Motorola Motonav TN765t
During this years CES, Motorola announced a new and striking pnd, the Motonav TN-765. I was able to get my hands on a pre-production version of it and have been getting familiar the past few days. There’s two things that will immediately get your attention: The extra wide, cinema-like 5.1″ screen and the vibrant color and quality of the hi-res display. It’s probably the best screen and fastest refresh rate I’ve yet seen on a pnd, and that includes the HP310 and Navigon 7200, my previous display champs. If those bright colors aren’t quite your taste, there are two additional map color choices. “Smooth”, which resembles the Americana map colors on my Tomtom, and “Minimal” which is pretty much shades of gray, but retaining that bright orange for you active route. While “Vibrant” will definitely get your attention and “oohh’s” from your passengers with the bright blues, greens, pinks and orange, “Smooth” was more my taste after a couple of days.
Motorola puts that extra real-estate to good use. Sporting a cinematic 358×854 pixel screen, it’s a perfect format for Dual-View, a unique way to offer the driver the info he/she wants while allowing the map view to remain uncluttered. While you have the option of showing the map full-screen, I much prefer Dual-view’s split screen. Choose from several different data sets for the left third of the screen, with the default being Aerial or bird’s-eye view. No more need to make a choice between showing 2D or 3D. Put’em both on screen at once. And even the 3D angle can be adjusted up down or sideways. If that has no interest, you can select Nearby POI’s, Traffic or Dashboard for the left display instead. (Dashboard is used to show things like elevation, sat view or speed.) Then, with a destination set, additional screens offering Turn by Turn, Waypoints, or Trip Info get added. Scroll thru all these screens using the left/right arrows. This addresses several of the concerns some of our members have with clearly displaying the information important to them without intruding too much on the map view itself. I haven’t yet seen a cleaner way of showing assorted data fields, or moving thru them as quickly.
Using the Motonav is deceptively simple. I expected less than obvious ways to cancel a route, find a POI or change volume and other settings. Instead, the Nav-n-Go supplied interface was generally intuitive. Volume is controlled by three real buttons on the right side of the case, up/down/mute, while the left side has buttons for zoom in/out plus a customizable one. I chose to use that extra button for quick view of favorites. Don’t like volume control on the right? You can swap those functions over to the left instead. Nice thought, particularly for our left-handed friends.
The sliding power/reset button is at the top right of the case, with another button at the case center intended for quickly returning you to the map view from any screen… or so I was told. That button didn’t work on my particular device, but Motorola assured me it’s working correctly on production models. You guys will have to let me know how it does. But since the map is never completely hidden by any menu, a quick touch on the map returns it, I don’t think that button is necessary anyway. Interested to see if it really is used for map view on the shipping model.
Entering a destination is straight-forward. Tap the map, then “Enter Destination”. The next screen gives you the traditional QWERTY keyboard for address entry along with Google Local or nearby POI’s sorted by categories. You can enter multiple destinations if needed using any combination of the search methods. I hope to spend a little more time with multi-stop routing before I ship the 765 back. It’s the only part that I had any difficulty with. That happens sometimes with old guys.
Once you’ve selected a destination, touching “Options” presents you with up to three color-coded route choices: A/Quickest, B/Shortest or C/Mostly Highways, and whether by car (default view) or toggle down for Bike, Taxi, Bus, Emergency Vehicle or Pedestrian routes. Route calculation was quick, and missed turns took very little time to recalculate. I haven’t made enough trips yet with the Motonav to get a solid feel for route quality. There’s already been a few instances where my Tomtom, Navigon, or Garmin send me one way, but the TN765 sends me another. In two instances it’s offered one of my known shortcuts that none of my other devices have used as far as I can recall, tho to be honest they save very little time. But still a plus. But another route tonight didn’t seem quite right compared to my TomTom 740 and nuvi 760. I’ll get more route comparisons over the next few days and get a better idea how it compares to some other devices.
Mount, battery, TTS
The active mount is rock-solid, showing no vibration at all, unlike at least one of my other devices. The Motonav offers auto on and off, and throws in screen-lock (ala Garmin), making pedestrian use less problematic. But stated battery-use time is only 2.5 hours, which translates to maybe an hour and a half max in real-life. The Motonav doesn’t actually turn completely off either, going into standby when powered down. That means your pnd is probably ready to roll before you can back out of the driveway. According to Motorola, it goes into hibernate, minimal power use, after 4 days. If you use your pnd infrequently, much longer boots times should be expected. Bluetooth pairing took more work that I expected from a handset manufacturer, but was eventually successful and has been perfect since. Contacts imported without issue from my Blackberry. I noted that a bluetooth/application update has already been made available. In-call voice quality is so-so, but at least no echo. Voice commands are not always understood (My TomTom 740 has the same issue), so it’s not something I would use to base a purchase on. Navigation prompts are timely, and you can chose that audible “ding” to precede announcements or turns. I know I’ve seen more than one poster lament the loss or lack of that feature on other devices. The single (Nuance?) English TTS voice quality is good, pronunciations generally correct, volume adequate, but some might wish for a little more. Very slight distortion at 100% volume. Screen brightness is excellent. So bright in fact that I’ve been running it at 80% and it’s still outshines my other devices.
Traffic is free, ad-supported Navteq, so it continues without paying the $50/yr subscription to MotoExtras. The subscription services are pretty sparse, but does include Bing where you can voice request sports scores, latest news, local entertainment and movies, business listings/directions and more plus a call option where appropriate. But I found it more trouble than it’s worth and fairly time-consuming to use. Besides feeling like I was playing twenty questions, any driving directions are given verbally or by text to your cell. No map view, not even sent to your gps as a favorite. Some users may quickly lose interest in Bing as just not worth the effort. Gas prices from Gas Buddy have been accurate, and 7-day weather reports are presently well and with more info than some competing systems. I’ve had no reason to use Flight Status. I’ve been warned of one speed camera so far, so that works. Camera data from Cobra. Unlike the other WinCE OS pnds’s I’ve used, this one has been pleasantly stable with no crashes or lockups so far in nearly a week of use. Fingers crossed.
Auto-Zoom, Map Display
Another note before anyone asks. Yes, auto map zoom can be turned off. FWIW, I found the auto zoom timing to be appropriate and the view at highway speeds to be as good or better than many other pnds. The Navteq map detail is good without being overdone, with numerous street names shown. Not quite as detailed as Navigon, but close.
So just where does the TN765 fit with all the other models from other manufacturers? If you’re a user of one of the more recent Magellan models, you’ll probably feel right at home. Things like the turn “ding”, choice of up to three different routes all graphically displayed on the same screen, even the basic menu, will all feel a bit familiar. In the Navigon camp and looking for a change? That’s a tougher call. If you’re wowed by the graphics and display on your 7200, you’ll really be bowled over by the cinematic widescreen, color and fast refresh of the Motonav. The text is easier to see, the menu’s easier to use and understand. Organization of the trip and device data is head’s and tails above Navigon. But the maps (at least on my pre-production unit) are not as detailed and the speed limit display is poor in comparison. There’s some additional customization on my Navigon 7200 that some might miss too. Admittedly, I wouldn’t be one of those people. Personally I’d choose the Motonav 765 over the Navigon 7200 without question. But there will be those diehard fans that will miss some of the fine-tuning of their Navigon.
Garmin and TomTom fans attracted by that beautiful display may be impressed with how well Motonav has integrated the need for timely trip and travel stats and data with the even more important map view. Using their Dual-View display with a wide screen is one of the best ideas for a pnd that I’ve seen. Easy to use, easy to find the info you want, and certainly easy on the eyes. If I’m looking for a new navigator, there’s no doubt the Motonav TN-765 would have to be on my short-list.