Conversation in any electronic store across the nation:
Him: Hey, this GPS has the voice of K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider.
Her: Mmm-hmm. But this other GPS pronounces street names, and it's $70 less.
Him: But, this one has the voice of K.I.T.T.
Her: But this other one has music, photo, and video playback, and it's also $70 less.
While we think we know who's going to win that battle, we're endorsing the device that makes navigating fun. Yes, you can buy more features for the money, but do any of those models have the voice of K.I.T.T. (as voiced by William Daniels)? No, we didn't think so.
Several navigators, including the upcoming Navigon 2000S, list for $199 and have media features or text-to-speech, but they usually have 3.5-inch screens, and the Knight Rider offers a roomy 4.3-inch display that's not too big for your dashboard. It's encased in a glossy black frame with red lights on either side that blink when K.I.T.T. talks. Even better, the device can pronounce 300 names, stored in memory. It's very cool to turn the unit on and have K.I.T.T. greet you by name with five randomized salutations.
The Knight Rider offers a matching black menu interface, which is clearly arranged and makes it simple to enter an address or change settings. Shortcut buttons let you find gas, parking, restaurants, and attractions with one tap.
The map view is the traditional colorful Mio map, but with trip information such as distance-to-go or the current direction placed in black boxes to match the theme. They're not perfectly easy to read at a glance, but that's the price of style, apparently.
Driving with the Knight Rider was a pleasure, although we wish that it pronounced street names using Daniels' voice. The package comes with MioMore software which runs on Windows XP and Vista computers and can install a text-to-speech voice, but you have to remove one of the preloaded languages: French, Spanish, or--heaven forbid--K.I.T.T.
The Knight Rider offers 4 million points of interest, which is on the small side, although it felt up to date. We were disappointed, though, that the restaurant section didn't offer subcategories by cuisine. The Search Nearby option was also a little faulty: a search for a nearby Starbucks turned up every location in the state, starting with Atlantic City.
We were surprised to learn the Knight Rider has a 400-MHz processor, since it felt slower; the menu was sluggish at times. Re-routing times were good, however, at about 4 seconds.
While there isn't much to recommend the Knight Rider GPS by Mio beyond the voice, that's enough to make driving with it fun. If you're not into '80s nostalgia, then opt for theV7 Nav740, which features an 11 million POI database, and can be found for as low as $200. But if your evil twin is chasing you and you need to get away quickly, make sure you've got the Knight Rider GPS on your dash.