After years of development and many trials and error - Hema has finally launched their new and very improved navigator the HX - 2.
So what’s so great about this new navigator ?
Well, its not JUST an improvement on the old HX-1, its like an evolution through the whole system. Get this, its slimmer ( over half the thickness compared to the HX-1 ), the battery is smaller yet has a longer life ( due to a a faster internal 2GHZ processor plus a claimed 8 hour battery life compared to 4 hours in the old HX-1), a brighter screen with easier controls to adjust and better mapping.
After using the old HX-1 all over Australia and then trying to compare the old unit with the new is like chalk and cheese, so it was a little difficult at first trying to use the HX-2 due to the new systems and better mapping.
Straight out of the box it's all new and improved. The windscreen mount is now a light metal, very solid with an extendable arm and swivel mount head where the HX-2 slides into place. By doing this it allows the unit to be faced downwards slightly to avoid sun glare and the extendable mount gives the unit more flexibility to where and how its placed off the windscreen. The charging lead is a C cord to a USB charging the unit faster and cleaner.
Hema has also included a quick start instruction guide and a nice soft bag to store it in. Speaking of how to use, Hema has now included on their website and U-tube, instructional videos on how to use the unit’s features correctly and with confidence. ( jump onto the Hema website and click on knowledge base, then HX-2 and it opens an array of videos ).
Turning the unit on, immediately you’ll see new map options and easy to find setting icons. The icons down the left let you preset most of the unit, complete downloads, take photos, operate the reverse camera and much more. The large map options are an easy way to get into what you want to use. If this is your first Hema unit you’ll need to register to the Hema cloud so you can save and download maps plus do the free updates. If you don't register it just means you can’t do the free updates for the system.
The screen is an amazing new and brighter pinch screen with the added bonus in the settings, to adjust the 2D - 3D viewing level. Hema have listened to the masses by putting screen brightness buttons on the top of the unit, and it automatically adjusts from day to night mode when the time is right by using soft greys and blacks to reduce glare.
ON - ROAD
The on-road turn by turn mapping is like using most car play system so very easy to use, either with navigation or just zooming down roads. Incidentally the whole working system inside the HX-2 is based on an android operating system. The on - road experience is nice and easy, from putting in a destination, to following the route, right down to screen speed limits and warnings. If you’ve got a wifi connection and the option turned on, the HX-2 will give live road warnings up ahead, say if there’s been an accident or traffic hold up.
OFF - ROAD
To me this is where the unit shines and probably where we will all spend most of our time. Hema have gone from the old Raster map system to the Vector maps where you can zoom in seamlessly giving you more and more detail. The off road mapping can also be used as a on road touring map but you can’t ask for spoken navigation. Once you get your head around the unit you can use the Hema Explorer option in the off -road map section so you can zoom right into 1;25 tho which is generally needed in places where high detail is needed ( Vic high country, great dividing range etc ). A couple of other options here are a satellite and hybrid view. If you’ve got the POI ( points of interest ) turned on there’s a massive amount of icons that will fill the screen that you can click on for a pop up detailed run down on what the icon is about; from tracks ( some with track grading levels), fuel stops, all types of accommodation and so much more. These can be filtered from a top button and can be turned on and off from a short cut button. The POI feature is available on all maps with over 40,000 verified to date.
In true Hema fashion, this mode is like using your normal paper maps but is a good screen to use if doing big boring distances across the country. The Adventure maps use the old Raster system so the maps won’t keep zooming in, they just get more pixelated. The advantage with these maps is that all the Hema maps you can buy from 4wd shops are all in here, so if you're sitting around the fire planning a trip to say Cape York or WA the maps are available in here. The POI and tracking features are usable here along with side icons for map centring, quick tracking and more.
SO WHAT DO I REALLY THINK ?
After using the HX- 2 for a while and learning more about the unit, I’m quietly impressed and glad that Hema have listened to the public on what they want from a navigation unit. Coming from the HX-1, I thought it would be an easy transition to the 2, but honestly you need to throw everything out that you have learnt by using the old unit as the 2 is definatly new and improved. For most users the de-fault settings and basic maps are fine, touring and exploring around. My only gripe was to access the more detailed explorer maps ( located in the off- road section ) you need wi-fi or hot spot off your phone. Living on the great divide in NSW the cellular network isn’t always the best, so if you lose phone signal the explorer section just won’t load when in deep gullies or in thick rainforest areas. The new touch - pinch screen is very nice to use and easy to view, and with the swivel ball head adjusting the HX-2 to an easy viewing point is a breeze.
Dont expect to understand all the features overnight as its still a complex unit with a host of features but I recommend watching the bite size instructional videos associated with the HX-2. Hema also run scheduled web-style training sessions through Hema University (HEMA-U) online. For any serious user, these are a must to watch.
There is an option to buy a sun visor for it but honesty because you can tilt down the screen and with the extra brightness I don't think the visor is necessary. Another bonus for the unit is the re-introduction of a reverse camera, something the HX-1 missed out on; BUT Hema’s option of a camera at $199 may scare a few buyers off. Pricing started off at $749 but I have seen the HX-2 for sale as low as $649.
There are so many quirky features with the 2 and once you understand them all it’s a great unit, like map tracking and syncing it to the cloud, from there you can share and down load. Another nice feature in all modes is when you touch the screen, side menus glide in giving you more options. This saves you going right back to the home screen to set parameters. Its going to be hard to improve this unit over the next few years but I reckon Hema have got a few things up their sleeves already looking towards the future.
PRO … Easy to use screen
Improved windscreen mount
Reverse camera capability
Vector maps in off-road mode
Faster internal processor
CON … Need internet connect for
Hema Explorer maps
Expensive reverse camera
option ( $199.00)