Review: AVT PN-403 Intelligent Navigation System

If you’re looking for a personal navigation system that is both portable and flexible, you may want to take a look at the AVT (Audio-Video Technology) PN-403.

The PN-403 looks sleek, with its glossy black finish and minimal design. So if we’re talking first impressions, suffice to say, we’re definitely impressed. Rest assured that AVT’s navigation system will blend in well (and perhaps even improve) your car’s interior.

On the left side of the unit, you’ll find all the ports – the headphone jack, microSD slot, USB port as well as a pin-sized reset button. On the top you’ll discover the power button, and the mono speaker is on the rear. Measuring at 122mm x 81mm x 12.4mm and weighing around 205grams, it’s very portable, slightly larger and heftier than your average smartphone.

Turning it on/off requires you to hold down the button for a few seconds, and the software boots up relatively fast, ready for you to use. Coming from a complete shutdown, it does take a few minutes to acquire a GPS signal and requires you to be completely outside of any structures. Some users may get a impatient especially if they’re rushing towards a destination – however when waking from its “sleep” state, the PN-403 detects a signal faster, which is great.

It comes packaged with a USB cable, car charger, and the car mount. You will always want to make sure the car charger is with you, since the PN-403’s battery life leaves more to be desired. The car mount is excellent though – it’s easy to install and we were surprised at how extremely secure it was, holding on tightly despite hitting the many bumps and humps on the roads that our country is known for. Not once was the PN-403 in any danger of falling off.

Once it’s in place, the PN-403′s bright 4.3-inch widescreen is easy to see even when under direct sunlight, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to clearly see the map, which can be viewed in either 2D or 3D graphics. Moreover, it also features well-crafted 3D models of elevated roads or flyovers to give you a better visual of where you’re heading.

The PN-403’s database contains up over 300,000 points of interest (POI) and house numbers, and it was surprising how it detected numerous locations, ranging from popular restaurants in the area all the way to small shops.  At times, the rather small 4.3-inch display does become a factor, and makes the map a little congested and text heavy, which some users might find confusing.  Nevertheless, the display is actually pretty great – it’s bright with rich colors and is visible even when viewed in direct sunlight.

Designating your destination is easy – you can either specify an intersection, an exact address or even longitude/latitude, just to name a few. Once you begin typing where you want to go, the PN-403 quickly finds suggestions after only a few letters, which makes it very efficient. The touchscreen is very responsive, and you’ll have no problems telling the PN-403 where you want to go.

Download:

Once you’ve put in your destination, you have four route options to choose from: Fastest Route, Highway prior, Avoid Highway, and Shortest Route. We found that choosing “Highway Prior” was the most accurate and straightforward, since choosing the others sometimes guided us to misleading (and even impossible) routes.  On more than one occasion, when choosing the “Shortest Route”, we were directed to pass through subdivisions or closed roads. Fortunately, the PN-403 updates quickly during missed turns and speedily re-directed us to alternate routes.

Overall, vocal instructions were clear, although there were still a few vague descriptions every now and then, which has always been a problem with all navigation systems anyway. The PN-403 did warn us whenever there was a “speed camera ahead” which is great, and we secretly hoped it would tell us if there were MMDA lurking around the corner as well.  Nevertheless, even if the audio is unclear, you can always visually confirm it on the display anyway.

The mono speaker on the rear is relatively clear, but could use improvement. The overall volume is a little soft, and when turned up to its maximum setting, the audio distorts heavily.  So you’ll have to keep your windows up, and play music at a bare minimum (or not play any at all) so that you can effectively hear the instructions. We would suggest that you use an adapter that lets you connect the PN-403’s headphone jack to transmit the audio to your car’s speakers for better sound.

What makes AVT’s navigation system unique is that it can also be a portable media device. Using a microSD card of up to 32GB, you can view photos, listen to music, and play a few games, just to name a few things you can do.  Having the ability to access multimedia makes the PN-403 very versatile –you literally have a “tablet” of sorts wherever you are, and it can be useful in keeping kids entertained during long trips.

Overall, the PN-403 performed well, at least when we tested within Quezon City. It would be interesting to see how it does in other urban areas such as Makati (with its tangled web of one-way roads) and further out of the town, where it could actually prove to be more helpful.  Nevertheless, the AVT PN-403 performed as advertised and impressed us with its detailed database and relatively accurate instructions.

 

What’s hot:

-          Fast real-time update
-          Responsive touchscreen
-          Great display

 

What’s not:
-          Acquiring signal takes time
-          Speaker could use improvement

 

Buy Meter: 8.5

 

Bottomline:

If you’re looking for a portable personal navigation system, you can’t go wrong with the AVT PN-403.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 122mm x 81mm x 12.4mm
Weight: 205g
Display: 4.3-inch Colour TFT Touch Screen
CPU: Atlas IV 533MHz
OS: Microsoft WinCE.NET 5.0
Memory: 64MB/Flash 128MB (SDRAM), microSD up to 32GB

Features:

Built-in GPS receiver with high sensitivity
2D/3D Map Display w/ Auto Zoom Function
Over 300,000 Points of Interest (POI)
Photo Viewer, MP3 Player and Movie Player
Built-in Mono Speaker 2W
USB 2.0 High Speed Support Activesync
Rechargeable
  • Guest101

    i just bought one at winterpine araneta…..

    • marc

      been using it for 7 months and so far no issues… have to play music at low level to hear the speakers though….. Just hooked it up to your car audio and you good to go….

  • Bobby

    “The PN-403 did warn us whenever there was a “speed camera ahead”

    Do they only have speedcams, not all speedlimits, like Carnavi for example?

  • Joseph

    How long should the initial charging take? I connected it to my pc way before i slept ( that was 8pm ) but when i woke up in the morning it is still the battery charging indicator shows that it is still charging (still scrolling).