Disclosure: Navman loaned me a sat nav at no cost for the purpose of this review. I received no payment and was not required to write a positive review.
The Navman Panoramic is the biggest sat nav on the market and looks more like a small tablet PC or a large smartphone than a standard sat nav.
I recently spent a day with a demo unit, completing a 250-mile loop that took me on rural roads, motorways and into (and out of) a large city.
At the time of writing, the Navman Panoramic cost £129.99 in Halfords.
Unit & Mounting
This is a large sat nav and although it is not the best quality unit I’ve seen, it’s perfectly acceptable. The mounting bracket is correspondingly chunky and is not something you would want to routinely remove from your windscreen.
Having said that, it offers a wide range of adjustment and does fix very securely to the windscreen, although the length of the arm that supports the sat nav means that it does wobble a bit when you are driving. The power cable has to be clipped into the mounting before you fit the sat nav – otherwise you can’t get the power plug into the base of the sat nav.
This unit and the mounting bracket will fit better in larger vehicles, such as vans, lorries and coaches, than it will in smaller cars.
Controls & Screen
The screen is the main attraction of the Panoramic – it measures 7″ diagonally and is the biggest screen on any current sat nav model.
Visually, it is fairly decent, if not the very best, although I did find it that when using the touchscreen facility, a fairly firm touch was required to enter commands. It wasn’t a problem though, even when the sat nav was on the bracket.
I also found that the sat nav generally felt a bit sluggish when entering commands, although everything worked correctly and the menu system was easy to understand.
Maps & Routing
The Navman Panoramic has European mapping in addition to full UK maps and uses TomTom’s IQ Routes system to try and avoid congested roads.
In general, I found that routing and mapping were good and re-routing was usually fast and accurate. When you enter a destination, you are presented with three routes – fastest, shortest and most economical – but I was not always convinced that these made the most of the possible options. It’s a good idea in principle, though.
Voice & Sound
The computerised text-to-speech voice on the Panoramic was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. Although it was clear enough and pronunciation was generally correct, the voice was rather dull and flat and the sound quality was not as good as on most other recent sat navs I have used – certainly not as good as TomTom or Garmin.
Volume adjustment was fiddly as it required you to go to the main menu and activate an on-screen control; there was no hardware volume control, which would be useful.
Despite its size, the Navman Panoramic is an entry-level sat nav in terms of its specification and price. It does not include any of the more advanced features you might look for on a sat nav: there’s no voice control, no live traffic, very little 3D mapping and no Bluetooth for mobile phone integration. Basic TMC traffic is an optional extra, meaning that you will probably still need to rely on the radio (or your smartphone) for traffic updates.
However, truck mode and safety cameras are both included with the Panoramic. Unfortunately, both are trials. Truck mode is only available for one month before you need to buy a £69.99 key to activate it, while safety camera (speed camera) warnings are available for three months before you have to purchase a £19.95 annual subscription.
I wasn’t able to test the truck mode as it had expired on my review model but the safety camera alerts worked well and included red light cameras.
The current speed limit is always shown on the screen and the Panoramic can be configured to provide an audible warning when your speed rises too far above the speed limit.
Pros: Big clear screen, could be useful in large vehicles. Simple to use, includes European mapping.
Cons: Size isn’t everything – much better 5″ choices available for the same price.
Overall, I thought the oversize screen on the Panoramic was unnecessary and I cannot see that many drivers will have any need for it. The sat nav functionality was average-to-good but it is only a fairly basic device – none of the more sophisticated features available on some £120+ sat navs are included.
I was much more impressed by the Mio Navman Spirit 485, which I thought was a good value sub-£100 model.