Saturday, 29 April 2017 16:44

Navman DriveDuo SUV GPS and Dashcam (review)

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Navman has released a “proper” integrated GPS and 2K dash cam that improves on its MiVue series by adding large vehicle assist and 123,000km of HERE 4WD off-road tracks.

The result is the 6” Navman DriveDuo SUV that looks and has features very much like the MY660LMT reviewed last October by iTWire – except that it has a 2K dashcam on board.

So, what is all the fuss about dash cams? In brief, they allow forward view (and there is an optional rear camera) but they also do so much more. This one measures the distance to the car in front (and emits a visual warning and an annoying ping sound that you can turn off), it lets you know if you are too close to the side of the road (lane change warning) and, in the event of an accident, will record it for later review by police and insurance companies.

Wendy Hammond, Navman Australia chief executive, said. “We wanted to give drivers a device that they will get immense value out of with features that they won’t find built into their car or anywhere else, and one that will help them make the most of their free time. It’s perfect for everyday driving but also gives options for even part-time adventurers.”

Hammond said Navman Australia expected to sell about 160,000 navigation units this year and she hoped about 10,000 of them would be this model as it combines premium GPS and dashcam features into one.

iTWire spent the day discovering the delights of the device in the Blue Mountains and then in road use from Sydney to Canberra and Sydney to the Central Coast. The Drive Duo SUV sells for $479 and the optional rear camera an extra $139. It has a two-year warranty and free lifetime monthly map updates.

Navman DriveDuo header

Navman DriveDuo camera

The camera

The camera has a f/1.8, 2K, wide angle, six glass, fixed focus, lens. It also has a microphone.

Sorry, but there is a lack of more technical specs such as pixel and sensor size etc., so suffice to say that it is a good daylight performer and adequate at night if the subject is in the car headlights.

I suspect that because it says it is 2K that it is 2304 x 1296 @30fps (or will do 1080 and 720 for smaller file sizes), probably uses a 3MP CMOS sensor, and produces a compressed H.264, MP4 file.

It records on power-up to a micro-SD slot capable of supporting 64GB cards. It will activate if bumped when parked. It can also be used as a battery operated handy cam at an accident scene.

The smarts attached include a 3-Axis G-sensor about the car’s shift forward/backward (X), to the right/left (Y) and upward/downward (Z), and a GPS for location, speed and time.

Camera software

Desktop MiVue Manager software for Windows and macOS allows replay of the footage replete with speed, g-shock, location and time coordinates.

The Drive Duo uses a micro-USB cable (not the mini-USB as might be expected) and MiVue manager downloads the footage and stores it in its folders. Or you can download very much faster directly from the microSD if your PC supports it.

It supports two channels — cameras — and is intuitive to use insofar-as the only real control is to select the date and or the file list. It has slow-mo and fast forward.

You can upload video to Facebook or YouTube (via the computer) – there are no Android or iOS versions yet.

ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems)

The camera enables lane departure warning (LDWS), forward collision warning (FCWS), forward departure warning (also called stop and go FDWS), headlight alert, and about driving too close to the car in front.

One-off calibration is easy following the on-screen prompts. ADAS features that rely on “seeing” the vehicle can be impaired at night.

In addition, the GPS provides speed camera alerts, fatigue alerts and more.

HERE 4WD tracks and off-road POI

It has around 123,000km of HERE 4WD tracks and over 14,250 additional off-road points of interest, including 7660 campgrounds. It also has Zomato and Lonely Planet data.

While all very useful, you really need to pull over and focus on using this POI (points of interest) data. It can help you find petrol, a bed for the night, somewhere to eat and even roadside assist.

I found that the off-line data was useful, perhaps more so than Google Maps that rely on Internet access and that tend to focus more on “popular spots".

Warning – if you are seriously planning off-road trips then pre-plan and check the availability of fuel, spares and more before you leave.

Large vehicle assist

You can enter vehicle height/length/size/weight data to assist with avoiding narrow laneways and it would be very useful if using a roof rack, towing a caravan or boat.

GPS

I won’t go into the GPS functions in detail – you can read these at the comprehensive MY660LMT review here.

This Navman has the full suite of features:

  • Spoken street names and landmarks
  • 3D photo guidance of main intersections
  • Premium spoken and audible driver alerts like lane merge, steep hills, etc.
  • Bluetooth hands-free
  • Parking station and other POI and shortcuts
  • Trip Planner – multiple destinations
  • Smart route advises on the best route at the time
  • Logbook recording
  • Address, keyword or location find
  • Does not rely on the Internet as smartphones do
  • Lifetime monthly maps (now uses TomTom maps) and live SUNA traffic updates

The interface is standard Navman “tiles” that is easy to use – no manual required.

Pros

  • Navman offer a complete package in this integrated dashcam and GPS – all-in-one is easier to use than separate devices./
  • Comfortable, easy to use Navman interface.
  • Equally useful for an SUV/4WD or general car use although the appeal is the HERE off-road tracks supplemented by HEMA, Explore Australia, Outback travellers, and a total of 1,033,505 POI.
  • Large vehicle assist.
  • Support for 17 different languages.
  • Comes with an improved car mount and charger/cable.
  • Navman offers maps for many countries.

Cons

  • A tad expensive at $479 plus $139 for a rear camera – plus you will need to buy a 64GB microSD card or two (from about $30).
  • Screen placement really needs to be in the centre of the dash. In some vehicles, this can lead to higher reflection off the upholstery.

Would I buy it?

If I did own a 4WD or towed a boat or van the answer is a no-brainer – buy it as there is nothing more fully featured and integrated.

But if you don’t go adventuring and your definition of roughing it is a Hilton, there are many Navman models to select – the 6” MY660LMT is $249.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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