Gorgeous GPS Unit Has Most Smartphones Licked

Product: MotoNav TN765t GPS Unit

Manufacturer: Motorola

Wired Rating: 6

What!? Someone still makes standalone GPS devices?

You better believe Motorola does. And there’s a reason for that. Say you’re travelling overseas in a very rough, very foreign place. Are you going to trust a roaming iPhone to know which way to the embassy and which way toward a “disputed zone” where the unit of currency is human organs? No. You’re going to want a dedicated device like the MotoNav TN765t to show you the way.

The main appeal is the 765t’s screen. Motorola went large (and bright, and colorful) with a 5.1-inch LCD with lots of real estate. Nestled on the backside are six customizable soft keys and a connection for a vehicle dash mount. This slick design and cinematic 358 x 854 layout makes the 765t one of the best looking units we’ve used this year.

Actual navigation is a little scattered. A cold boot with relatively clear sky took just over a minute, but on-the-fly route updates while zig-zagging through Bay Area cityscapes proved slow. Navigating the device itself was an entirely different matter. Motorola was smart and went with a spartan, user-friendly interface that minimizes the need for traditional menus. For tasks like entering destination addresses or using the integrated trip planner, a series of animated panels slide into view for data entry. This task-driven “map as menu” approach rocked, and extra touches like 3-D landmarks, local search and lane guidance added polish.

Motorola took a slightly unorthodox approach to implementing the 765t’s extras. Instead of including a cellular radio for updating its live services, the device is largely dependent on a Bluetooth data connection with your phone. Staples like traffic updates are handled by an integrated FM-radio in the dash cradle, but rich metrics like fuel prices, weather forecasts and voice-powered search all require a data connection and subscription service.

This is ultimately the issue with the 765t. As far as presentation and ease of use go, it handily beats the average smartphone and even many GPS units. However, its reliance on a smartphone data connection is the four steps back as opposed to the interface’s two steps forward.

WIRED Aesthetically pleasing hardware and software. Both loud and clear while operating as a Bluetooth speakerphone. Responsive voice recognition ensures your hands stay at 10 and 2. Reasonably priced (the hardware at least). Supports importing contacts using Bluetooth.

TIRED Hardly the fastest GPS unit on the block. Only lasts about two hours with continuous use. Includes maps for the United States and Canada only — new maps cost $20 apiece.

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