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By Johan Keyter 1 July 2010

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When Navigon entered the South African market in November 2009 they were relatively unknown. Taking on local giants like Garmin and TomTom is no easy task, but as we've seen with the Navigon 6310, Navigon has the devices to do this. Their well priced Navigon 3300 max recently arrived at the office and we were glad to take Navigon back on the road.

Look and feel
 
Encased in a matte black shell of hardened plastic the device is sturdy and well built and is more aesthetically pleasing than most devices on the market. Initial setup (attaching the device to the mounting bracket) may appear slightly confusing at first, so leave some time to get everything up and running before setting off into the sunset.
 
Featuring a 4.3" touch-screen, the Navigon provided crystal clear display in all driving conditions. The maps are beautifully detailed and offers you a choice between stunning 2D and 3D maps.
 
The interface is also intuitive and easy to use; entering a destination is handled in three simple steps - city, street and number. It is very evident that Navigon put a lot of effort into their maps, and it really shows.
 
Features
 
The Navigon 3300 max sports a plethora of unique and helpful features with one of the most useful being Lane AssistantPro which aids you in choosing the correct lane when travelling on multiple lane roads or highways. The system advises the driver on the best lane to choose by highlighting it on the display. We found this to be very useful, especially when travelling on unfamiliar roads.
 
Speaking of unfamiliar roads, Navigon's 'Exit Guide' feature allows you to search upcoming highway exits for restaurants, gas stations and rest areas, taking the guesswork out of those long trips. 
 
And if you're still unsure about where you want to go you'll be spoilt for choice with the 'MyRoutes' feature, providing up to three additional route choices with distance and ETA (estimated time of arrival) calculated for each destination. These alternative routes aren't simply random, Navigon claims to have created the world's first intelligent GPS devices. Most of their new models (3300 max included) monitor the driver's driving data and recommend routes based on driving habits, speed limits, time of day and day of week.
 
When it's finally turn to head home the 'Take Me Home' function, found on most modern GPS's, has also been upgraded with PIN protection to prevent undesired individuals finding out where you live in case the device gets stolen. 
 
Maps
 
All locally purchased Navigon devices comes preloaded with full maps of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. Also included is Real Roadsign Display, which offers all road signs on screen in the same format and colour that they appear on the road.
 
You also receive a free map upgrade within the first 30 days of activating your unit, but for further updates you would have to use Navigon's FreshMaps service, where a two-year continuously-updating offer is available at $99. 
 
Unfortunately the map updates are only available from international servers at this stage, so you'll have to make the purchase online in dollars or euro's. We spoke with a representative of Navigon who revealed that plans are in motion to offer local users a 'scratch card' which they can purchase from retailers and then download their data without having to transfer the money through online channels. Negotiations to install a local sever are also under way.
 
One of the few problems we did experience with the 3300 max was that it sometimes took quite a while for it to fix on satellites. It does eventually find them but this could prove to be a headache if you're in a hurry.
 
We've also seen Live Traffic updates hitting the market on TomTom and Garmin devices, but have received no word yet from Navigon about this. Not that the 3300 max falls within the higher price bracket of these traffic-info GPS units. 
 
Conclusion
 
Overall the Navigon 3300 max is a reliable, feature-packed device that functioned as expected and sports a good looking design to boot. The price of this unit is probably one of its greatest assets with a recommended retail price of R1 599. It may not be the latest Navigon on the market, but if you're looking for a handy in-car GPS you'll be pleasantly surprised by the Navigon 3300 max.
PROS
Intuitive interface with great looking 2D and 3D maps.
CONS
Satellite fixing may be slow at times.
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