I remember this ancient site because of its description of those infuriating Lotus Notes command buttons. I came across those buttons as an IT guy trying to help my CEO with his new system. The way they operated was irritating, and patently wrong. Not “wrong” in one of those design-guru debates about which highlight colour to use, but properly wrong like a tap that turns the wrong way, or a “Hot” warning sign coloured blue.
The Navman S200‘s user interface is wrong in the same way, and it’s wrong all over the place. It has been some time since I have been so immediately and utterly frustrated with an electronic device.
It starts from the first moment you power the device up. The S200, like most modern navigation GPS devices, is touch screen. The screen, you see, is designed to register touches. So what does one do after turning it on and being presented with a map? You touch the screen. Probably somewhere in the middle.
What happens next is enough – if you, like me are a “UI” person – to make you spit out your coffee and burst into laughter. The Navman sits there, and plays you a little popup video, showing that you are meant to touch the left edge of the screen to bring up a utility screen, not the middle of the screen. Silly rabbit! Unfortunately if you’re a regular Joe (plumber or otherwise), I imagine it is more frustrating than amusing. So then you touch the edge of the screen, and a utility window slides out. It has no scrollbar, and the bottom half is missing. At this point if you accidentally touch either edge of the screen, the utility window will slide away to that edge. So maybe you think back to that helpful little video and touch the left edge of the screen again? Bad luck if the utility window has slid to the right edge. And it just gets worse from there.
So I chuckled my way through using this device for several weeks. I tried to make it work. I tried to find the settings that would turn off that stupid video and instead do something useful with the initial “touch” but it is nowhere to be found. Even when you’ve been using the device correctly, located a destination, then you correctly tap on the distance indicator to get your trip details, it still plays the video to berate you for tapping incorrectly away from the edge of the screen.
Navman, if you read one thing, please let it be this: I rarely swear on this blog, but seriously, when you got to the point in testing that you realised you needed a fucking inline video to show people how to touch your touchscreen device, you should have realised that you were doing it wrong.
Navman calls the interface “Glide Touch”. This sounds lovely, but with an unsensitive, shiny, sticky, plastic screen and zero information telling the user when to scroll, Glide is the last thing on my mind. Eventually I discovered that the little blue line physically off the side of the screen was actually not a stylistic addition: it represented a button. Tapping that little blue line brings up a big-button menu. Again, with zero indication that there is more than one page of buttons. If you happen to accidentally slide your finger upwards, you see that the menu can “Glide” upwards, revealing a second page of buttons. Atrocious.
And then there is the reflective screen. It appears as if Navman have hidden the matte LCD behind a purely stylistic reflective screen that is difficult to read (and sometimes downright hazardous) in a moving vehicle.
So in conclusion, the new Navman S-series: counter-intuitive, irritating, badly designed, and just plain stupid. Zero stars out of any amount you care to think of. I wanted to love this device because Navman was originally a New Zealand company, but until they sort out the design and interface, please get a TomTom, or a Garmin, or anything else.
Update: Oh, I almost forgot, the S200 is “top of the range”, so it comes with a flakey FM transmitter and a bluetooth speakerphone that is too quiet for either party to hear the conversation at anything above walking speed.