Monday, July 16, 2007

Summary Notes re N800 and Navicore GPS Kit

Having completed an almost 3000 mile trip on my motorcycle while using the Navicore GPS Kit and software on my Nokia N800, I thought I'd post the lessons learned before I forget them.

Good Stuff:

1. Navicore software recalculates pretty fast when you deviate from gps-recommended route.

2. Screen is usable even in bright daylight if you:
a. Provide a sunscreen of sorts
b. Ensure you're at brightest display level, and make the mod on your N800 to allow a timeout of 60 minutes so you're not having the screen dim itself every five minutes.
c. Map screen is really nice and visible on overcast days.
d. The windshield mount, coupled with my adjustable windshield on the motorcycle allowed for minute angle adjustments to deal with glare, sometimes even while on the move if all it took was lowering or raising my windscreen a tiny bit. Properly mounted, it is quite sturdy and stayed affixed during the whole trip with no problem when the motorcycle hit bumps and rough pavement.

3. The gps receiver that comes with the kit worked flawlessly. It will take a couple of minutes to lock on to satellites for a fix when you turn it on but after that, no problems.

4. The voice prompt volumes are loud enough to hear on a motorcycle IF you're using earbud earphones. Don't count on hearing anything from the N800 otherwise at speeds greater than say, 30mph.

Not so good or "gotchas":

1. The USA maps are split between West and East USA. I happened to be traveling where they split (my guess is the missisippi was used as border). So when doing route planning, you have to remember which map to load, east or west USA. This causes the gps some confusion as well when you cross this border. Confusion such as not displaying roads, or trying to get you back to a road it actually knows about even though its wrong way to go. Oh, it also interferes with route planning since if your destination is an address on the other mapset, it'll not find it in searches. You have to get to the city first, then try it again once you've switched to the other mapset.

2. Wish there was a button to stop the nagging when you turn off the planned route for fuel. A bit annoying.

3. If you want the most direct route, pick "shortest route", otherwise it might not be the route you wanted. I kept forgetting to check which option was toggled and sometimes the route recommended was not what I wanted to use. Route recalculation comes into play here.

4. When you pick your destination under "find destination", the whole route flashes very briefly on the screen before returning to street level. I wish you had the option to look at it more thoroughly, THEN press a continue button for it to start guiding you at street level.

5. As with most GPS, not very good at giving you the "big picture" in terms of routing. It's best to carry a paper map with you covering several states around you. I did not, ended up taking a "fastest route" routing that took me way out of the way. See points 3 and 4 above.

6. The N800 is not waterproof, be prepared to put into waterproof bag/case when rain hits. At that point in my case, you're down to voice prompts. Which aren't bad, I just found that it helps to look at the map too when deciding to act on a voice prompt.

7. Halfway through the trip, the N800 would sometimes report "not charging" even when the charger was plugged in and supplying current. I had to, at those points, remove and put back in the charger plug, sometimes several times, before the N800 would report "charging".
Update: Turns out it was the charger I bought from ebay causing the issue, once I got the right one, no more problems with charging on the go.

8. Re the N800's Hildon GUI, to me the Navicore icon was virtually impossible to see in bright sunlight (it's black and red). Best thing to do at this point is try and click the home arrow at bottom of taskbar and select then from menu of open applications. Perhaps switching to new theme will help. No big deal either ways. This only came into play when wanting to switch between Navicore GPS app and my media player.

9. The N800 screen is responsive to a gloved finger's touch, some of the buttons in the apps are pretty small though. YMMV. Found myself wishing for a stylus attached to my glove's fingertip at some points.

10. The mount that comes with the kit is not lockable of course, so sometimes I had to de-rig my setup when going in for breaks and away from the motorcycle. Most times, I left it on the motorcycle, but with the zipper hiding it from easy view. A lockable mount would be really nice.

11. N800's screen not usable to me when using polarized sunglasses or dark helmet visor. YMMV.

Summary: Nice piece of kit, worked great to get me to addresses I'd never been to before. Loved the voice prompts for the most part, it would have been nice if the voice prompts said the street name that it wanted you to turn on but for the most part it was clear enough based it on displaying the name on the screen. Assuming of course if the glare did not make it hard to read.

I'll probably end up buying the Navicore kit for personal use once I have to return the trial kit back to the Womworld people. Hopefully upgrades by Navicore in the future will resolve some of the things I ran into in the gotchas above.

Still on the fence re the windshield mount, it works well, but aesthetically on a motorcycle, probably a different mount in the future for me. I think I found a sunshade for it but it'll have to wait till I decide on mounting hardware.


Chris said...

Do you have any photos of the mounting kit? I am about to head across the country on my Duc and I need a way to mount my nav to the bars. I haven't yet decided on using my ipaq with oncourse (which does seamless cross country routing), smart2go on the N95 (which I am a bit weary about paying for the turn by turn when I already own other software), or Navicore on the 770 tablet.

However, first I need to figure out how to mount all this stuff!

Charlie6 said...


all the N800 related postings, including pics of how it mounted on my motorcycle can be found by clicking the N800 link on the right side of the page, further down.

let me know if you need further ones beyond what I've already posted and I'll see what I can find.

I sent the unit back yesterday since the trial period was over and the womworld people wanted it back.