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A few years ago when Global Positioning Systems were all the rage, the Magellans and the Garmins dominated the market. Today, you can find GPS systems with Navteq maps virtually everywhere at crazy cheap price points. One such GPS unit is the Nextar Q4. Powered by Navteq maps, the Q4 features a 4.3-inch touch screen color display and Text to Speech Navigation with turn by turn voice prompting. The device, which retails for $299 but can be had for less than $175, is built by Nextar, a company that offers everything from digital photo frames, to water proof Bluetooth speakers, to MP3 players. The Nextar Q4 is one of many models in its line. In addition to the nagivation capabilities, the Q4 also plays MP3 audio files, sports an address book with support for 300 addresses, and has the capability to display photographs as well.
The Q4 does well enough feature wise in the navigation department. It offers 2D or 3D map viewing modes, day and night mode and an easy enough to use touch screen display. It isn't too cramped, and gets the job done for the most part. Maps are stored on a 2GB SD card, as is the device's Points of Interest database, of which the Q4 supports 1.6 million, giving you a fair amount to choose from if you are looking for say a Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon.
While the turn by turn directions will get you to your destination, there are a few annoyances such as the automatic route recalculation feature. There were instances when I deviated from the set destination, and the GPS wouldn't be able to quickly figure out what just occurred, telling me to turn left, then right for no apparent reason. Ignoring those requests, and driving down a road parallel to the one the GPS suggests, it kept trying to get me to turn left to get back on its intended road. Before every major street came, up, it would prompt me to prepare to turn left. Other systems I've used would just recalculate and take into consideration that I wasn't ready to turn left. In other instances, the GPS would tell me to follow the road "for a while," which I thought was a funny statement. It does feature the standard route choices though. You can calculate your route for the fastest route, the shortest, avoid freeways, and avoid tollways. You can always reset the route calculation settings when you want to get there a different way.
The Q4 is an ideal GPS for the first time user. It has a 4.3-inch screen, which isn't too small nor too big, enabling users in California to more easily comply with the new 2009 mount requirements as dictated by the State of California, enabling you to mount it in the left bottom corner of your car's windshield without the hassles of a bigger more unwieldy unit. To mount the device in the right corner of the windshield, (an alternative location), would be more of a hassle given the size of the display. Users in other states won't have this issue, so the Q4 would do well right where most people mount their units, right in the lower center of the windshield or on the dash. The Q4 has enough points of interest to keep things interesting at 1.6 million. Who needs 6 million POI's anyway? It comes with a one year warranty, which is nice, as well as a whole bunch of accesories, including a soft protective case, USB cable, car charger and AC adapter for charging the unit in the home or office, and the windshield mounting device, which works excellent and can hold the unit with no loss of suction. I really enjoy the touch screen of this unit as well as the bright display. There is no Bluetooth capabilities, but Nextar has other models at slightly higher price points that offer Bluetooth. It offers enough to keep you from getting lost, and is inexpensive compared to the name brand GPS units on the market. For more information, visit www.nextar.com
John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at email@example.com