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You're probably not going to choose to buy a Landrover just because it has a wonderful GPS option, but you can definitely add this option to your car specification and be confident you're getting an excellent unit for the cost.

Currently this unit is amazingly better than all other units tested, suffering none of the limitations, poor design, or problems, and offering clever and helpful extra features.

 
 
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Landrover GPS Navigation Unit

The built-in Landrover GPS system is one of the best units tested
 

Recessed into the central part of the dashboard (thereby shading it from direct sunlight), the large (7" diagonal) screen GPS display has touch controls plus two extra buttons beneath the screen, and can be seen here in split screen mode with a second screen window on the right hand side of the main display window.

Part of our series on GPS - additional articles to be published in coming weeks - see links on the right.

 

 

The Plenio VXA-3000 offers a lot of product at a very reasonable price.  It is well suited for 'average' GPS users, but not so well suited for a 'power' GPS user, and because of its marvelously massive screen size and corresponding increase in weight, it is not quite as convenient a unit for a road warrior to travel with.

Costing little more than one third the price of a top of the line 7" screen equipped Garmin StreetPilot 7200, the Plenio unit is following the trend to greatly reduced pricing in GPS receivers, while still offering a good feature set and user interface.

Recommended for people seeking a middle of the range type unit.


Landrover LR3 GPS Overview

In 2005 Landrover upgraded their previous very rudimentary GPS system to a state of the art full 'moving map' type GPS receiver, offering a large 7" diagonal screen with an unusually high resolution (640 x 480).  Map data is stored on a DVD that is read in a unit mounted underneath the front passenger seat.

The GPS unit itself is located in the top part of the dash, in the middle island between the driver's instrumentation and the passenger's glove compartments.  This is a good location for the driver, and it is not necessary to look down too far (and away from the road) to see the GPS display.

The unit is excellent in operation and moderately intuitive to use and program.  It has very sophisticated capabilities, a good user interface, and a wonderful split screen display that greatly enhances the amount of information you can conveniently see at a glance.

Landrover was so proud of their new GPS system that they created some rather cheesy television advertisements that purport to show a Landrover navigating a plane.  Here's an excerpt from one of them, and some more background on the project.

While it is unlikely the excellent of the GPS unit will encourage you to buy the Landrover that is wrapped around it, you can be reasonably assured that for most uses, you're much better off paying the extra cost to order the GPS unit when specifying your new Landrover rather than paying a probably lesser amount to buy a third party aftermarket GPS unit and adding it subsequently.

Using the Unit

The unit switches on when you turn the ignition to the first position, and stays on until you turn it off again.  When the unit first powers up, you have to press an 'Agree' key whereby you agree to a bunch of legal nonsense about Landrover not being liable for errors in the maps or if you have an accident as a result of the GPS unit - this becomes a tiresome hassle after a while.

Much more bothersome than the little starting up ritual of agreeing to their lawyer language is the way the unit will automatically disable most of its programming functions any time your vehicle is moving.  Again, safety considerations have caused Landrover to do this, but these limitations can be very annoying, and doubly so if you have a front seat passenger who could be perfectly safely programming and managing the GPS/navigation duties while you are writing.  A sensible compromise would be for the 'front passenger seat occupied' sensor to also allow the GPS to work with no limitations if a front passenger is present.

With these limitations, it becomes necessary to stop the vehicle to enter a new address - this can be a major hassle if you're on a freeway, for example.

Nothing was needed to cause the unit to immediately start showing exactly where the vehicle was.  But you'll probably want to tweak the settings for your personal preferences - for example, I turned on the split screen on mine, with the right hand screen having a 2 mile scale and north up setting, and the left hand screen using being set for 1/8th or 1/16th of a mile and direction of travel north.  This gives me the two critical pieces of information I most commonly want - on the right hand screen, I have a 'map type' view which shows me where I am in the general region I'm driving through - the strategic view, and the left hand screen (the tactical view) shows me what is happening immediately around me, with the same orientation as what I'm seeing in real life - if something is on the left on the map, it will be on my left in real life, too.

The unit quickly powers up and gets a satellite lock almost instantly (most of the time).  If it doesn't lock onto the satellites immediately, and/or when you're in a tunnel or somewhere else where there's no satellite signal, the unit has a dead reckoning feature that continues to computer where you are based on your speed/distance/direction of travel.  This can be a life-saver in unfamiliar cities where regular units can sometimes lose signal and then get very confused, causing you to drive several city blocks without having any idea where you are!

As a techy type, I'd have liked the unit to have a satellite information display like the Garmin units, showing how many satellites are feeding signals to the unit and where they are in the sky, and giving an accuracy calculation, and I'd have liked the unit to show the exact time received from the satellites, too (or have this fed into the car's digital clock).  Some more 'trip computer' type data would also have been welcomed, and a way to download or upload points of interest and routes would be a further bonus.

But, much as I'd like these extra features, I'm not sure I've ever been disadvantaged by their absence.

The Bottom Line

Landrover's GPS unit is an excellent unit in terms of capabilities and performance.  It is relatively easy to learn, and has extra layers of sophistication to keep power users satisfied.

Feature Analysis
 

Feature

Test Unit

Model

pre-installed Navigation system option in 2006 Landrover LR3 HSE

Price

Not priced separately (standard in the HSE) but probably about $1000 - $2000 option in the SE and regular models)

Review Date/Details

Tested April 2007, with unit unchanged from when vehicle was received in Dec 2005.

Warranty

Included in new vehicle warranty (4 years/48,000 miles)

Support

Through the local dealership.  This is a potential inconvenience - the car mechanics aren't necessarily familiar with the operation of this high tech electronic unit, and aren't conveniently available on call for help.

Landrover (and other similar vehicle manufacturers) need to offer a direct to end user (800) number giving technical support in the operation of the increasingly complex and sophisticated vehicle electronics included in modern day motor cars.

Inclusions

The unit comes with :

  • The installed unit in the vehicle dash

  • External antenna mounted on vehicle roof

  • Map DVD with maps for the US and Canada, preloaded into the DVD reader under the passenger seat

  • Instruction manual

Runs out of the box

Yes, everything is pre-installed in the vehicle.

Size

The screen measures 3.8" x 6.2".  The rest of the unit is behind the dash and its size is neither apparent or relevant.

Weight

n/a

Mounting Accessories

Preinstalled in vehicle and can't be easily removed.

Screen Size

The unit has a lovely large screen, with a 7" diagonal.

3.8" x 6.2" =  10:16 aspect ratio

Another nice thing is that the unit is mounted high up on the dash panel.  Some other vehicles (eg Mercedes) have their units low on the dash, making it more of an inconvenience to move your gaze from the road ahead to the unit and then back up to the road again.

Screen Pixels

The screen is believed to be a regular/traditional VGA screen with 480 x 640 pixel resolution.

126 pixels/inch vertically

103 pixels/inch horizontally

This is excellent pixel density and allows the screen to very clearly display all information.

Screen Colors

Unknown but sufficient.

Screen Visibility

Reasonably good.  The unit has some shielding around it to reduce the amount of direct sun reflection, but it can't be tilted or swiveled.

Screen Backlighting

Yes, multiple levels offered.

Day/Night Mode

In theory the brightness automatically changes when the headlights go on or off, but there is no change in the color settings.

Controls

The unit itself comes on when the ignition is switched on and goes off when the ignition is switched off.

There are two buttons beneath the unit to toggle through different screen modes (the left button selects on-road or off-road mode and the right button selects GPS, 4WD/vehicle information, or setup options).

All other controls are presented on the touch screen.

Interactive help files available

No

Limited functionality when moving

Yes, most options will not work while the vehicle is in motion.  This is very annoying and can also be very inconvenient.

Graphics processor speed

Very good

GPS Receiver

Unknown but excellent sensitivity and very quick satellite lock.

It very rarely loses satellite lock while driving, and has outperformed other test systems with built in antennas.

Max number of satellites simultaneously tracked

Not stated, but believed to probably be 12.

WAAS enhanced

Unknown

Dead reckoning capability

Yes - it seems to receive feeds from both the steering and also the wheels so it knows if your direction is changing and the distance you are traveling.

Satellite display

No.  Unfortunately no information on satellite reception is available.

Accuracy calculation

No

Can the unit show you your current latitude and longitude and compass heading

Yes, it shows latitude and longitude on the off-road driving screen, and has compass headings on all screens.

Can the unit show you your current altitude

Yes, but rather than showing an 'exact' number of feet above sea level, it rounds to the nearest 50'.

Can the unit show you the exact time

No

External antenna capability

Yes.  The unit has an external antenna mounted on the center rear of the roof.

CPU processor speed

Not known, but the unit performs calculations and screen updates and everything very quickly.

Trip Computer functions

None.  This is in a separate part of the vehicle, and displays averages not instantaneous measures for fuel economy plus advises miles to go before the fuel tank is empty.

Battery Type

Connected to the car battery.

Battery Life

n/a

Power Input

The unit is prewired into the car.

Auto Power On/Off

It switches on and off when you turn the ignition on and off.

When you turn the ignition back on, it automatically resumes any existing journey navigation.

 

Mapping

Map provider

Navteq

Countries provided

US and Canada.

Update policy, frequency and cost

Updates on DVD are issued every year or so, and cost about $200.

Other countries also available

In theory, yes, but are you really going to take your Landrover to Europe?

How is map data loaded into the GPS receiver

Master information is on a DVD-rom disk, information is loaded into the receiver from this disk via a reader drive underneath the front passenger seat.

Can the entire US be loaded into the unit

Yes.  The unit holds all of the US and Canada.

Speaks Directions

Yes, can be switched on or off, and over-rides other sound sources through the car sound system when it needs to make announcements.

Speaks Street Names

No, but does speak some Highway names (for numbered highways).

Languages spoken

You have a choice of eight different voices for speaking the commands, including UK English, Spanish, and American English by both a man and woman.

The system can display its prompts in a wide variety of European languages as well as English.

2D/3D

Yes - you can independently set each of the two halves of the split screen to either 2D or 3D

Can you choose between North up or Direction of Travel up

Yes - you can independently set each of the two halves of the split screen to either North up or Direction of Travel up.

Split screen mode

Yes.  This is a wonderful feature - I always have the screen split with the left hand screen having a detailed 'direction of travel up' map of the immediate vicinity, and the right hand side of the screen showing a larger map of the region in 'north up' mode same as you'd see on a map.

Map Scale Shown

Yes, and you manually set the zoom level rather than be forced to accept the tyranny of an auto zoon feature.

Number of POIs provided

Unknown but seems to have comparable information to other units claiming over 1 million POIs.

Number of user POIs that can be added

100

POI information includes phone number

Yes, you can program a lot of information into each POI entry, and if creating a POI with a phone number, can then phone the POI's number if you wish, if your phone is connected via Bluetooth or the specific hardwire connection available.

POI proximity alert

No

Speed limit warner

No

Does it show both miles and kilometers

Yes

 

Route Planning

How to enter addresses and other data

Your choice of either QWERTY or ABСВ table layout with forward predicting of the next letters in the name you're entering.  You type onto the unit's touch screen.

Can you build a multi-stop journey with waypoints

Yes

Will it solve the 'traveling salesman' puzzle

No

Can you program assumed speeds for different road types, and if so, how many different road types?

No.

The unit does calculate/predict how long it will take to get to your destination, but this prediction is useless - it is based on your recent average speed and makes no allowance for road types.  For example, if your journey is 50 miles on the freeway and then 15 miles on surface streets, while you're on the freeway it assumes you'll keep driving (perhaps at 70+ mph) even when off the freeway and on the surface streets.

Can you choose different settings for different types of vehicles

No

Can you program preferences for road/route types

Yes, you can choose to prefer or avoid major roads, restricted roads, ferries and toll roads

Does the unit present you with multiple route choices to choose from

Yes.  You are shown three routes on a map and given information about distance and estimated traveling time.  You can 'drill down' to get more statistics about each route - eg time on freeways, if ferries are involved, etc.

The three routes are shortest, quickest, and normal.

Can you choose between fastest/quickest and shortest route options

Yes

Will it show breadcrumb trails?

Yes

 

Extra Features

Bluetooth

More or less, and not really needed.  Other functions in the vehicle do have Bluetooth capability, and you can do things such as calling the phone number associated with a POI via Bluetooth.

Export data to laptop

No

Can it play MP3 or other digital audio

No

Can it play MP4 or other digital video

No

Can it display pictures

No

Integrated with real time traffic reporting

No

Integrated with other location services

No

Other features

It has voice recognition so you can command/control the unit via voice command.  This is useful when driving, but the voice recognition system doesn't work very well for my voice/accent, and there's no way to 'train' the system to recognize different voices/accents.

Can be set to detour around areas (for example, where road works might be, or traffic accidents).

 

Read more in the GPS articles series

See the links at the top right of the page to visit other articles in our GPS series.

 

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Originally published 11 June 2007, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 

GPS Related Articles

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Beginner's Guide to GPS part 1
Beginner's Guide to GPS part 2
Beginner's Guide to GPS part 3
How to Choose a GPS Navigation Receiver
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Using a GPS internationally
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Garmin Nuvi 660 review
Garmin Nuvi 680 review
Garmin StreetPilot 7200 review
GlobalSat GV-370 review
Hertz NeverLost Portable GPS review
Landrover LR3 built-in GPS review
Plenio VXA-3000 review
TomTom Go 930 GPS review
Trafficgauge Mobile Traffic Map review
Via Michelin X-930 review
 

 

 

 

 

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