While Nextar isn't one of the biggest names in GPS navigation, it's active in the budget space. You might well come across one of its many navigators if you're hunting for a deal. The M3-MX isn't going to win any beauty contests--or wow your friends--but it's a reliable model to have on hand when you're not sure where to go.
Design and Interface
The M3-MX offers a 3.5-inch color touchscreen, and at 0.9 inches, it's a little thicker than most navigators. Still, the M3-MX and the included window mount are small enough to stash in your glove compartment.
When you first turn the device on, the M3-MX gives you the choice of opening the navigation software, music player, photo viewer, or the settings. When we opened the navigation area, we found that this Nextar licenses the same mapping software as the Motorola MotoNav TN20. As with the MotoNav, you're presented with three navigation options--Go, Map, and Settings--to begin routing. The two interfaces aren't identical, though, and it seems like Nextar is using a more recent version of the licensed software. There was an exception: run a POI search in the MotoNav and you can see a map view of results with just one tap, versus two taps on the Nextar.
Getting around the menus is simple enough for those new to GPS, and entering an address is easy. Still, we missed the SmartSpeller feature of theNavigon 2000S, which offers only the letters on the keyboard that are possible for what you might be spelling.
Navigation and Maps
The street pronunciation feature always worked with the M3-MX, and that's an essential tool, even on a budget model. Also, the 1.6 million-POI database is slightly larger than the MotoNav TN20 and felt more current. Of the two stores we mentioned not being able to find in the Motorola review (a ShopRite and a Pier 1), one of them (the ShopRite) was in the Nextar database.
The maps on the Nextar, however, weren't any stronger than theMotorola's. They look blocky and basic--too simple for a modern GPS. Also like the MotoNav TN20, the M3-MX lets you toggle between 2D and 3D maps with a single button press. The routing information around the screen was strong, though, and matched that available on the Motorola. Rerouting were good, at about 5 seconds.
One perk of the MotoNav TN20 is missing here: the lane assistance feature. That's a handy tool to have, but we find the reliable street pronunciation of the Nextar a bigger bonus. You can also load and play songs (MP3) or pictures (JPEG) via an SD Card, but you must remove the SD Card containing the maps first. The media software for both is especially basic.
The M3-MX is a good choice for a bargain unit to have on hand for occasional use. While it's a little stronger than theMotorola TN20, the verdict remains nearly the same: for daily use you'll want something that offers a more satisfying experience, such as theNavigon 2000S.