HP Ipaq 314 Travel Companion - Review

HP Ipaq 314 Travel Companion - Review

HP Ipaq 314 Travel Companion - ReviewPros: Excellent navigation; fast performance; impressive media support; great value for money.

Cons: No built-in FM transmitter for media playback; TMC aerial not included.

Bottomline: HP has come up with a surprise performer, offering an excellent range of features at a very reasonable price.

Manufacturer: HP

This slimline device features full maps of Western Europe, a vibrant 4.3in widescreen display and a range of additional multimedia features to keep you entertained on the move. In addition to typical navigation, you’ll find media playback along with a range of other applications, including games that use the touchscreen display.

The 2GB of built-in memory stores the preloaded maps, so the SD-card slot is free for you to load multimedia content. These work extremely well and, where competitors often make it rather awkward to load and play back content, the Ipaq will automatically scan any attached memory card and populate a playlist for you.

The audio player uses ID3 tags to organise tracks, the photo viewer offers a range of slideshow transitions and the video player had no problem playing our test files. Impressed with the ‘Travel Companion’ features, we took the device out on the road to see how it handled traditional in-car navigation. Again, it worked extremely well.

The interface is well organised and uses large, clear buttons that can be easily operated on the move to help you plan and manage a route. There’s also the usual selection of navigation tools such as POIs (points of interest), full postcode searches and favourites, along with the ability to navigate to a city centre if you just want to be pointed in the right direction.

The device had a pretty fast time to first fix of less than two minutes, and we noted that the GPS receiver did particularly well in retaining our location, even when there was no line of site to satellites – when driving through a tunnel, for example.

The map view is very clear and, thanks to a combination of dedicated icons, depicting the next turning and text-to-speech functions for voice prompts, were both accurate and helpful. We were also very impressed by the adaptability of the map display.

If you tap the screen, the default menu bars that display location and trip information disappear to reveal zoom controls, elevation, panning, 2D/3D views and a full-screen mode. In addition you can drag the screen to scroll around maps, and a mechanical scroll wheel mounted onto the right-hand side of the device allows you to zoom from street level up to 3,000m away.

The 600MHz processor means all the device’s navigational functions, along with route calculation and recalculation, are extremely fast and responsive. We often found it particularly useful to be able to quickly zoom in or out to get a better view of the surrounding area.

There are plenty of settings that can be tweaked to adjust the device’s performance, and an effective route editor shows you where you’ll be going next and allows you to alter various parts of the journey to avoid potential travel blackspots. A speed camera database is built in, but although TMC information is available you’ll have to pick up a separate antenna to enable this functionality.

With the Ipaq 314 available to buy online for around £200, it represents extremely good value for money. Though the mapping and general travel assistance is not quite up to the high standards set by Tom Tom, the media functionality is some of the best we have seen on a sat nav. When you consider how much you’re getting for your money it’s is one of the most impressive all-rounders on the market.