The Sony NV-U51 is no longer produced by Sony, it has been replaced by the NV-U52, so supply of these devices from stockists may be limited, but it is still a reasonable sat nav system.
The NV-U52 is a better spec than the NV-U51 but the underlying navigation is just as good. Here are the main differences between both systems.
Memory Stick Duo Slot
NV-U51: Intel PXA255
NV-U52: Intel PXA270
Dynamic Route Information
Since stockists are keen to sell any remaining units you will be in a good position to negotiate a bargain. For example some stockists are offering a free TMC cradle with the NV-U51.
SInce the NV-U51 offers many of the features provided by the NV-U53, this article will be somewhat shorter than the usual reviews, just covering the differences between the two systems. I suggest you read the Sony NV-U53 review first if you haven’t done so already, and then come back here to compare the two.
This is what you get in the box.
- Sony NV-U51
- Vehicle suction cup mount
- Vehicle power cable
- USB computer cable
- AC Socket Wall Charger
- Quick start guide
- CD-ROM containing application software
I was pleased to see an AC wall socket charger supplied with the NV-U51, something that is missing from the NV-U53.
- Pre-loaded NAVTEQ 2005 Q4 UK and Ireland maps
- Full 7 digit UK postcode entry
- 3.5” touch screen display
- 512Mb resident flash memory
- Points of Interest (POI)
- Gesture commands allow you to trace figures on screen to be taken to frequent destinations
- Multi-language support
- SiRF III GPS receiver
- Intel PXA255 300Mhz processor
- USB 2.0
- Dimensions WxHxD (mm) 103.8 x 87.6 x 32.8
- Weight approx 280g
- Cradle with gel layer suction support
- Battery capacity 2200mAH
There are a number of differences between the NV-U51 and NV-U53. Some of the main ones are as follows:
As you can see, the NV-U51 lags behind with regards to map data, using maps over a year older than the NV-U53. The NV-U51 also has a much heavier and chunkier feel to it than the slimline NV-U53.
The NV-U51 comes with a built-in SiRF III GPS receiver just like the NV-U53. On the whole the GPS receiver performed well. The only issue I ran into was plotting a route in the car before a GPS signal had been established.
I would start driving but the Sony would not direct me to my destination once a GPS signal was established. In the end I had to pull over and re-enter the navigation details. Any decent sat nav system should be able to start issuing voice directions once a GPS signal is established, so this was a negative point for the NV-U51.
The NV-U51 comes with pre-installed NAVTEQ 2005 maps of UK and Ireland. The maps are older than those used on the NV-U53, but in my tests I found the NV-U51 performed just as well as the NV-U53.
The NV-U51 has a smaller screen than the NV-U53, but I was glad to see that usability has not been compromised as a result. The on screen controls are laid out exactly the same as the NV-U53, and are just as easy to operate with your finger.
As with the NV-U53, the NV-U51 suffers the same problem where button presses sometimes get ignored. I’m not sure why this happens, perhaps these Sony devices need a faster processor. This problem only happens now and again so for me this is only a minor niggle.
There is very little to differentiate the NV-U51 and NV-U53 in the navigation department, apart from the older map data on the NV-U51. The main difference is that the NV-U51 does not support dynamic route information, which shows Points of Interest (POI) coming up next on your route. This omission is understandable given the smaller screen, there would be insufficient room to display this information.
I also had an opportunity to experiment more with the routing profiles. Up until now I’ve used the default fastest route profile on all Sony devices I’ve tested. In my tests I found the Sony a bit aggressive with regards to road selection, favouring motorways more often than I would like. Although the motorway potentially offered the fastest journey, there was a fast ‘A’ road available as an alternative route which offered a saving in terms of total distance.
I tried using the Optimum route profile this time. Optimum route will use a detour if it corresponds to a reasonable time saving. As soon as I set this route profile the Sony selected the fast ‘A’ road rather than the longer distance route by motorway. So the Optimum route profile is definitely worth experimenting with.
Suction Cup and Cradle
The NV-U51 weighs 80 grams more than the NV-U53 so I was a bit nervous with regards to the suction cup. I wasn’t sure whether it would support the extra weight. As it turned out I had nothing to worry about. The suction cup possesses limpit like qualities. I drove along several bumpy roads and the suction cup stood firm.
The suction cup is easy to apply and easy to remove too, and didn’t leave any suction marks on the dashboard. The system I tested came with a free TMC cradle which you can see in the picture below. Not all stockists supply a free TMC cradle so it worth shopping around for a good deal.
No difference between the NV-U53.
The NV-U51 supports all the gesture command features found on the NV-U53.
Very little difference between the NV-U51 and NV-U53. The NV-U51 does support TMC so there are options available to tweak the TMC settings, such as whether it should tune automatically or manually for a TMC signal.
If you register the device with Sony you can get a free 30 day safety camera subscription. This is less than the free 12 month offer available on the NV-U53.
If you want access to safety camera updates after the first month then you will need to pay a subscription.
Points of Interest (POI)
In my tests I didn’t notice any difference between the NV-U51 and NV-U53 so I presume they use the same POI database.
The Sony NV-U51 has now been replaced by the better spec NV-U52. Having said that, the NV-U51 is not a bad performer, and there are good deals to be found if you shop around. Some stockists include a free TMC cradle for example.
If you’re not fussed about having the latest model and don’t mind the maps being a couple of years old then consider taking a closer look at this system. It also supports TMC which the replacement NV-U52 does not. Just bear in mind that since the product is discontinued you may get limited Sony support in the future.
- Voice directions include road names
- Easy to use on screen controls
- Discontinued product – replaced by NV-U52
- Buttons sometimes need pressing more than once
- Unable to enter house numbers when navigating by postcode
- Quite heavy and bulky
- Voice directions don’t commence once GPS signal established
Where to buy
Buy the Sony NV-U51 with free TMC cradle from Lemon Digital. Quote “Technical Itch” when ordering to receive a special price discount.
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