Modern cars are great, there are so many technologies to keep you safe, connected, and play your own content. But what if your car is not “modern enough”? The new Laserco Navig8r 7″ Portable Wireless Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features baked in is one option to add the latest feature to an older car.
As someone who doesn’t go car shopping very often, it is always a surprise to see all the inclusions in a current build vehicle compared to the one I would be coming from. My daily driver is a 2015 Mazda CX-5, which just predated Mazda’s standard inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with the MZD Connect Infotainment system. Before that was the 2006 Saab 9-3 which did not even have Bluetooth built in (still love that car!).
The Navig8r is a lightweight 7″ touch screen “tablet”.
The top edge has a small fixed sun visor to block sun glare onto the screen. The visor itself is pretty solid, but the joint to the main body is not so much. Take care not to press too hard on it when mounting the screen to the arm.
On the left side of the unit are:
- AUX port
- AV In (for optional reverse camera)
- USB-A port
- MicroSD card slot
- USB-C power port
Included in the box is the mounting arm, a car charger to USB-C power cable and an aux cable.
To get yourself setup with the Navig8r requires just a few minutes of work.
However, it is safety first – work out a location to mount the Navig8r without blocking your view out of the car. There are laws around this issue so it is up to you to be legally compliant where you are. Secondly, put it in a place where it is least likely to hit an occupant if it becomes a projectile in the event of an accident.
It is as simple as positioning and locking in the mounting arm, lock the Navig8r onto the arm, connect the provided power cable.
The mounting arm can extend and swivel, and there is a ball joint to rotate the screen as necessary.
Next is to choose to go wireless or wired option. The wireless option will require you to pair your phone with the Navig8r Bluetooth. The wired option … needs you to self provision a USB-A to USB .. or lightning cable depending on what phone you have.
I rock an Android phone so this review is geared for Android Auto.
There was a little issue initially getting the Navig8r going, mostly attributed to user error because I neglected to bring the user manual out to the car with me. I just went with the tried and true method of fumbling around to get things working. On the bright side it only took me a couple of goes to figure out how to get the unit into pairing mode and get things going.
I went with the wireless option which means putting the Navigat8r into pairing mode (Bluetooth icon on screen). From the phone look for the entry NAV-BHUD with the PIN 0000.
Next you just type on the Android Auto icon on the right side and things will automagically work, assuming Android Auto has been previously configured on your phone. If not then you will need to follow the wizard on the phone side to configure it. Android Auto is fairly self explanatory, and is not the focus of this review so I don’t go into details here.
If you are just using the Navig8r as is, then this is it. It has built in speakers which is really nothing to write home about. The sound was flat and without any dynamic range. It is adequate for navigation and at a stretch for podcasts, but you would have to be pretty hard pressed to listen to music. Further, even at maxed out levels it is a bit soft and becomes difficult to hear over road noises especially at 100 kph.
Thankfully you are not stuck with it and the Navig8r has other tricks up it’s sleeve.
The first option is to use the AUX port with the included AUX cable. Just plug both ends in, set your car stereo to the AUX option and off you go.
The second option is the FM transmitter option. Just like those available for cars since time immortal, you can just set it to a frequency that isn’t used in the spectrum and the Navig8r will transmit on that channel. It may run into interference depending on how crowded the spectrum is, but it is one less wire to run.
This fixes the sound quality and volume issues from the built in speakers and make using the Navig8r a far more enjoyable experience.
The quality of the screen isn’t top notch, but for the purposes it does not have to be. The brightness is pretty decent and I have not encountered issues with reading information on the screen regardless of the time of the day I am driving.
Things aren’t perfect by any means.
Firstly the Navig8r could not be powered by another charger. I have the Ugreen 165W car charger in my car and the Navig8r just refuses to power up with it. It also means it chews up the only cigarette lighter port in my car so I can’t charge my phone or laptop.
The Bluetooth pairing PIN is static at 0000, which is honestly a little lazy and is a security risk.
Bluetooth connection is to a single device only. I had issues having a second device hooked up to the Navig8r and I ended up having to forget the connection on one phone.
The touchscreen is not the most sensitive.
The Laserco Navig8r 7″ Portable Wireless Touchscreen is an affordable solution to add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to your car. Sure you can replace the head unit with an aftermarket device for a good chunk of change, or in my case, I can upgrade to the official Mazda solution for AUD$500.
In contrast, the Navig8r has a RRP of AUD$169, and you can add the complementary Navig8r Add-On Reverse Camera which has the RRP AUD$29.95 for added functionality.
With Christmas around the corner, and the great Aussie summer season kicking in in a few days, this is something that is definitely worth considering.
DRN would like to thank Laser for providing the review unit.
Bluetooth Version: v5.0
Dimensions: 18.97 x 11.16 x 4.05 cm
Power Input: 12-24V
Power Output: 12-24V
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600
Screen Size: 7″
Supported Files: MP3
USB: 512GB Max., FAT32 File Format
Weight: 300 gms