Thursday, June 5, 2008

ASUS R700t

The Asus R700t portable navigation system features a slim design and has an integrated traffic receiver. You also get a complimentary subscription to the traffic services, integrated Bluetooth, and 3D building renderings.

While best known for its computer components and motherboards, Asus is branching out to all sorts of consumer electronics, including GPS. The Asus R700t is one of its first portable navigation devices, and we must admit we're pleasantly surprised. The slim device is easy to use and features some great navigation tools that aren't commonly found in other PNDs. For example, the R700t shows 3D building renderings on its maps, and it has an embedded traffic receiver. In addition, you get a free lifetime subscription to the Traffic Message Channel. Given all these great features, we were shocked and ultimately disappointed that the system lacked text-to-speech functionality. If Asus adds this technology and fixes some of the performance glitches we experienced during our test period, the company could compete well in this space. The Asus R700t is available now for $325.

At just 3.1 inches high by 5 inches wide by 3.1 inches high by 0.5 inch deep and weighing 7 ounces, the Asus R700t is one of the slimmest portable navigation systems we've seen in a while--quite a feat considering the number of features that are crammed into the device. On front, there's a 4.3-inch touch screen that shows off 65,000 colors at a 480x272-pixel resolution. The display has a light-sensing technology that will automatically optimize the backlighting for your current environment. During our test drives, we didn't have any problems viewing maps and the touch screen was responsive.

The Asus R700t has an impressive feature list, though there's one omission that perplexes us (more on this later). To start, the R700t is equipped with a SiRFstarIII GPS receiver and comes preloaded with TeleAtlas maps of North America, including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Planning a trip can start several ways. You can enter a specific address, coordinates if you know them, select a point of interest, or choose a location from your Favorites or History list.

As far as general performance, the Asus R700t could be sluggish at times, despite having a 400MHz processor. It takes several minutes for the Navigation application to start up, so don't freak out if you don't see anything happening for a while. Also, there were a couple of times where we had to reset the device after the system froze on us. It only happened twice but still, a little cause for worry.

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