Navigon 5100 Review

(I found this in my draft folder and I figure I’d post it as is. I do have some follow up comments since using the device since Xmas, but I’ll do that in another article.)

product_5100_angled I just recently bought my oldest a new car for Christmas (yeah, my kids are spoiled.) One of the features that I didn’t get in the car is a navigation system. Automobile manufacturers need to get a clue on just how much someone is willing to spend on a navigation system. I have not seen a system for under $1600 for any new car. $1600!! That’s three times the amount I spent on my first car!

However, since I have no ability to curtail the spoiling that goes on around my household, garminiiiI did want to get a navigation system for the new car. My last GPS system was a Garmin III Street Pilot that lives on my motorcycle and does some double-duty in my truck when needed.   Compared to today’s GPS devices, the Street Pilot might as well be a paper map. So I had to do some research on the different models out there and get reacquainted with the technology again.

I set a budget of $300 for this project and I was quite surprised at the number of solutions out there for this price. Tom Tom, Garmin, Navigon … Navigon? who is that? what..? Free lifetime traffic? uhm… okay! Gimme!

I took a huge gamble and went with a Navigon 5100. Never hear of it or the company before? yeah, me neither. Relatively new to the market place, Navigon has three solutions, the uber-toy 7100, the 5100, and the entry-level 2100 (and now a 2100 Max.) The systems are very similar to one another and you should visit their website for specifics. The feature that got me? the free lifetime traffic. Since I had a budget in place for this project, I went with the 5100.

The 5100 came within a couple of days after placing my order with Amazon. Guess Amazon had some extra Christmas time rush help. So I had it the package 5 days ahead of Christmas — it took a lot of effort for me not to open it up. Instead I wrapped it up and waited it out. Christmas came and went with all the excitement of a new car.. who cares about a GPS device. So I didn’t get a chance to play with it until a couple of days later – today – on a road trip to Pittsburgh with the family to visit my sister and her new baby.

This is the first time I’ve ever used an unknown tool on a road trip. I’ve taken many road trips in the past – especially on the motorcycle, and one thing you learn is that you don’t want to be learning a new toy the same time you are suppose to be driving/riding. oh well.

The 5100 package contains: the 5100, car adapter, usb cable, instructions CD-ROM (haven’t even fire this up yet.), window mount, and traffic antenna. The window mount stayed at home as it has a one-time application adhesive to stick to the window of the car your using it in. Since we will be taking my truck on this trip and not the new car, we left it at home. I rigged a cell phone holder to hold the device.

I was initially a little disappointed on Christmas when I showed a good friend the new toy. He noticed that the device didn’t pick up any of the GPS satellites. Sure enough, when I looked, the device had not found any GPS signals and we were just sitting in the dining room of my house. Surely, I should be able to get at least a weak signal from in the house. I tried not to let this initial disappointment get me down as I had high hopes for the little device.

The LCD screen on the 5100 is about 3.5 inches long. It’s an ‘okay’ size. If you are young and have perfect vision, this may be a good size to have. Given that thieves are breaking into cars now just to steal these devices – having something small makes it easier to dismount/disengage from the car and put it in your pocket or purse. I think that if I were to buy one for myself, I may have to go with a bigger screen. Some of the icons and graphics are just too small to be seen from 2-3 feet away.

The overall quality of the product is pretty high. It looks like it can take a drop (not that I’ve done that…)

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