Off-road with the Hema HX-1 GPS Navigator

The HX-1 can be utilised as an on & off-road GPS

We safely return from our test run more than impressed

Hema is a Brisbane-based Australian company with 25 years experience in producing detailed street and wilderness trail maps and GPS units. Hema products are popular with off-road, 4WD camping and caravanning enthusiasts in Australia and New Zealand.

The HX-1 package contains the GPS, a cradle and windscreen suction-cup mount, 12V/24V 2A car charger, mini-USB cable, a soft pouch and a Quick start guide. There is comprehensive user guidance available within the HX-1 unit via the help icon, which is the (?) key, for convenient field use. The Hema website has much more information available as well. The detailed user guide can be viewed, and downloaded as a PDF file, from the link http://help.hema-labs/HX-1_guide on the Hema website. A great range of procedural questions are answered on the link for the technical knowledge database and this is worth browsing through by prospective buyers.

On the software side, the HX-1 is pre-loaded with Hema’s premium 4WD maps, as well as a selection of specific touring guides, Camps 9 and a detailed version of the Explorer Map with topographic charts and up-to-date track data. There are 1.2 million kilometres of outback roads and paths along with track classification to assist in seeking, or avoiding, particularly rough areas. Furthermore, all units come with new street mapping, user interface updates and fresh Hema-verified points of interest. Street navigation includes alerts for speed and redlight cameras and school zones. There is also lane advice for busy multi-lane roadways.

When first switching on the HX-1, it initialised and then sorted to revise its software and database. That involved a hefty download on nearly 6GB. It took some hours to download, so be prepared for that if your Internet speed isn’t great. Once you have registered your HX-1, you can enjoy regular map checks for the life of the device. The other thing requiring some patience is the opening satellite acquisition and calibration, which took30 minutes for me. After that process, satellite acquisition was rapid, as you would expect from a 22-channel GPS receiver.

The HX-1 features a generous 7”, 1024×600 pixel, colour touch-screen which is easy to comprehend at a glance. The HX-1 has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. There is an onboard camera, as on mobile phones, with a 5MP sensor, 15 frames per second 480p video and a microphone. The unit has 16GB internal memory which can be extended by up to 32GB with a micro SD card (not included). The battery is a 5000 mAh Li-poly which has a six-hour operating life should you wish to carry the GPS away from its charger.

During the set up of the HX-1, you have the opportunity to provide your email address and connect, via a Wi-Fi network, to the Hema Explorer Cloud. There you can sign up for updates, back up your trip data and access premium mapping content and navigational features.

I found the HX-1 easy to operate. The touch-screen menus and virtual buttons were intuitively obvious and took little time to become accustomed to. The first test was exploring around my local area. No surprise, the HX-1 provided faultless voice-prompted directions about the highways and streets.

The HX-1 allows comprehensive trip planning in advance. The device also has tools for recording your bush adventure, with the capacity link geo-tagged photos and data to your trail and camping site waypoints. This data is easily backed up online and you can elect to share it with others if you wish. An additional option with Hema is a mobile App that can be linked to your HX-1 and allows interactive, off-road GPS navigation.

I followed some dirt roads deep into the wet tropical jungle of far north Queensland. Along the way, there were some hidden, overgrown sidetracks that few people know exist. I was impressed, and a little alarmed, that the HX-1 highlighted what I had thought were secret tracks of mine. The extensive national parks in the area were well covered, with plenty of detailed data for any intrepid traveller keen on exploring the wilder corners.

The large colour screen of the Hema HX-1 GPS and its great database of maps and points of interest puts wilderness adventures within reach of everybody. Of course, as we all know, the driver should never look at the GPS screen while the car is in motion – leave that to the navigator. When travelling deep bush, way off the beaten path, make sure you also have a compass and maps of the area as a back-up. Never rely totally on any GPS as your sole means of course-plotting.

The Hema HX-1 GPS is available at major retailers and online. The recommended trade price is $699, but some outlets can do better than that, so shop about.

Technical specifications

Dimensions (mm)187 x 116 x 15
Weight (grams)374
Display7” IPS LCD 1024×600 G+G, 5-point capacitive touch panel with pre-installed tempered glass screen protector featuring polarisation cancellation
ProcessorMediaTek MT8127 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 MPCore, 1.3GHZ, GPU: Mali-450 MP2
Operating systemAndroid 4.4
MemoryInternal: 16GB NAND Flash, 1GB RAM

External SD: 32GB

CommunicationsMini-USB 2.0 data and charge

Bluetooth 3.0 HS, Bluetooth 4.0 LE

Wireless: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n

GPSMT6627, 22-channel tracking G-sensor
CameraRear camera: 5MP, 480p at 15fps
BatteryLi-poly 5000mAh with six hours operating life
External audioSpeaker: 8Ω, 1.5W microphone
TemperatureOperating: 0C to 60C

Storage: -20C to 70C

HumidityOperating: 45 to 80 per cent RH

Storage: 30 to 90 per cent RH

The sleek HX-1 Navigator unit is modern & stylish
The Hema HX-1 package contains plenty of accessories
The big 7-inch multi-touch screen of the Hema HX-1 GPS is easy to navigate.
Hema maps have the great Australian outdoors covered
The HX-1 can be utilised as an on & off-road GPS