A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give the TomTom GO 750 live a thorough run-through and I was very impressed. It was a class act and a very tough one to follow. I was interested to see how the competition would respond.

Well, now they have. Navigon, a company not very prominent in South Africa are the first to make serious waves. Their new Navigon 70 offers almost identical services to TomTom Live; traffic information and rerouting, Google Local search and intelligent routing based on the time of day.

Navigon being the clever bunch they are, realise that to make a dent in TomTom’s hold on the South African market they not only need to match TomTom’s services but they need to offer a more compelling package. This is because the days of “turn right in 100m” are over, a navigation device is now much more than something to merely give you directions.

Starting with the device itself, Navigon’s design direction is clear from the get go. Apart from the N70 being the most attractive navigation device currently available in South Africa, they have designed the N70 to get you driving as quickly as possible and to distract you as little as possible while driving.

The main menu is very intuitive, with simple options presented in large clear boxes. The process to find a POI (Point of Interest) or an address is also very logical. My one gripe is that before I got used to the speed of the device receiving the search results, I would double-tap the screen thinking nothing was happening. As a result, often I tended to select a random address or POI. This was seriously frustrating but I soon got used to the speed of the N70.

The directory of POI’s and addresses is just as extensive as the competitions, interestingly the Navigon found my home address, while the TomTom did not – this was strangely insulting. A unique feature of the Navigon is that once you have selected your end destination, a short summary of the destination and route is given with the option to navigate to the closest parking to your destination. This is handy when heading to a destination in an area you do not really know.

The actual navigation is something of contention. Once you get past the summary of the destination, you are giving three route options. Two routes based on Navigon’s data of traffic flow and average time taken and one route based on your driving route habits. To be quite honest, I really couldn’t tell if the Navigon really took my past routing habits into consideration but I like the fact that it doesn’t treat me like an idiot.

The routes provided are not as fast or as intuitive to follow as those given by TomTom. For some reason TomTom’s routing appears more comprehensive and intelligent. That said Navigon’s routing is by no means bad, just TomTom does a better job.

For the live traffic information, here TomTom does a far better job. This is down to how the two systems work. The TomTom works of a cellular network getting traffic information from RDS (Radio Data System) broadcast and from their partnership with Tracker TomTom manages to obtain data from thousands of cars being anonymously tracked. This allows TomTom to get a highly comprehensive view of traffic on almost all roads in South Africa. Navigon on the other hand only receives traffic information from RDS, as a result they do not have nearly as comprehensive a view of traffic as TomTom. Also, the charging cable has to be plugged in to receive the radio transmission.

Now I know that TomTom offer a plethora of awesome celebrity voices to navigate you around town but Navigon have got them licked as far as the vocal instructions. Navigon have managed to create a computerised voice that sounds almost identical to that guy that does movie trailers! For this reason alone I would get the Navigon but the Navigon N70 has one more trick up its sleeve. A proximity sensor, when in navigation the screen is almost clear with the map being the prominent feature. But as you move your hand close to the device various other options pop up, like reroute, or make a call (with you cell phone connected via Bluetooth) as you move your hand away the screen clears again. Having only the map, the road you are on, the speed limit and the time to your destination on the screen makes the N70 very easy to read at a glance.

This brings me onto the actual maps that are quite honestly beautiful. Navigon’s maps make every single competitors maps, from TomTom to OviMaps, look like they were designed in the early 90’s by a blind man. The day colours are soft and the road you are supposed to follow is clearly highlighted, the night colours are not distracting and just as easy to follow as the day ones.

That is about it really. The Navigon’s mapping and traffic information is not quite as comprehensive as TomTom’s but the instructions are easier to follow, the graphics are much more modern and you get the most awesome voice to navigate you around. Personally, I would go for the TomTom GO 750 simply because of the TomTom’s comprehensive routing around traffic. If Navigon can get their act together with traffic then they will become a real choice for people who hate sitting in traffic i.e. everyone.

Tech Specs

Display: 5,0″-touchscreen in 16:9 Format | GPS: ST-AGPS | Operating System: Microsoft Windows CE | Internal Memory: 4 GB Flash, 128 MB RAM Processor STMicroelectronics Cartesio STA 2064 | Battery: 1400 mAh Lithium battery | Weight: 184 g | Dimensions: 137,4 mm x 83 mm x 15,3 mm | PC system requirements: Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7, CD-ROM drive, USB port and (micro)SD / MMC card reader (recommended), Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0
Brendon Ambrose – Managing Editor | About Me – Scared of: Clowns, spiders and Hilary Clinton; Dream Wing Man: Jacob Zuma; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for Gadget.co.za; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook