Written on: 30/11/2004 by CAA (1 review written)
Ease of use. Great interface, Future proof
Slow response to remote control. Price may be too high for some.
Blaupunkt TravelPilot DX-V Satellite Navigation System Review
Whether it's because today's society is getting lazier, or that we require more accuracy when traveling in today's ever changing cities and suburbs, or just the simple case of keeping up with the Jones', navigation systems for automotive use have forged their way into the marketplace.
There are now a number of different systems available to the consumer, as both original equipment (OE) in a select few luxury cars and four wheel drives, or also as aftermarket equipment.
We thought it would prove useful and interesting to take a look one of the more commonly available systems and put it through its paces.
Blaupunkt needs no introduction and are arguably at the forefront of the technology and one of the industry leaders in navigation systems.
Their latest claim to fame, and rightly so, is the TravelPilot DX-V. Available in two configurations as either a standalone widescreen monitor with remotely mounted computer, or as a completely self contained monitor and computer in a standard dashboard 'DIN' size.
For our intended application, the widescreen monitor version was the system of choice and we set about installing and testing this system right away.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
Upon opening the box, you are greeted with independently packaged components and wiring looms. There are a number of different installation options for this system and quite soon we had sorted through all the components to be left with only the necessities for our installation.
The enclosed manuals offer simple yet easy to understand wiring diagrams and it had soon become apparent that there were a few wires on our 1995 E36 BMW that would need to be located before commencing installation.
The Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) wire is used to determine whether the vehicle is stationary or in transit and if so, at what speed. In our case the task was made easier as the VSS wire has been provided for in the factory head unit loom plug.
The second wire required is what is referred to by Blaupunkt as the "back up lights" wire. Don't let that term confuse you, as a quick reference to the manual confirmed this wire is actually the positive wire of the reverse lights. This is used primarily so the system can be aware that the vehicle is actually reversing.
Once these wires were located and probed with our trusty test light, it was time to get on with the job and mount the rest of the components.
Installation was relatively straight forward. We chose to mount the 'onboard computer' in the boot for now, and we quickly set to work performing a custom flush mounting job of the monitor into the centre console area.
After providing the simple power and earth connections to the computer, a small GPS antenna of about 30mm square also requires installation. This antenna can be mounted on the vehicle externally with the brackets provided, but we found it just as effective to mount it between the parcel shelf metal and trimming. You have to ensure it is not installed under any metal surfaces so as to maintain signal integrity. In our case the antenna had a direct line of sight up through the rear window.
The final cable is simply the multi-core cable that plugs into the screen at the front of the vehicle and we're ready to apply power for the first time.
At this stage, don't do as we did and forget to drop the mapping software CD-ROM into the computer!
With all cables and wires in place, a flick of the ignition switch and the screen lights up, always a good sign! Our first and only problem encountered was now apparent. The unit by default is in German language. I don't know about most installers, but we don't speak German and were fortunate that Andrew, one of the Blaupunkt Sales Reps trotted in through the door. With a quick flick of a few keys the unit was displaying menus in English and we were back on track.
The system provides a few simple self-check features to ensure all the required wires are connected and operating correctly. All of our connections were confirmed and it was on to the road for calibration.
To calibrate the DX-V system the vehicle simply requires it to be driven for anywhere between 8 - 15kms. It even provides a real time bar graph display to tell the user how far along the calibration process is. In no time at all the calibration was completed and we were ready to start testing the unit's capabilities and features.
ON THE ROAD
Eager to try out the TravelPilot DX-V we left the mess behind and headed out onto the streets of Melbourne. The first task was to navigate the menu system of the unit (not whilst driving). This proved much easier than expected. You simply enter your desired suburb by using the arrow keys on the remote control to select the name by letter, and confirm with the "OK" button. The suburb selection works on a process of elimination, narrowing down the list of available suburbs with each letter chosen until you are left with the name of the suburb you are looking for.
Next you select the street name in a similar process and finally the house or shop number. This entire process takes on average about 30 seconds and then the system is ready to guide you on your way.
There are also selectable options to avoid toll ways and freeways, but in this case we simply wanted the fastest route to a destination on the other side of town.
A new feature of the DX-V is the "split screen" function. While traveling, a real time map is displayed showing the surrounding roads and streets. At the same time the status box delivers navigational instructions. A pleasantly spoken female voice commands instructions such as "prepare to turn left" or "turn right in 300 metres". The system is even programmed to understand multi-lane divided roads and ensures that you are in the correct lane for a future required turn.
A great feature we found out on the road was the systems ability to recalculate and adjust the route should you take a wrong turn. It will simply display and speak the instructions to find your way back on track. This feature is also handy should you take a turn to avoid some congested areas or traffic. However with that being said, we found in one case to get us back on track it asked us to turn the wrong direction into a one way street. Our common sense told us other wise!
The onscreen information displayed is quite informative. The DX-V displays the current time, estimated time of arrival and distance traveled and remaining.
After three weeks extensive testing and use, we have been unable to find any areas or streets in Melbourne that Version 9 of the mapping software does not recognise. To say we were more than impressed is an understatement. The system is extremely accurate and in all cases announces "you have reached your destination" within 10 metres of the programmed destination address.
The CDROM also includes an up to date White Pages directory. This allows you to punch in the name of a business and the system will automatically find the address and begin calculating a travel path for you.
A new updated version of the software is generally released annually and is available from all Blaupunkt stockists for about $90.00
There is no doubt that the TravelPilot DX-V is a high quality navigation system. It's also apparent that the unit has had many revisions and what we now see is the result of Blaupunkt development and the feedback from previous models. The accuracy in navigation is second to none and the software interface is both user friendly yet feature packed.
Sales representatives or even tradespersons regularly on the road will greatly benefit from the addition of the TravelPilot DX-V to their vehicle with the time that can be saved from wrong turns and direct routes.
Drop into you nearest Blaupunkt stockist for a demo of this system and some of the high quality products Blaupunkt offers.
The total cost of this system may still be out of reach for some, but it certainly is money well spent.