Any TomTom, Magellan, or Mio device can tell you the way to San Jose, but only one company has made a mission of telling you what lane to be in. If you've ever risked a multi-car pileup by veering across several lanes at the last second, you know it's a good feature to have. Navigon has been a hot name on the GPS scene for a while now, and its 7200T impressed us with its elegant designs and highway navigation features. However, this $449 model has some eye candy that, truthfully, we could live without.
Design and Interface
The Navigon 7200T is an elegant device with a 4.3-inch screen, a stylish flat front, and an ebony color scheme. At 4.6 x 3.2 x 0.8 inches, it's also fairly slim. The menus are simple enough for nontechies, making it easy to choose a destination or change routing options.
Entering a route was a simple matter of typing in destinations, and calculating directions took less than a minute. We like the voice entry option: Tap the Voice Entry button and the 7200T asks for the city, street, and street number of your destination. In our testing, it worked flawlessly, although we had to remember to slow down and wait for the beep before answering.
Maps and Navigation
Navigon's designers have given a sleek, modern look to the maps on the 7200T, which is only partway successful. While they look well drawn, they use a lot of gray, which doesn't pop when you're taking them in at a glance. Worse, street names are written in dark gray, which can be hard to see.
Rerouting took a few seconds, never too long or exceptionally short for a unit at this price. But like other Navigon GPS devices, the 7200T refers to intersections as "T-junctions," even when the intersection is actually a four-way with one road being a one-way street.
Lane assistance is the best reason to buy a Navigon, and the 7200T offers Lane Assistant Pro and Reality View Pro, improvements to features in previous devices. As you approach an exit or on-ramp, a small map first appears on the right side of the screen telling you which lane to be in. When you get closer, a photorealistic view of the road fills the screen, complete with highway signs, featuring orange arrows showing you exactly which lane you should be in. They're peace-of-mind features that we enjoyed having.
The "T" in 7200T is for traffic, as this device offers free lifetime traffic service. When there's an incident on your route, a red icon shows on the map. Tap it to read where the trouble is; another tap lets you detour around it.
The 7200T also offers Bluetooth for hands-free calling and an exit guide that tells what POIs you'll find at each exit. Both are useful to have on hand.
Navigon designers have fallen too much in love with eye candy, which might appeal to some but does nothing to enhance navigation. The 7200T displays major buildings in 3D, but that doesn't help when you're trying to find a turn. On our testing in northern New Jersey, we didn't even see any of the 3D buildings.
While it does include Zagat ratings and reviews, the device offers a paltry 2 million-points-of-interest database, which, a Navigon exec told us, is because the target buyers weren't interested in POIs. Well, Navigon customers, a good POI database is a lot more helpful than a 3D image of a stadium. At least the database seemed up to date when we performed searches.
The $449 Navigon 7200T is a gorgeously designed unit that's sure to enhance any dash. While we'd prefer more substance and less eye candy, it almost always performed as good as it looks. Buyers should also consider the Magellan Maestro 4350, which has similar features, such as 3D landmarks on the maps, but costs about $50 less. Still, Navigon's lane guidance and reality-view features make this device a worthwhile investment.