The Navman S30 3D is the entry-level model in Navman's new range of personal navigation devices. It has a 3.5in display which, after having used the larger 4.3in widescreen models, we found a little cramped. This is particularly so as the default settings include some usefully large onscreen icons that take up quite a margin on the left and right. The other two models in the new range are both larger-screened, however, so this is less likely to be an issue on either the S50 or S70 3D.

The other main difference with the S30 3D is that it comes with UK and Ireland maps but none of central Europe. You can buy these as an SD card add-on, along with a TMC real-time traffic receiver module, if you wish.

The 3D range is the first fruit of Navman’s buyout by Mio and its parent company Mitac. The two formerly rival satnav brands have now aligned their products, with the Navman name and line-up being retained in the UK, while the underlying technology and software is shared between the two. The most notable difference between the old Navman and the new Navman kit is that it comes with a chunkier cigarette lighter connector.

The black and silver design of the unit itself is the same and you get the same clear TeleAtlas maps with an indication of which way and which exit you’ll be taking next and how far it is until the turning.

At the top right is an indicator for how many more miles you’ll be staying on the same road, along with the name of that road. We decided the name of the road you’re currently traveling along would seem a more logical piece of information to provide. The centre of the screen shows the road you’re on and your progress along it in a thick green line while roads you pass and that are within the display area are in a subdued grey with thinner lines.

As you take a corner or negotiate a roundabout, the map swings round with you, which is clear enough, but we occasionally got fooled by advice to bear right on roads that were straight – the Old Kent Road, for example. The S30 3D itself seemed to be foxed a couple of times by the odd routings in central London, but we’ve found that with other satnav units we’ve tried in a similar location, so that’s perhaps more of a reflection of all the tower blocks and clouds obstructing the satellite signals than anything.

Certainly, when we got out of the west end and headed for the unknown (to us) territories of north London, we were thankful for its accuracy, though we would have been more grateful yet for the TMC feature which would have help us avoid the snarl-ups caused by roadworks in Kilburn.

The big wow with the latest Navman range, however, should be the 3D representations of instantly recognisable buildings designed to help you get your bearings in completely unknown cities. Only limited sites are rendered in 3D at each place, to avoid confusion, which sounded reasonable. However, if we couldn’t recognise Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament as we trundled over the Thames, heading north, we doubt a large superimposed cartoon image of them on our Navman screen would have made much odds.

Navman S30 3D

Other landmarks we passed included the 60s Centrepoint skyscraper at the end of Oxford Street and BT Tower, but we couldn’t work out what the 3D illustration for Trafalgar Square was supposed to be – a Roman amphitheatre or an odd attempt at one of Landseer’s lions? Perhaps even a low-level Admiralty Arch.

The other notable feature is the Local Search (Navman Connect) feature. This is a business directory search, so anything in the Infobel database it draws upon should be listed. To use this feature on other models in the range you can pair your Navman 3D with your phone using Bluetooth.

The S30 doesn’t support Bluetooth, however, unlike the step-up models, so you need to enter Live Search details and download the results from the web to our PC and the device before you set off on your journey. The upshot is that you can plan routes to businesses and find services that aren’t otherwise included on POIs.

Navman S30 3D: Specs

  • Personal satellite navigation device
  • 3.5in (320X240-pixel) touchscreen display
  • SirfStar III GPS receiver
  • 400MHz Samsung processor
  • 32MB RAM
  • 2567MB internal memory
  • SD/MMC card slot
  • SmartST 2008 navigation software
  • TeleAtlas UK and Ireland maps
  • full 8-digit postcode search
  • 2D and 3D map views
  • Local Search (Navman Connect) via PC
  • customizable POIs
  • intelligent speed camera alerts
  • selected 3D rendering of city landmarks
  • weight 161g
  • dimensions: 112x78x20mm.
  • Personal satellite navigation device
  • 3.5in (320X240-pixel) touchscreen display
  • SirfStar III GPS receiver
  • 400MHz Samsung processor
  • 32MB RAM
  • 2567MB internal memory
  • SD/MMC card slot
  • SmartST 2008 navigation software
  • TeleAtlas UK and Ireland maps
  • full 8-digit postcode search
  • 2D and 3D map views
  • Local Search (Navman Connect) via PC
  • customizable POIs
  • intelligent speed camera alerts
  • selected 3D rendering of city landmarks
  • weight 161g
  • dimensions: 112x78x20mm.

OUR VERDICT

The Navman S30 3D makes a valiant attempt to distinguish itself as a local travel guide rather than a point-to-point navigation tool with the addition of 3D landmarks and its strong directory listings. Its compact dimensions lend it to being carried in a handbag, but we wonder whether it won’t be a better proposition in the larger, Bluetooth-enabled 4.3in widescreen incarnation of the S50 or S70 3D.

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