By May 2, 2008

Navigon 2100 GPS review

Gather ’round, and listen to ol’ DrFaulken talk about the biggest piece of crap he’s ever had the displeasure of buying.

A GPS should do the following things:

  1. Get you from point A to point B according to your preferences.
  2. Quickly receive a GPS signal.
  3. Be accurate.
  4. Contain current maps and points of interest (POI) relevant to time of manufacture. I don’t expect a GPS unit made in 2003 to ship with current maps, for example.

I really liked my Garmin i5 but there were a few extra features I was looking for that my trusty car-mounted GPS lacked:

  • Handheld and portable. I wanted to have a GPS that I could take with me once I left my car (or motorcycle). I get lost easily, and as such don’t venture out on foot once I reach my destination. I hoped a handheld unit would change that a little.
  • Touch screen. It’s 2008. I didn’t mind the i5 not having a touch screen, but if I am going to buy a current-gen GPS device I want it to have a few more bells and whistles.

The Navigon 2100 did a great job at being portable, but as far as all of my other criteria? Hand me a compass, please. And I don’t even know how to fucking use one of those.

This is just about everything that came with the 2100 or I purchased aftermarket. The big clamp-looking thing, the triangular piece of metal and the bent flexible metal tube are part of a very ineffective car-mount I bought on eBay. The suction mount clamp that came with the unit is not pictured … it sucked too. 😉 The thing was so massive and over-engineered that it couldn’t hold to my Mazda’s windshield.

The Navigon 2100 was pretty well-sized, though. It was small enough to fit in my pocket, but not so small that the touchscreen was unusable.

My problems began when I tried to use the 2100 to get to the airport. I take 895 even though it is a toll road because it shaves about twenty minutes off my route. The 2100 refused to route me there, even after I made sure the “use toll roads” and “fastest route” options were selected. Instead the device wanted me to go the route I would have used before 895 was constructed … in 2002.

Speaking of bad routes and quirky maps, I read that the maps that shipped with the 2100 were from 2006. Unfortunately I can’t find the link again. It may partially explain, however, how the Navigon 2100 didn’t know about the Starbucks I worked at or some of the stores that have opened up here in the last two years.

If your GPS device can’t get you where you want to go in a timely manner, why even bother? The rest of my gripes are icing on the cake. I’m going to bitch on anyway in case someone else is thinking about buying one where the maps and POI are less of an issue.

The touchscreen isn’t sensitive enough at the corners and bottom of the screen to register touches. It’s more of a jabscreen. I felt guilty mashing my finger on the display in order for the buttons to activate. When I eventually got the device to recognize my fingerpunching the interface was painfully slow. I saw more of the “wait” icon than I did where I wanted to go. Configuring the 2100 was an exercise in patience, of which I have very little.

The 2100 has an internal antenna. In theory. I thought the Navigon took awhile to acquire a signal, but it wasn’t until I raced it against my i5 that I realized how glacially slow the 2100 really was. The i5 uses internal battery power to store the last known GPS coordinates for a short period of time. This greatly speeds up getting a signal and plotting routes. The 2100 has a built-in rechargeable battery, so it certainly could have employed this feature as well.

My informal testing revealed that the i5 would acquire and plot a course within two minutes of boot-up. The Navigon took at least five, which is the amount of time it takes me to pull out of the driveway to reach the major thoroughfare out here. If it were overcast or raining, I’d be at the onramp of the freeway before the Navigon locked on, which is seven minutes if I don’t hit any lights along the way. Definitely not acceptable.

All in all? The Navigon 2100 isn’t just the worst GPS I’ve ever used (the Garmin iQue was the previous “winner”). It is the worst Gibberish gadget of 2008. So far. 😉

Posted in: review, technology

8 Comments on "Navigon 2100 GPS review"

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  1. Configures says:

    wish I had written a longer blog entry about my Magellan purchase — I had thought about the Navigon (I like how some Navigon model beeps a caution if one slips over 10 miles over the speed limit, but I read some warnings in reviews about its navigation (one talked about how it led one through all 4 cloverleafs at an interstate connection point).

  2. Lisa says:

    I’ve only a hand held Garmin that I use for geocaching (!!) but I’ve always been happy with it. Numerous family members have Magellans in their cars and seem to be content with those.

    Me? I don’t mind getting lost.

  3. Ed says:

    Is it primarily two issues :

    1) The map
    2) Load time

    What did you think of the interface itself?

  4. drfaulken says:

    The interface wasn’t well laid out. I didn’t take any pictures and was reluctant to address them without showing people what I meant.

    I’d label “load time” as the time it takes the 2100 to calculate a route. I didn’t get a good benchmark on how long it took the unit to map the route once I decided where to go. My main complaint with the unit was “lock time;” it took so long for it to get triangulated GPS information.

  5. Ed says:

    That does sound sadly useless.

  6. Cheap GPS Systems says:

    ‘Jabscreen’ Gotta love that term! Thanks for this marvelous review. I recently returned a Magellan unit for its numerous problems. I expected a unit bought in 2008 should know that the nearest grocery store closed four years ago and had relocated a few blocks. But it did not. So disappointing. And rather than a jabscreen, this unit had an SS screen – ‘supersensitive’ screen, so I was always taken to the wrong screen and was constantly toggling to get to the correct mode. Irritating!

  7. Discount GPS says:

    The Navigon 2100 GPS does seem like it has a jab screen. I have one, and I am pretty happy with it, but maybe thats because it is the only GPS that I ever had. I think that it works great for me, where I have never gone to a store that has not been there in the last two years.

  8. Bruce Atkinson says:

    I just bought one for my wife ($79.99) and I think it works great. I’ve been a long time Destinator user on a Pocket PC. I find that the Navigon does a really good job routing on it’s own. If it does decide to go a way that you don’t want to go it is easy to bring up the turn list and uncheck the roads you don’t want to travel on. It also has a route planner that let’s you lay out a route if you really want to go a specific route. I liked it well enough to buy one for myself to replace using my Pocket PC. You also can hack it. It is basically a pocket pc. I have put on a hack that gives you games, a video player, music player, several applications, and skins. My wife’s is tailored for her and mine is tailored for me. I think it’s great. I find it quite fast for calculating a route. I upgraded both (free) to the 1.2 maps and software before trying them out.