Review: Insignia Internet-Connected GPS (NS-CNV10)

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The $299 Internet-Connected GPS from Best Buy’s “Insignia” house brand features a cool built-in cellular connection, allowing you to harness the power of Google to find stores, restaurants, cheap gas, and more while on the go. However, the lackluster UI and relatively high price tag hold back an otherwise awesome combination of GPS and data services.

Features:

  • Built-in cellular modem with one year of data service included
  • Real-time traffic updates
  • Google Local Search
  • Real-Time Gas Prices
  • Preloaded base maps of the United States
  • Backlit 3.5" color LCD screen
  • Text-to-speech and turn-by-turn voice prompts
  • MSRP of $299.99, available through Best Buy only

Overview:

The NS-CNV10 from Best Buy’s house brand, Insignia, offers a unique feature over other GPS systems in that it’s got a built-in cellular connection. The feature integrates well with Google’s local search services, especially if you’re on vacation somewhere. On a recent trip, I used the GPS system all the time to find local restaurants, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Real-time gas prices and traffic updates are handy too. You set the unit up with a customized e-mail address (yourname@insigniagps.com), which allows you to e-mail maps and directions to yourself from your home or office computer.

The hardware itself consists of a handsome, well-built casing and the package comes with an easy to use windshield and dashboard mount. The unit is powered and charged via USB, which is nice because you can charge it using your computer, the AC adapter, or the in-car adapter. Plus, if your phone charges via USB as well, you’ve got yourself a nice little car charger. The GPS system will run for about two hours before needing to be plugged back in.

gps

Grabbing the GPS signal and the cell signal seemed to take about a minute when starting everything up under a clear sky, which isn’t too bad. I thought it odd that the cell signal took about as long as the GPS signal, though. Once everything gets humming, the whole experience is pretty responsive, although the actual bird’s eye view leaves a bit to be desired.

Typing in addresses using the touchscreen is not fun. Finger presses often take two or three times to register and it’s really easy to hit the wrong letters and numbers since everything’s so scrunched together. My wife and I had a couple of hand-slap fights trying to key in destinations. The GPS drove a wedge of frustration right between us, she did.

The overall interface on the whole is just so-so. It’s not super intuitive, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. You’ll make a few mistakes at first, thanks in part to some of the menu buttons, but after a while you’ll adjust. That’s the thing, you will have to adjust to the machine since the UI isn’t as friendly or pretty as you’d expect from a present-day device.

Recommendation:

All in all, I came away with a lukewarm feeling. The GPS + data combo was definitely helpful while looking for stuff and the ability to e-mail directions to it is a great feature, as is all the local searching, traffic, and gas prices. The overall design of the interface and the user experience kind of felt a few years behind, though.

The current price of the NS-CNV10 is $299.99, which is think is too high. However, a lot of the user reviews I’ve read and deals I’ve seen keep saying that people have been buying this thing for $100. For $100, I think it’s a great deal and would probably buy one myself.

At $299, though, it feels like it’s about $150 too expensive. Don’t get me wrong, the cell service is great, and you get a year of it for free when you buy the system, but there’s no indication of how much it’ll cost after your first year is up. The manual simply says to go to BestBuy.com to renew but it doesn’t appear that the company has set prices since the thing hasn’t even been out for a year yet. If it costs an arm and a leg for another year of data service, then it won’t be worth it. Hopefully it’d be about $10 per month or so.

All in all, if you’re keen on the data stuff, which is great, then you’ll probably like this GPS system. If you’re just looking for driving directions, though, you can do much better in a less expensive competing unit with a much better interface.

Video: Here’s a quick look at the UI and some of the features…

Product Page [BestBuy.com]

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