The problem with many budget navigators--especially off-brand models--is that you feel like you're fighting with them when you enter data. One of the few exceptions is the Navigon 2000S ($199), the lowest-priced model from hot newcomer Navigon that is a pure pleasure to use. Entering data, driving, planning routes: it's all as simple as can be.
Design and Interface
The 2000S is compact with a 3.5-inch screen, which is typical for a budget model. We weren't in love with the mount, which requires assembly. The suction cup gave way on us once, so remember to press hard when you place it on your windshield. The navigator itself is basic black and quite slim (0.7 inches). The only external control is the power button along the top.
The Navigon menu, also in basic black, is effortless to use. Main buttons let you enter a destination, choose from saved destinations, plot a route home, or view the map. A long Options button at the bottom of the screen lets you change system settings. Of the two available voices, only one pronounces street names. You can choose to create pedestrian or bicycle routes, or plan a multistop route.
Click to enter a destination and you can either enter an address or search for a POI from the database of 2 million; that's on the small side, but at least it appeared up to date.
Click to enlargeThe screen also offers customizable quick-access buttons for finding a gas station, parking area, restaurant, or other amenity. The tabbed interface makes entering an address simple, and the SmartSpeller feature, which shows only the letters possible for the cities and streets in the search area, speeds up entering location info.
Maps and Navigation
The screen on the 2000S is nice and bright, and the maps are well drawn and easy to follow. We'd like to see more bold colors used on these maps, though, as they can be awfully gray. Despite the small screen size, information is arranged conveniently along the bottom and sides, so that the route info you need is always accessible. You can tap the turn indicator to hear the next turn spoken, or the magnifying glass icon to see a 2D map of the area.
In our testing, we found the 2000S to be especially fast at rerouting. Sometimes the Navigon took two seconds to alter a route and sometimes it was instantaneous. The only problem with this navigator's routing is something we've seen in all Navigons: it refers to intersections as "T-junctions," even when the intersection is actually a four-way with one road being a one-way street.
One of the best reasons to buy the 2000S is that it comes with Navigon's helpful Reality View Pro and Lane Assistant Pro features, which make highway driving easier by offering photorealistic views of difficult exchanges and showing you exactly which lane to be in. You won't find media playback features or expandable memory, but we can live without these features.
Except for its 3.5-inch screen size, the Navigon 2000S is a no-compromise budget model that offers a number of features typically found in higher-end devices. For less than $200, you get excellent maps, handy driving aids, and an intuitive user interface. While its POI database could be larger, the Navigon 2000S is a great choice when you don't want to spend a lot for quality navigation.