Blue Sky Navigation

We review the Hema HX-1 Navigator

Hema HX-1 Navigator

The Hema Navigator HX-1 is the latest in the series of Hema Navigators. We have been an avid user of the Hema Navigator since the old blue HN-1. The HX-1 is version number 6 in the Hema Navigator family.

First impressions

Our initial thought on first sighting the newly designed box was that the HX-1 was going to be something special. Our thoughts proved to be totally correct. Upon opening the box, the first item was the Quick Start Guide. This has some basic operational information in it but mostly covers the licencing and warranty agreements (which is twelve months). Under the Quick Start Guide was the HX-1. Just looking at the unit, you realise just how much the technology has improved over the years when compared to earlier models of the Hema Navigator. The thing that struck me was the extremely modern appearance of the HX-1 when compared to earlier units. Also in the box was a USB lead, DC car charger, cradle and mount.

Some difference between the HN7 and the HX-1

Screen

There are some major differences when compared to the previous model, the HN-7. Most notably is the screen. The HX-1 has a display resolution of 1024 x 600 px as against 800 x 480 px for the HN-7. The screen of the HX-1 is also glass tempered. Although the HN-7 is an extremely capable unit, the difference in screen clarity is immediately noticeable. There is no need for a stylus like the previous models had as you use your finger tip.

Camera

Another difference is the lack of reversing camera input on the HX-1. This was not included due to hardware and software conflictions, however, I wouldn’t consider this a negative, particularly given the capability of the unit.The HX-1 does have a camera in it though. This is the first Hema Navigator with that capability. The camera is 5 megapixel and the video shoots at 480 pixel at 15 frames per second. Although this resolution is not high compared to standalone cameras, we found it more than ample. After all, the HX-1 is primarily a GPS unit. All media that is recorded can either be stored internally or a micro SD card of up to 32 gig can be added (not included). Plus, you can geotag your photos. The video camera though, cannot be used as a dashcam as there is no continuous loop capability plus it’s illegal to have video on a screen that is visible to a driver.

Operating system

The operating system of the HX-1 is totally different to earlier models of the Hema Navigator. The HX-1 uses Android 4.4 as against the now old Windows CE of earlier models. The increased speed of the unit is extremely noticeable when compared to previous models. This is because the HN-7 only had 128 MB of RAM while the HX-1 has 1 GB. This provides a much more smoother user experience when interacting with the menu system.

Battery

The battery is also much more efficient. The HX-1 has a battery capacity of 5,000mAh as against 1,500 mAh for the HN-7. Hema are claiming over five hours of off charge continuous use as against only 1.5 hours for the HN-7.

Connectivity

One major difference with the HX-1 is that is wireless capable. You can register your device online straight away (always a good idea to register it) as long as you have an internet connection. You can even tether it to your mobile phone for internet access. The beauty about this feature is that it makes downloading software and mapping updates so much easier. You can also create a (free) Hema Explorer account where you can share all of your track logs, waypoints, notes and geotagged photos that you may have recorded. You can then view your trip in a 3D slide show! You can even share your adventures with other off roaders and download trips from the Hema Explorer Cloud’s database. Of course the HX-1 has Bluetooth installed so that you can pair your phone and take calls too.

Now the Quick Start Guide is very basic, however, the User Manual is installed in the HX-1 so that you now have the operating procedures at your finger tips.

Navigating with the HX-1

The Hema Navigator HX-1 has two modes of navigation, the street mode, called Drive and the off road mode called Explore. Drive is powered by iGO. Hema have done away with running Oziexplorer in the HX-1 and are now running their own off road navigation program with their suite of maps preinstalled.

The HX-1 comes with three years of free updates for the iGO street navigation whilst Explore has free four wheel drive map updates for the life of the unit. I reckon that’s pretty good value!

HX-1 Navigation start screen
HX-1 Navigation start screen

Street Navigation

I found this version of iGO much easier to use when compared to earlier versions. What I particularly liked was the fact that you can type in a postcode when looking up an address to drive to. Of course you can still put the town or suburb’s name in too. And if you have various points that you want to visit on your trip, it is a lot easier to load a multipoint route. You can also add favourite addresses and have the map displayed in either 2D or 3D – I personally prefer 3D.

Loading a route is very easy. It’s just a matter of filling in the prompts with the address, or you can look up the place that you wish to go to. For example, if you want to go and watch Collingwood Footy Club train, just type in Holden Centre (and for those AFL fans amongst you, in case you’re wondering – yes, my teeth are real). The name and address appear, then simply tap on the bar that these details appear in, then select as destination. This quickly calculates the route giving you a distance, estimated time of arrival and estimated time interval. If you get bogged down in traffic (such as in Hoddle St. when on the way to watch Collingwood), the HX-1 will suggest an alternative route. A couple of additional features here are that you can navigate to coordinates (latitude and longitude) as well as to a point where you have taken a geotagged picture. Very clever!

HX-1 Navigator destination search screen
Searching for a destination.
HX-1 Navigator search results screen
The destination is found.
Destination selection screen
The destination is displayed.
Route navigation screen
The route that you follow.

You don’t have to type an address in for various points of interest either. These are all listed under Places. Also located here are the Camps 8 locations Camps Public Dump Points for caravaners and Caravan Parks Australia Wide. In here details can be found of the facilities available as well as phone numbers and in some cases, photographs of the locations. There are over 40,000 Hema-verified points of interest loaded, as well as a targeted directory of free and low-cost sites from Camps Australia Wide and Caravan Parks Australia Wide, all of which contain detailed facility information such as mobile phone reception and pet friendliness, as well over 2300 site images to help you to find the perfect place to stay.

Camps Australia camp details screen
Details from Camps Australia. Note the phone number at the top right of the screen.
Saved routes in the HX-1 Navigator
Scroll the screen down further and there is a picture of this camp site.

Speed and red light cameras are also displayed. As you drive along, your speed is displayed as well as the speed limit. Some school speed zones are also displayed at the relevant times. These cameras and zones are updated by Here as they become aware of them. A nice big red warning is given if you venture above the designated speed limit. I like this safety feature.

The HX-1 has street navigation software loaded for both Australia and New Zealand. Maps for other countries can be purchased relatively cheaply so that you can use your Navigator if travelling overseas.

Explore

There is a fantastic selection of maps on this device. In addition to the usual Hema maps, there are additional State Government Topo maps of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. There is also the added benefit of HERE street, Terrain and satellite/aerial mapping data.

What I really liked is the ability to download (via wireless) satellite imagery. This can be stored in the HX-1’s memory and utilised for navigation. In other words, you can see your position as you drive along on a satellite image of the area that you downloaded.

Camps Australia camp photo
A satellite image displaying the location triangle in the middle and saved routes.

As with the other maps included in Explore, you can record your routes on this imagery. Interestingly, all routes that you record are recorded in a separate colour, unlike Oziexplorer in the previous models. You can recall your saved tracks and open up that part of the map that they are stored on so that you can see where you have been and then add notes if you so desire. Saving tracks allows you to back track without getting geographically displaced (who admits to ever getting lost?)

Waypoints are easily created as well. Just hold your finger on the spot where you want to create your waypoint and click on the waypoint icon that appears at that point. You can even create a route on the topo maps using place names or addresses.

Another great feature is the ability to zoom down to a scale of 1:9,000. To do this, you have to be online. You select the area where you would like more detail and then save it. This will be stored in the HX-1’s memory for recall at a later time when you are in that area and require a larger scale of map. Beautiful!

HX-1 Navigator's standard Hema map
The standard Hema map.
HX-1 Navigator's standard Hema map zoomed in
Displaying the weather. The shaded area to the left of the position triangle is rain.

One other feature that is really handy is the ability to load live weather radar on to your map. This is a great safety feature as you can see where you are in relation to any bad weather that may be heading your way. I might add that you require an internet connection here, so you may be limited depending on your location. Of course, as mentioned earlier, you could always tether your HX-1 to your mobile phone, assuming that you are within cellular coverage.

Weather map overlay
Displaying the weather. The shaded area to the left of the position triangle is rain.

Our verdict on the HX-1

I have operated numerous GPS devices over the years including all six in the Hema Navigator range. I would have to say that this is by far the most technologically advanced unit that I have operated. The advancement in technology has made the HX-1 very user friendly and it is quite a simple unit to operate along with the bonus of having additional features that this technology brings.

The Hema Navigator HX-1 would make a wonderful addition to your off-road gear. You won’t be disappointed!

Blue Sky Navigation is a premium Hema Dealer.

Premium Hema Dealer supplying Hema HN7 Navigators
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Contact Blue Sky Navigation

0417 385 463

Address: PO Box 431,
Diamond Creek 3089, Australia