It would be fair to say that Motorola has only really dabbled in the GPS arena to date, but with the TN series it has unleashed a range of new dedicated in-car satnavs targeted at the higher end of the market. These include the TN500 and TN700 series, which offer similar features with a choice of 4.3-inch or 5.1-inch displays and UK and ROI or European maps.
The TN760t on test certainly looks capable of making a splash, and is an ultra-widescreen model with a slim build and a range of useful features you won’t find elsewhere. At the rear of the device are six buttons (three either side) with raised surfaces to make them recognisable by touch. These control key features such as volume and zoom, plus there’s a customisable control that can be set to access any of a range of menus and a button atop the unit to return immediately to the map display.
Switching the device on for the first time invokes a wizard that will set up the preferred language, units and customisable controls and pair the device with a mobile phone, which is thoroughly recommended to unlock some of the main benefits.
Given Motorola’s background in the mobile sector it’s no real surprise to see some pretty powerful features available when used alongside a phone. These include hands-free calling, as well as contact and message synchronisation. There’s also the ability to upload POIs from Google Maps, retrieve local fuel prices, weather reports and flight status updates and perform Google Local searches, but it’s worth noting that although Motorola offers a three-month trial of these information retrieval services as standard, an additional charge of £29.99 per year is necessary to maintain them.
We took the device out on the road to see how well all of this works alongside traditional navigation and were very pleased with the overall results. Despite a relatively long time-to-first-fix of around three minutes, we were soon up and running and noted almost immediately how useful the ultra-wide display is in placing vital information at our fingertips.
With this menu enabled, a range of information is available to drivers without obscuring or compromising the clarity of the map display. This split screen view offers a choice of aerial view, turn-by-turn instructions, waypoints, trip information, POIs and a trip computer or ‘dashboard’ to be shown alongside a map, and is one of the best methods we’ve seen yet for accessing this data quickly and easily on the move.
The TN760t is well kitted out with the latest GPS aides as well, including advanced lane guidance, traffic and safety camera alerts, 3D buildings (where available) and text to speech for roadnames. It also features some fairly comprehensive voice recognition to navigate the menus and execute commands, but while this is helpful for more simple tasks, it still falls down when you attempt to speak road names or locations instead of typing them in, so will probably be of limited use to most people.
Aside from appreciating the split-screen multi-view display we were also pleased by how easy it is to plan a route and how accurate the device is on the road. Directions are extremely clear and maps are clean, accurate and colourful, with the added advantage of being able to explore an area by pressing and dragging on the responsive touchscreen, with zoom, elevation and 2D/3D views available for added control.
The phone-oriented features of the TN760t also work well and, though it does have to dial into a service via your mobile to retrieve updates on occasion, this rarely takes more than about 30 seconds. Despite a slight echo we were also impressed by its hands-free calling capabilities, which have been the bane of other devices in the past due to lengthy delays that make long conversations awkward.
It’s difficult to find much to dislike about Motorola’s powerful new in-car series, and although it may have benefited from some travel guides and other tools, the main omission is the ability to play back music on the move. However, it is still possible to use the device for media playback and Motorola offers the option of a professional installation via Chameleon, who can wire it directly to a car stereo for use with iPods, the iPhone and generic MP3 players. Prices for this start vary depending on the connection and make and model of vehicle. See www.motorolamotonav.co.uk for details.