgos Circle at the Fort. Same with Metrowalk in Ortigas. We had to manually look for those points in the map to get routes and scrolling through the resistive touchscreen is a bit jerky.
- I wish it could also suggest alternate routes before starting. Going to Tandang Sora from SM Megamall, I wanted to avoid using EDSA. We knew we could use C5 but we’re not familiar with the route. Heading towards C-5, carNAVI kept on telling me to make a U-turn back to EDSA. It was not until we reached C-5 that it recalculated our route.
carNAVI said that missing or incorrect routes can be corrected with the help of track logs coming from its huge user base. However, I don’t know if a lot of people will take the time to activate the track log feature when they’re using the GPS device. UPDATE: carNAVI revealed that they processed over 800 user inputs in the Dec. 2010 update.
These flaws are common with other GPS navigation devices loaded with Metro Manila maps but I guess they’re one of the reason why people are still hesitant in getting one. They are reliable if you really don’t know the way to your destination but if you have an inkling of the directions then you might doubt the carNAVI at times.
The carNAVI PRO BT is a decent choice for a GPS navigation device if they manage to update their maps with more POIs. Or you can easily create waypoints to those missing POI that you’ve visited. One attractive offering of the carNAVI is that updates are free unlike others that require subscription.
The carNAVI PRO BT goes for Php14,900 which is the average price of local GPS devices with a 4″ display and you can order one online with free shipping. It also comes with a one-year warranty.
carNAVI PRO BT Specs:
- Screen: 4.3inch Touch TFT LCD Screen (with flat touch panel)
- CPU: 500 MHz SiRF Atlas IV, GPS processor, [Galileo ready]
- Multimedia: MP3 player, Video player, eBook reader
- Internal Memory: 64MB
- External Memory: SD or SDHC card, up to 16GB
- Rechargeable Li-Polymer Battery: 3.7V/1600mAh
- Dimensions: 128mm x 79mm x 16mm, weight: 198g
- Bluetooth Handsfree kit
- USB 2.0 Interface, compatible with USB 1.1
- Price: Php14,900