For us, owning a 4×4 is about having a vehicle that doesn’t restrict the places we can go as much as a standard family sedan does. It allows us to go many places others can’t (we love that), it allows us to take the back road to our next destination and it lets us explore!
Our current 4×4 is primarily setup for touring and travelling. We have clocked up plenty of km’s travelling Australia over the past few years and really put our vehicle through its paces. For long distance and remote travel we are equipped with suitable tyres, we carry extra fuel, a recovery kit, an air compressor, second battery, tools etc., etc., and we have recently started using one of Hema’s HN6 Navigator’s and so far we are very happy with it.
Because I love technology and gadgets so much, the Navigator HN6, with its seemingly endless list of features was the ultimate piece of hardware and a “must have” for our adventures. It’s an all-in-one solution as a general GPS street navigation unit but the best part is that includes a comprehensive collection of Australian digital maps for use off-road. Yes, that’s right 4WD Maps on a GPS.
What’s in the box:
Where do I start?????
Once you power up the unit you are greeted with a menu where you will need to select between general street navigation or 4wd navigation. The 6” hi-resolution display makes it easy to see what you are doing. The touchscreen is operated using the stylus which is located on the bottom right hand side (you can use your fingers on the touch screen but the stylus is more precise and easier, especially you have chunky fingers like me).
Once you select your preferred mode the HN6 will load the appropriate application (iGo Primo for street nav and OziExplorer for 4wd). From here the HN6 becomes 2 very different units.
For street navigation
The iGo Primo software is very similar to most run-of-the mill street navigation platforms. We find it simple and straight forward to use. It incorporates all the standard search functions like address, town, places, type etc. Along with helpful visual 3D landmarks, graphical junction views and one thing we found really helpful (especially in the city) was advance lane guidance. There is nothing worse than driving through an unfamiliar city and you miss your exit all because you were in the wrong lane. The voice guidance is clear and the customisation of alerts and user preferences are very flexible. Safety camera alert, speed alert, voice prompts and route optimisation features are all standard and as you would expect from and any street navigation device. You can even get live traffic data (where available) to help you avoid delays in traffic!!! Now that’s handy.
The HN6’s processing speed (or “thinking speed”) is great, so much faster than many other GPS units I’ve tried. There is nothing worse than sitting and waiting for ages whilst the GPS is trying to figure out which way to go or waiting for the damn thing to find enough satellites to get a signal. A 500 MHz CPU and the 64ch GPS receiver takes care of those issues.
The search feature for locating towns, places etc. is very user friendly and incorporates a predictive text function. That is where you can begin to type the name of the town/street and it “predicts” what it is that you are looking for by showing a selection of similar items based on the letters you have already typed- this just makes the search process quicker for the user. Kinda like what a mobile phone does when you write an SMS/text message.
Once a destination has been entered, you are then given the option of selecting either the quickest, shortest or most economical route! It can even calculate an estimate of CO2 emissions (just in case we need to start paying a carbon tax every time we go for a drive).
Probably one of the best features I like with the street navigation program is being able select your favourite POI’s (points/places of interest) to be displayed on the screen at all times. At present I have selected fuel stations and caravan parks so when I arrive in a town I can just refer quickly to the HN6 to see where the closest one is. This is fully customisable and you can select from a huge list of POI’s to display from hospitals to restaurants and from supermarkets to even automotive repairers, which would come in really handy for Land Rover owners, (I’m just being cheeky).
I gotta mention too, with a HN6 you no longer have to put up with just a red dot or blue triangle as your location marker on the map. There are 25 different icons you can choose from. I am currently using the truck icon, but others include a 4×4, motorbike, bus, a flying carpet and even an army tank- maybe not really an important feature, but it’s just something a little bit quirky (kinda like the bra size chart I’ll mention a bit further on) that makes the HN6 a little different and I get a kick out of it!
Camps Australia wide
We do lots of travelling, camping etc. and love taking advantage of budget camping spots to save a few dollars here and there. We have invested in the latest edition of Camps Australia Wide 6 (CAW). A very comprehensive book with budget campsites, dump points and rest areas from all over Oz- very popular amongst travellers. This is where the HN6 gets even better for us, the HN6 is pre-loaded with the complete list of these campsites and caravan parks and are all marked on the maps and can be easily found via a search function. We use this great feature in conjunction with the CAW books to take care of finding our accommodation at the end of a day’s travel. A nice little extra- perfect for travellers.
For 4wd and off-road navigation
This is a whole other kettle of fish and where the HN6 comes into its own- imagine the ultimate software program for your computer where you can bring up a variety of concise digital maps suitable for planning your next off-road adventure. Imagine being able to plot out waypoints, add your own specific details to the maps, add your own photos of river crossings and campsites, create your own tracks, make trek notes, or create a comprehensive record of your last exploring, camping or 4x4ing trip for future reference! What if you could transfer this kind of info between your computer and the GPS unit that’s sits on your dash? Well, this kind of thing does exist. And I have it, I use it and I love it! And it’s for anyone who is serious about details, accuracy, functionality and who has to have the best of the best. It’s called a Hema Navigator HN6. Drooling yet? I don’t blame you if you are, I did too when I first took it out of the box.
OziExplorer has to be one of the most full-featured map viewing software I have come across. But I won’t lie to you- there is quite a lot to learn when it comes to using it, especially if you want to make the most out of all its features.
Hema’s dedicated version of the OziExplorer program for the computer is called “HN Explorer”. (Hema’s PC version is basically designed to integrate more seamlessly with the Navigator units than the generic OziExplorer version) and is included on the DVD or can be downloaded directly from the Hema website. HN explorer will give you a harmonious integration of all the features you will need (and want) from this true off-road navigation system. From trip planning right through to keeping records of where you have been- as basic or a comprehensive as you want it to be.
So, when you fire up the HN6 and select the OziExplorer application- you will be taken to what at first seems like a complicated, user-Unfriendly menu screen. But trust me, with a few worthwhile hours reading the instruction manual and playing hands-on as you get familiar with the icons and menus, you will be feeling quite comfortable in the driver’s seat. It’s just like looking at the detailed paper maps but in digital format with the navigation functions at hand.
It would be quite hard for me to try and tell you in a product review just how the 4wd navigation program works to the point you would feel like you have learnt enough to “want and go and buy one”. But all I can say about the HN6 in general is that you could not possibly want any more features from a GPS unit for ON or OFF road use.
I found the mounting bracket to be very secure, perfect for use off-road over bumps and corrugations. It holds on really well which is important. I found the street nav to be fairly basic (which is all you really need). It’s simple to use and I like how the road ahead, junctions, 3D landmarks, lanes, exits etc. are represented by graphics on the screen. So when I’m travelling through Sydney on the M7 and I need to exit in 800 metres for example, I get plenty of notice and a graphic appears representing the lanes and gives me an easy visual indication of which lane I need to be in. There are some other cool features too, like a Trip Monitor, Unit Converter (for measurements, weight, temperature, speed, mass etc.), Fuel Economy calculator and even an international clothing size chart??????? Yeah I don’t know why either, but hey it’s there for you to use if you ever need it! I used it to learn that a D cup bra in the UK is only a C cup here in Aus. Very handy indeed!
It also incorporates inbuilt Bluetooth for connection to your mobile phone, an FM transmitter so the audio etc. can be routed through the cars radio, a 3.5mm headphone jack and even a reversing camera can be plugged in.
My only gripe would have to be with the battery life, it doesn’t like being unplugged for long. But when you take into consideration its processing power and large colour screen this is to be expected. After all, you will mainly use it when you have access to power anyway so it’s not really a big issue.
The other thing is that it does take a while to get use to navigating the complicated 4wd program and menu structure. Some of the menu items aren’t obvious and unless you knew where to find them you could spend quite a while looking for them. I guess this is why Hema includes a very comprehensive yet easy to read (although massive) instruction manual. A few hours browsing it will have you sorted though.
After you buy it:
Once you get the unit out of the box you will need to fully charge it (as tempting as it is to start playing, you will need to wait). It will give you a great opportunity to get started reading that instruction manual and install the DVD software on your computer.
Once you are ready to roll, hop on the computer and load up the Hema website and register your product for warranty and support (create a user account as well).
It’s the easiest way to keep the HN6 up to date. Your user account will allow you to receive the 2 years’ worth of free map updates (including POI’s, streets, safety cameras etc.).
All the after sales support is there on the website with a FAQ’s page and a great “knowledge base” to reference info on the Navigators. Ask your own questions and get technical support.
Check out Hema’s full range of digital maps- you can buy online and download it directly onto your device- how good is that…………………..
The Hema Navigator HN6 comes with a 12 month warranty
I truly recommend the Hema Navigator HN6 - I love mine! With one of these gadgets you will truly be as Hema says- “Prepared to explore”