NOTE: As of early 2014, Mud Maps have decided to stop manufacturing the M7 to concentrate on the development of their mobile applications for iPad and other mobile platforms. I guess that makes this article obsolete. Thanks for visiting though!
In today’s modern age, navigation using a GPS and electronic maps is par for the course. The days of relying 100% on paper maps are long behind us. Although having paper maps available as a backup is good safety, I’m betting that the majority of 4wd adventures are undertaken without ever pulling out the parchment. So when the opportunity to write a review for Mud Maps M7 device came up I jumped at it!
Mud Maps have placed their M7 as a direct competitor to devices like the HEMA Navigator HN6, and the VMS 700HDS II. The Mud Maps M7 gets you where you want to go both on the highway, and off the beaten track. iGo Primo with the latest street data from NAVTEQ, shows you the way when you’re on the hard stuff, and OziExplorer helps you out when the fun begins.
What’s in the Mud maps m7 box
Your impression of a new toy starts with the box. After all, it’s the first thing you see.
The Mud Maps M7 comes in a very tidy and good quality box that makes you instantly think that significant effort has gone into it. People care about this thing. People have put some thought into it and want you to like it even before you’ve opened it.
Inside the box you get:
- The Mud Maps M7 (of course)
- A soft pocket to carry it in
- A 240v power plug
- A 12v power plug
- A USB connector to plug it into your computer
- An AV plug to attach a reverse camera
- A bracket to stick it to your windscreen
- A stylus
- An instruction manual
The Mud Maps M7
Let’s take a closer look at the M7 itself.
It’s a light-weight device, weighing in at only 201 grams. However despite its lightness, it doesn’t have that cheap plastic feel to it. It feels like a well put together piece of kit. Which is just as well given the punishment that I’m sure we’ll all be putting them though.
The device itself has a number of different ports and buttons on it. Along the top edge you’ll find the power button and two small slots that the windscreen bracket attaches to. There is nothing down the right hand side, but the left has the USB cable port, the Micro SD card slot, the video port for the reverse camera and a couple of other blank ports that are plugged up and not used for anything. Along the bottom are the other slots that the windscreen bracket connects to. And finally on the back is the reset button and the speaker.
The Mud Maps M7 contains 4GB of internal storage, and the Micro SD card slot allows you to expand that. The maximum capacity for the Micro SD card is 32 GB, but please make sure you get a good quality Micro SD card. I tried two. One was an el-cheapo and the M7 didn’t recognise it no matter what I did. The other was a 16GB SanDisk HC Micro SD and it worked perfectly. So you get what you pay for.
Mud Maps M7 peripherals
The other stuff you get in the box comes in handy at various times here and there. And of course most of them are pretty standard and probably don’t warrant much of a mention beyond the fact that they’re there. Of course some you’ll only use if you have the appropriate devices… For example I don’t have a reverse camera so I won’t be using the video cable.
But the one that I’d like to specifically mention is the windscreen bracket. This is probably something that could be improved on. The bracket only has one pivot point. Which is fine if your windscreen is very upright. But many modern vehicles have windscreens that are on a very steep angle. This forces you to place the device quite high on the windscreen so that it fits above the dash and that can restrict vision a little. I did find a place to put it without too much trouble, but I think that in some situations, and in some vehicles, it may cause a problem. But then again, maybe not.
The windscreen bracket also holds the stylus. Which is fine when you’re in the car, but if you work on the M7 in the camper trailer at the end of the day, you have to remember to bring the stylus with you. And hope you don’t lose it somewhere. In my opinion, it would be much, much better to somehow attach the stylus to the actual M7 itself.
The other item worth mentioning is the instruction manual. Where HEMA have gone with the ‘Document Everything’ philosophy by providing 126 pages of riveting reading, Mud Maps have taken the opposite approach. Their instruction manual is a paltry 21 pages. “Surely they’ve used a very small font to fit it all in!” you may say. But no. It’s a quick easy read that gives you all the basics on how to run the thing. From there you’re largely on your own. However the software is very intuitive so it doesn’t take much to find your way around. And if you get stuck there are some web links at the end of the instruction manual to help you out. I think it’s a very good approach.
The M7 software
The M7 comes bundled with two very popular and well known pieces of software:
- OziExplorer CE
- iGo Primo
iGo Primo gives turn by turn directions when you’re on the black top. It’s a great piece of software that you can update from the NAVTEQ website. Ongoing updates are subscription based and are well worth it if you ask me. Roads around me seem to change daily so it’s nice to know that updates are readily available.
The software is very user friendly and intuitive so working out how to use it is easy. I won’t go into any detail on how to use it. There are plenty of online resources if you’re stuck. Mud Maps even provide this demo video:
OziExplorer is very common among 4wd enthusiasts so having it on your mobile GPS unit is invaluable. The CE version means it’s designed to run on Windows CE (which is the Microsoft operating system that runs the Mud Maps M7 device). You can use your PC software (available separately) to plan your tracks from the comfort of your home, and then transfer your plans to the Mud Maps M7 for when you’re out and about. You can use your M7 to plan trips of course, but the smaller screen may make it harder than a nice big computer screen, that’s all.
Need a video tutorial for OziExplorer as well? Mud Maps have kindly provided one and here it is:
In terms of price, the M7 is streets in front. When you compare the features and prices of its nearest competitors, it’s very difficult to beat. According to the Mud Maps website:
|VMS 700 HDs II||HEMA HN6||Mud Maps M7|
|Screen Size||7 Inch||6 Inch||7 Inch|
|iGo Primo with|
|iGo Primo with|
Aussie and NZ Maps
|iGo Primo with|
Aussie and NZ Maps
|VMS||OziExplorer CE||OziExplorer CE|
So what do I think of the Mud Maps M7 GPS navigator? Well in short, it’s awesome.
The only things I’d like to see changed are
- Put the stylus into the device itself. That way you can leave the bracket behind and not have to remember to carry a tiny little stylus around with you.
- Put a 2nd pivot into the arm of the windscreen bracket. It would just give it a little more versatility in terms of where the device could be placed.
- Windows 8. I’d love to see the Mud Maps M7 running Windows 8 in the background. I realise that Mud Maps probably doesn’t have much say in the matter. OziExplorer and iGo Primo may not be available on Windows 8 but one day, I’d hope that changes.
But apart from that, the software that the Mud Maps M7 runs is exactly the same as the HEMA HN6. And I mean exactly the same! Not some cut down version… It’s Exactly The Same! So really why would you pay $300 more?
Using the device is simple and intuitive and the GPS, as you’d expect it to be, is very accurate.
The device is very light weight, but is solid and comes with a 12 month warranty.
The Mud Maps M7 is available online and a 14 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee gives you the confidence to buy it and see what you think.
Although the last page of the Mud Maps M7 manual says “Now go and get Muddy” I’m pretty sure that refers to you, and your 4wd. Not the Mud Maps M7 itself…