I used a Dialog SatNav for like a month, longer than I think I was supposed to. Thanks Dialog. What’s my review? The maps are quite useful, but with some annoying quirks. I would rather tape an iPad to my windscreen and use Google Maps, but Dialog’s SatNav is both cheaper and more detailed, if a bit more difficult to use.
The unit I used was I think the 5 inch one. It’s quite a generous size, sticks via suction cup towards your window and has a touch screen. You can charge it at home or in the car via the cigarette brake power-adaptor. I kept it plugged in via the latter. When it’s plugged in, the unit can detect whether the car is on or not, shutting itself off accordingly.
There’s a power switch on the top and the rest of the controls are mainly through the touchscreen. It’s OK for buttons, but not especially responsive for moving or zooming around.
The map Dialog is using is, IMHO, uglier than Google Maps, but far more informative. It has major shops, gas stations and other useful details, including, for example, exactly what type of petrol a gas station supplies. That detail is actually quite handy, going beyond what the road names are.
I didn’t like the color scheme of the map much, it’s kinda peach during the day and turns dark grey at night. When driving labels sometimes flicker in and out, making it a bit difficult to read at times. Again, the main appeal is in the detail of information, not presentation.
I tried the maps around Colombo, where they were excellent. They were OK along the southern coast but the Southern Expressway isn’t mapped yet. For that trip, you’re essentially flying through uncharted territory, according to the map. To be fair, I don’t think the Expressway has fully appeared on Google Maps either.
As long as you don’t touch anything, the interface is fine. The map detects where you are, shows how fast you’re going, everything. Out of the box it’s quite cool. Try to change stuff or find anything, however, and you can’t. At least I can’t. The zoom feature is only temporary, you can zoom out, but then you eventually come crashing back to earth. We tried zooming out to space and then crashing down a few times. That was fun for a while, but not the function I was looking for.
Basically, the SatNav is great for telling you where you are (I honestly did not know many of the road names it was telling me) and stuff in the neighborhood, but not good for search or anything outside the basic screen. It’s a touch screen, but you don’t want to touch it.
The Dialog SatNav is functional, but not that sexy. Pros are the detail and the main screen functionality. It has a lot of information and that info is instantly there. Cons are the ugliness, the interface and basically anything not on the main screen. Would I buy one? No, I don’t have the money. But if I did, honestly, I would save the money and pull over to use Google Maps. That said, I will miss knowing which roads end on Marine Drive.