As one of the largest (i.e. widest) standalone GPS systems to grace the UK, the ViaMichelin X-980T unsurprisingly packs in a wide array of features. The list includes real-time traffic info via FM-TMC, Bluetooth connectivity, Full UK post code search, maps of 20 European countries and a unique set of Points of Interest (POI) locations that includes restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions (more on that on the turn).
The unit itself is fairly bulky, especially thanks to its 4.3” LCD screen, and the full dimensions are 150 x 82.5 x 26.8mm and 260 g. A 416 MHz Intel processor backed up by 64Mb RAM and a SiRF Star III GPS receiver power the device.
One of the strengths of the ViaMichelin X-980T POI system is that it integrates the complete Michelin guides to Europe for 2006, which includes some 19,00 tourist sights and 2.5 million addresses. The particularly clever part is that the full information list includes a brief text summary, other relevant information and phone numbers. So picture the scene – you’re heading out for a posh meal with your missus and you want to book a table at some swanky Michelin starred restaurant but you’re already in the car, driving along. No problem, you can
pull in safely at the side of the road pull down the list of the nearest restraints to you location or destination or wherever, select one you like, double tap the phone number and have the call begin automatically using the X-980T’s integrated handsfree Bluetooth. That’s very slick.
Menu layouts and route programming is also one of the unit’s stronger points and that nice clear widescreen LCD is definitely used effectively to display both a decent sized map and clear direction instructions. The predictive text entry system is well designed too and allows you to either keep typing until you get down to one match, or get half way and select from a list if several.
Although the X-980T looks fairly unusual in the pics, it has a kind of quirky style that appeals to me and is undoubtedly helped along by the robust feel to it. Should you ever feel the need to part it from your vehicle and subsequently drop it or something, I’m pretty sure it survive a decent tumble.
I always take it as a bad sign when a touch screen GPS includes a stylus. Sure we all know that you’re not supposed to program it while screaming along the outside lane of the motorway, but come on, meet us halfway. The X-980T includes a stylus inconveniently tucked away at the back making hard to reach when attached to the window mount and sure enough, the touch screen sensitivity is quite up to par either. I found its responsiveness to be quite variable, probably depending on the outside temperature, which means that sometimes you can get by just fine by jabbing away with your finger, but at other times it continually takes a few hits to recognise where you’re pointing.
My only other gripe is that it really is a bit too big. That means that if you don’t want to leave it in the front of the car all the time, you’ll have quite a lot of gadget to lug around. And possibly as a result of the size and large screen, the battery life isn’t that wonderful either at around 3 hours – probably not enough for any serious on foot excursions.
Size: 150 x 82.5 x 26.8mm
Weight: 260 g
Processor: Intel 416 MHz
RAM: 64 Mb RAM / 256 Mb ROM
Operating system: Windows CE.net 5.0
Software: ViaMichelin Navigation DVD-Rom Europe
GPS: Integrated GPS receiver (SiRF Star III technology)
Overall I have been pretty impressed by the performance and usability of ViaMichelin’s GPS and if you’re into your Michelin rated restaurants, this small differentiator does do a good job of setting it apart from most of the other Sat Navs on the market.
At £450 it is one of the most expensive models available too but at least with that you get a alright selection of accessories including a carry case and one of best window mounts I’ve ever used.