Google recently switched on full navigation for Android devices here in the Netherlands. Suddenly, my HTC desire doubled as a PND (Personal Navigation Device). The maps on my TomTom were starting to get old, and updating them costs about as much as a new unit, so Google’s timing was perfect. All I needed was a holder to affix my phone to my car’s windscreen. Luckily, MobileFun offered to send me a review unit of their “HTC Desire car kit“.
The “pack” consists of a car charger and a suction cup phone holder. One of the first things I noticed when it arrived is that to holder has a marking on the back that says “I-3G”. This sounded suspiciously like “iPhone 3G” to me. I contacted MobileFun and it turns out that this is indeed an iPhone holder, that also fits the Desire quite well. Despite feeling a little cheated about this being a “generic” product rather than tailor-made, I have to agree that it holds the HTC very well.
With three joints and a lever style suction cup, the holder is easy to use and position. Considering its low price, it feels sturdy and I have no problem entrusting my robotic sidekick to it. The charger also works well. Without it, constantly downloading Google Maps and using the GPS would drain the phone’s battery. It’s a good thing these two things come in a bundle.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Desire has an AMOLED screen. This type of display is known to have very poor performance in direct sunlight. Somehow, in my car this is not much of a problem. Your mileage may vary. Also, this is no car kit in the sense that it amplifies audio or has a microphone for handsfree calling. You’re still have to use the Desire’s abysmal speaker for that.
As for Google’s navigation software itself, I found it to be quite usable. I’m not sure of this is the case in other languages, but the Dutch female voice sounds a little distressed. As if she’s more nervous than you are approaching that large intersection. And for some reason she’s consistently late in telling me to exit a roundabout. This is only a reminder, because it will tell me beforehand what exit to take, but still.
If you’re seriously considering using your HTC as a PND, I’d recommend getting this bundle. It’s cheap and works well. Chances are that a Desire-specific car kit will become available eventually, but why wait?