Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK if you get it on sale., January 10, 2009
This review is from: Plenio VXA-2100 7-Inch Portable GPS Navigator (Electronics)
The main draw of this unit is that 7 inch screen. It's big and easy to read, but it's only 234x480 resolution. The low resolution makes things a bit grainy. Still, at the $100 price it's available at when on sale, that's still a bargain since it can be put to many uses in addition to the GPS functionality. You can watch videos, use as a screen for a back-up camera, and so on. It also plays MP3's.

The GPS functionality is very basic, but works as advertised. Please note that this unit (2100) has an external GPS sensor on a short cable together with a metal plate and adhesive, not a flip-up antenna like most units. Not a big deal as long as you expect it. (In fact, it could be an advantage for some people, depending on where you mount the unit.)

The screen is big and fairly bright. As an everyday GPS I think it works pretty well, though it has a pretty limited feature set compared with other popular units. A lot of people never use all those extra features and getting a 7 inch screen for $100 is definitely a good deal.

This unit does NOT have an internal battery (that big screen needs a lot of juice), so it can only be used in the car using the auto power adapter (included). However, you can use it in your home with an AC->DC power adapter. It takes 12V 1A positive tip, I happened to have a 12V 3A +tip power unit for a Plextor DVD drive laying around and that worked fine. You can also buy adapters for $10-20 online or at places like Radio Shack. Just make sure you get the right plug size with a positive tip.

Playing around with it indoors by a window it took a few minutes to find the satellites the first time, but after that it would usually get a fix within 20-30 seconds. 4 sats seems to be enough for this unit. Anyway, that's pretty good. Being able to use it indoors is helpful while you are learning how it operates. You can download the manual online and I would recommend doing that before purchase to get an idea of the feature set.

I have not had time to test the routing accuracy yet, I will try to return and update this review when I do. But suffice to say that for $100, a 7 inch active map display alone is pretty nice when traveling. I also did not test the FM transmitter, but I will do so and update the review. If the FM transmitter works well, that might add 1/2 star alone as that's a pretty nifty feature.

I give it 3 stars (average) based on low resolution of display, only basic GPS features, lack of customizations for view and zoom (it has only a few of the most basic), and doubtful upgrade options (that is, you're probably stuck with the maps as they come with the unit forever), and no AC adapter supplied with unit. Still at $99 it is a good value as most 7" units are way more expensive.

(If you are a gadget geek like me, consider it 4 stars as you can hack this unit and install other maps and routing software with a little work. However, most people buying this will never bother with that.)

Video playback: I found that the unit sometimes struggled with video at higher resolutions and frame rates. Convert your videos using something like ArcSoft Media Converter (widely used for portable media players) and keep the resolution low (e.g. 320x240) and the frame rate at 15-24 fps and you should be OK. Oh, and specify mp3 audio as it does not seem to support anything else. I did not explore this extensively, but I did confirm that it worked. The videos looked surprising good (given my low expectations). Definitely not top quality, but certainly watchable.

Image viewer: It works, but low resolution screen, so don't expect too much.

MP3 Player: Basic, but worked well enough.

Notes:

Hackers will know this device can be toyed with quite a bit. Here are some specs:

OS: MS WINDOWS CE.NET 4.2

CPU: ARM9 Core

RAM: 64M Bytes

FLASH Mem: 64M Bytes

DISPLAY: 7 inch TFT LCD (Touch Screen)

Takes standard SD cards.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 30, 2010 7:26:18 AM PDT
TunaHamming says:
Hey Bron Bron,
I had a question regarding how to hack into the unit and installin update software on this unit. Can you help me?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010 2:09:04 PM PDT
Bron says:
The best place I know to get this kind of info is gpspassion dot com. Search the forums there. And, remember, there's always a risk involved!

I regret that I cannot provide such assistance myself. Good luck!
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Review Details

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3.4 out of 5 stars (10 customer reviews)
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Bron "Bron"
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: Richmond, VA USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 224