Fujitsu Siemens Pocket LOOX N520 review
Fujitsu Siemens’ Pocket LOOX N520 is a perfect fit for GPS navigation. There are no unsightly fold-out antennae to fiddle with thanks to a completely internal aerial. In fact, the N520 addresses all the issues we had with the GPS side of HP’s Mobile Messenger hw6515: the Pocket LOOX has a 3.5in 240 x 320 display, which is far better for viewing maps and menus than the HP’s 240 x 240 resolution, yet it’s not so large that the LOOX fills your dashboard or blocks your view of the road ahead.
And, unlike the hw6515, it comes with full UK and Ireland maps, not simply the code to unlock a single city map. In the box is a compact car cradle into which the N520 slips easily, and it has a tight enough grip for landscape mounting. The only niggle is the fragile connector that plugs into the bottom of the PDA – this can be easily damaged if the suction mount falls off the windscreen.
However, the integrated antenna makes this a great GPS device away from the car; no Bluetooth connections to worry about, and no second device to carry around. The N520 is fitted with 128MB of ROM in which Windows Mobile 5 safely stores user data, providing more storage space than the Mio’s A201. It’s also the only device here with 802.11g wireless LAN – the first PDA we’ve seen with this faster radio, although admittedly there’s no Bluetooth.
The N520’s Navigon Mobile Navigator 5 looks identical to the Mio’s MioMap, but MioMap is a version of Navigon with Tele Atlas map data, while the Fujitsu Siemens N520 uses Navteq data. The application starts with a menu, and what you see depends on the user mode. Standard mode reduces options throughout the program, while extended mode shows all the choices. Standard isn’t just for novices – it’s easier on daily or regular journeys, placing Navigation, Favourites and Recent destination buttons on the main menu.
Extended mode has Navigation, Route planning and Show map buttons, which is better for multistop journeys and for using the map on foot. The Windows button is a great feature, as it toggles the Windows taskbar on and off at the top of the screen, letting you access other information and settings outside Mobile Navigator 5 while it’s running.
The maps are some of the best on test, with nice touches such as the footprints of prominent buildings. You can tap and hold the offline map to get the address or navigate to that point. What you can’t do is set it as an origin, so you can’t plan a route on the map without being at your starting point. You can search for nearby POIs, though, which is handy. Quickly tapping the map brings up a different menu with advanced options such as avoiding certain roads and changing preferences, but it can be annoying when you trigger it accidentally.
Out on the road, the 3D navigation screen shows lots of information, including your ETA, the distance to the next instruction, a turn graphic, the name of the road you’re on and the one you’ll turn into. You can customise the details shown to your liking. Usefully, if two turns follow in quick succession, Navigon thinks ahead and shows both turn graphics. Another great feature is the speed limit sign that pops up in a corner, although this information wasn’t stored for all roads.
Voice instructions are easy to understand, and “bear right” or “bear left” comments were a big help, particularly on motorways where you have to keep to a particular lane. Road numbers are spoken if they have one, such as “turn left onto the A501”. Destinator (Asus) and CoPilot (i-mate) can read street names from their databases, but only if you choose text-to-speech instead of sampled instructions.