Owning a GPS unit was once seen as the only way to move away from the static street directory. As smartphones added navigation applications and cars came with built-in GPS navigation the reasons for buying a windscreen mounted GPS unit grew smaller. For years it was common to see a Navman mounted in cars and taxi’s, today they seem to be replaced by dashcams. A dashcam is a camera that is mounted to your car to record everything you see. It is the second pair of eyes in the case of a car accident where evidence is required. In many countries this is becoming a standard practice.

Navman have a new product on the market and we’ve been testing it for a number of weeks now. It takes their successful GPS navigation and adds the features of the a dashcam people are rushing to buy. It doesn’t stop there though, Navman has also added lane keeping assistance, collision warnings, speed notifications and traffic alerts. It is now an all in one smart driving device. Before we all move towards self-driving cars, this really is the final frontier. The Navman Drive Duo is the co-driver ensuring that you’re at your best on the road, safe and getting where you need efficiently.

Installing the Navman Drive Duo is simple, you clip the unit onto the mount and the mount sucks onto your front window. In all our testing it held on as though it’s life depended on it, never falling off once. Finding the right location to mount the unit was a concern as the mounting position could impact the camera. What we found was that the camera is actually adjustable so it can be adapter to face the right direction as needed.

Turning the unit on and getting started is simple, beyond selecting your country and language it is essentially ready to go. As soon as the unit fires up the recording function begins, a pair of high definition eyes watching everything that happens in front of you with a very wide angle lens. You can press the Drive Recorder button to view or replay moments but we found it handy to ensure you had the camera framed up properly.

When used as a navigation unit the Drive Duo offers multiple options to help you select the best route. If an incident was to occur along your route the navigation can notify you and help you adjust your route to avoid the traffic caused. The voice on the unit is clear and pronounces street names and locations really well. And yes, it does all of the navigation while still recording what is happening in front of you. What’s interesting too is the GPS feature enables your video footage to be geotagged so the exact location in any point of the video can be determined.

While driving, with or without the navigation on, the camera that is busy recording is also buy watching the cars in front for distance and watching your lane markings. If a car in front appears to be braking and you aren’t reacting then the Drive Duo will alert you. If you are drifting out of your lane, the Drive Duo will alert you. If will also display a speed sign on the unit which will also alert you if you’re exceeding the limit. It might sound like a nagging passenger at times but all of these could save your license or even your life.

We tested this unit in three different cars and started to feel very comfortable with the unit being there. In each car we mounted the unit in different locations and found interesting results. The ideal location for a dashcam is mounted high so you capture more of what is happening on the road than in the sky, but if you do this it can impair the ability to reach the unit for navigation controls or touching the screen on the Drive Duo. In most spots though we managed to shift the camera to point and capture more than just our lane.

We almost didn’t want to leave home without it, what if during that next drive something happened and the dashcam wasn’t capturing it? This is the first sign that says we’re enjoying the product as a habit. During our tests we (thankfully) were not involved in a car accident or witness one so the videos we created were not required. We did however look at them and we were impressed with the quality in all conditions, including the in car audio that is recorded along with it. The videos are recorded to a microSD card and will record over the oldest footage. If a bump or nock is felt then the Drive Duo will save it separately to ensure it is available for you.

At $279 this unit surprised us, it has more features than we expected and carried them out flawlessly. If you were considering either type of unit (nav or cam) then at this price it makes plenty of sense. When we see the amount of units in a taxi or courier vehicle we certainly hope these are widely adopted. It’s one device that completely does it all. Unlike a street directory you will receive a lifetime of updates to the ever changing roads and landmarks. Sure you’ll need to decide whether you really need one but like most insurance policies, you only wish you had one after something goes wrong.

More info: via Navman