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I’ve been eyeing for a purchase of a GPS unit for the longest time now but didn’t really push through with it because of the lack of budgeting competencies on my part.  Which is why today was a welcome development when I was able to borrow a GPS unit from a co-employee who was staying in the office for the whole day.  More so the purpose of borrowing this unit was because of the travel needed from Binan, Laguna to Starbucks at Metrowalk, Ortigas which is I think a potentially good field test for locally developed GPS turn-by-turn unit maker, AVT. www.avt.ph

The model by AVT I will be testing out will be the AVT PN401.  As it stands, it is the midrange product offering by the makers. It sports a built-in speaker and USB 2.0 connectivity, comes with a bigger display of 4.3-inch color touchscreen compared to the P301 model which is also produced by the same company, and runs on a Sirf Atlas V533MHZ processor with Windows CE 6.0. It is tagged with an SRP of P14,500 though my co-employee shared to me that he only got it for around PHP 8,500.00 pesos at a car show held sometime this year at SMX. (I’ll try to believe him as he is sometimes the loud one.)

As I’ve read and heard, the AVT unit supposedly comes pre-installed with over 95,000 points of interest nationwide and covers almost 100% of the NCR spaghetti roads.  I’ve never done a review of this sort before but here are a few, summarized comments on what I’ve experienced today:

POI DATABASE: There is quite a good coverage of Laguna, Cavite, Batangas and Benguet maps.  Seeing myself as a likely traveller to all the mentioned regions is a definite plus for me.  I tried POI’s here in Laguna and there really is a good database of landmarks.  NCR’s coverage was pretty good as well as there clearly was a know-how of one-way streets and roundabouts. But this could be assumed for other units as well so I won’t really know my verification in all of this.

BUILD: The suction cup really sucks. NOT literally. The suction cup does not suck good at all. Evidence: during my travel somewhere in the Alabang flyover, and elevated road, the suction cup gave up and trashed itself on the interior dashboard.  Or maybe because I decided not to spit into the rubber and lick the dashboard surface where it was intended to be placed on? One thing is for sure and I’ve just realized this now, (stupid me), the suction cup was made for the glass windshield. SHIT.

AUDIBILITY: Volume of the female voice was OK. Provided that you don’t have any form entertainment i.e. radio, mp3 songs etc. playing in the background (I would however would have liked it if there was a Barney voice, and the “I love you” hum playing in the background during dreadful traffic situations. NOT.) I wanted to try if there was any tagalog lady voice but I decided to skip that exercise all throughout considering tagalog words doesn’t really play well with me.

MAP: Being powered by Accu-map, purportedly the best collection and integration of waypoints, landmarks and POI’s by mappers and loggers locally here in the Philippines is something that I would really like to believe in. However, this merit cannot be taken seriously as I’ve never had the chance to review a different GPS unit on the differences of make, model and local map providers.

SCREEN QUALITY AND TACTILE FEEDBACK: I drove back to Laguna around 2PM from Ortigas and the sun was very much still on its brightest.  The bright 4.3 inch screen was still readable in spite of my car not having any tint. Even on travel, the fonts are quite easy to read out. Tactile feedback on the screen was quite good and the keyboard on the screen was laid out well so you can use it without the provided mini pen pointer.

GPS PICK-UP AND RELOAD: The GPS pick-up on lost turns was quite fast and the re-route scenarios was quite realistic. However, common sense should just set in if you want to make an immediate u-turn or any other decision that you think is the best way to proceed to in your travel.

All in all, I’m fairly happy with the AVT PN401 with the service it has provided me today.  I’ve read comparison reviews pitting it against other manufacturers and I might comment on what I’ve experienced should I come across other brands as well.

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