In years past it seemed like I was always adding new companies to the product database here. Every month there were new companies launching GPS devices, or existing companies expanding into the GPS market. The list of companies who are no longer in the North American PND market (or are nearly gone) continues to grow…. Dash, Fine Digital, Harman Kardon, HP, JVC, Lowrance, Mio, Navigon, Novogo, Polaroid, Sony, etc… Remember those? Now for the first time in quite some time there is a new game in town, Cydle. Is Cydle worth considering?
We have a Cydle T43H thread in our forums where I’ve listed a few thoughts, many of which I’ll echo here. There are also many user comments there as well, including a few happy owners. I’ll be reviewing the T43H shortly, but until then I’ll put out a few thoughts about the devices in general.
Several times per day I get asked “which GPS device offers both feature X, Y, and Z”. Often the answer is “none” with some devices that have one or two, but rarely all three. The Cydle will probably be a valid answer for those types of questions, as the feature list includes the kitchen sink. Widescreen? Check. Bluetooth? Check. Free traffic updates? Check. Multi-segment routing, movie player, calculator, photo viewer, calendar? Check. Lane Guidance– yup, that too.
One rather unique feature to Cydle is an HD radio receiver. So you can tune into your favorite HD radio station and listen to tunes over the radio if you didn’t dump some MP3 music into the device. One caveat though… there is only one radio tuner inside the device so if you are listening to HD radio, the Traffic receiver (which also works off radio) won’t give you traffic updates.
All of those features could have wide appeal. But here is the bad news… possibly.
Not Exactly “Simple”
Similar to Navigon’s tactic, Cydle has given the user everything they might ask for. But that comes at the price of simplicity and ease of operation. To a certain limit, I’m closer to a “less is more” kind of person and I think that is where the majority of the market is too. At one point while driving down the road I started to count all of the data fields on the primary map display. I was overwhelmed, so I pulled over and wrote it all down.
•distance to destination
•distance to next turn
•map display mode
•next turn icon
•satellite signal strength
•time at destination
•time to destination
•traffic signal strength
Yikes. You would think that it wouldn’t give any room left for the map! And to be fair, many of those fields are transparent. However many of them are also displayed in a tiny size to cram it all in. I’m still lucky enough to have near perfect vision, but from the driver’s seat I had a hard time reading many of those fields. Again… similar to a few Navigon devices. There are a good amount of ‘Help’ menus to get you through, although they also happened to be riddled with grammatical errors.
Do you know iGo?
But perhaps the biggest drawback is that the navigation software is just another incarnation of Nav-n-go’s iGo software. Don’t get me wrong… the software has appeal to a certain segment of users. But since Cydle doesn’t write the navigation software themselves, they are at the mercy of another company to address bugs or make any other software changes. Sure, as a customer Cydle will have a certain amount of leverage, but it isn’t as though Cydle is going to come out with a new breakthrough feature that nobody else has. The other big limitation is that the underlying Tele Atlas maps don’t come with the Speed Profiles database, the same data that powers TomTom IQ Routes. Without it the route quality and route ETA values noticeably suffer.
I think there will be a limited market for the Cydle devices like the T43H– mostly from former Navigon champions. Cydle will also appeal to people who really like tinkering under the hood and having every feature at their disposal, sans elegance or ease of use.