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Hema HX-1 vs HN7 Navigator Comparison Review

by Christopher O'Keeffe July 13, 2017 38 Comments

Hema HX-1 vs HN7 Navigator Comparison Review

Introduction

It has been just over two and a half years since the HN7 was released and it has hands down been Hema's best GPS to date. Now Hema has announced the launch of their new HX-1 and I thought it would be a good time to look at what this new unit features and how it compares with the HN7. Hema was kind enough to let me have a demo model to test out and it was very much appreciated.

The HX-1 is built on an entirely different platform to the HN7; the HN7 is a dedicated GPS unit running Windows CE as its operating system, whilst the HX-1 is a locked Android tablet. This fundamental difference brings with it some interesting points of difference to explore. Firstly, let’s look as some of the benefits that arise from this new Android tablet platform.

HX-1

The Screen: LCD vs LED 

The HN7 has a 7 inch 800 x 480 pixel WVGA TFT LCD, compared to the HX-1, which has a 1024 x 600 pixel LED tempered glass screen. The benefits of the LED screen are that it is brighter and sharper. I would say that the new LED screen with its better image quality is a big improvement over the HN7s TFT LCD screen and after having seen it in the flesh it really is an excellent screen with great readability even in direct sunlight.

Battery Life: 1500mAh Li-Poly vs 5000mAh Li-Poly

The HN7 has a fairly short battery life, the specs give a continuous usage time of 1.5 hours. The HX-1's continuous usage time is considerably longer, having a larger capacity battery of 5000mAH, Hema cites 6 hours, and my initial testing indicates that it certainly runs 4 hours without any issues. A more powerful battery with a longer off power usage time is then a big plus for the HX-1.

Processing Speed: 128MB vs 1GB

The HN7 has 128MB of ram, whilst the HX-1 has a full gigabyte of ram. By having almost 8 times the processing power the HX-1 has a faster refresh rate when accessing the 4WD maps and I also found that the menus opened up significantly faster. I like my gadgets to work quickly so I give the extra RAM a big tick of approval.

Updating: Computer vs Wireless

In order to update an HN7 you have to connect it to a Windows based computer and install two pieces of software, the first is Windows Mobile Device Centre, which allows the HN7 to talk to the computer and the second is the Naviextras Toolbox that manages the data upload. Initially this process can be a bit time consuming but once done becomes a set and forget process.

The HX-1 uses an inbuilt wireless card to connect to the Hema Cloud and downloads its updates, which is a simpler user experience. This is also good news for Mac users, as the HN7 software is not Mac compatible. The wireless feature will also allow for easy sharing of pictures and routes on the Hema Cloud.

Front facing camera: No vs Yes

The HN7 does not have a built in camera for taking geotagged pictures whilst the HX-1 does, so if you like taking pictures and sharing them then the HX-1 is great. The HX-1 has a 5 mega pixel camera, which should enable you to take some good travel photos in decent resolution.

Mapping Updates: 2 years free vs 3 years free

The HN7 comes with 2 years of free updates for the iGo street navigation system and the HX-1 comes with 3 years of free updates. Also for the first time with the HX-1 Hema is offering free 4WD updates for the life of the machine whereas updates for the HN7 are available for purchase from Hema's online store. The HX-1 is the clear winner in terms of software updates, especially for 4WD maps.

Street Mapping mode

I found the HX-1's street mapping program to be a considerable improvement in terms of user experience over the HN7 and with the ability to download iGo map updates, the street mapping side of things go a lot more user friendly. Also all the great CAMPS 8 information on campsites, caravan parks and dumpsites has been retained from the HN7. Overall an excellent experience.

Topographic & Street Mapping in 4WD mode

The HX-1 comes with the ability to download more detailed mapping for the 4WD side of things. These additional maps are available from the Hema Cloud once you have registered the unit. This mapping as you would expect includes the entire catalogue of Hema's mapping, as well as the ability to download topographic mapping of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania and the HERE street mapping. So if you are going to be using the HX-1 primarily in NSW, QLD or TAS then this will be a major benefit of the HX-1.

HX-1 Summary

So the HX-1 has improved street mapping, more detailed 4WD mapping, a brighter sharper screen, longer battery life, a faster processor and is simpler to update, so I would say that the HX-1 has improved in some key areas on the HN7. Also with the ability to share pictures and routes with other HX-1 users it marks a significant move towards creating a community of users outside of dedicated 4WD clubs. And the extra year of updates for street navigation and free 4WD updates for the life of the unit is a nice addition. As with any major change in design there will be some compromises, just ask Apple about the 3mm audio jack, so I will now go over some of the feautres that have been so popular with the HN7.

HN7

4WD Navigation Programs: OziExplorer vs Hema Off-Road Navigation

The HN7 uses OziExplorer CE as its 4WD navigation program. OziExplorer has been Australia's leading GPS interface software for the last 10 years and has been a favourite of the 4WD community because of its ability to add more mapping to the Navigator. The biggest difference between Hema's HN Navigators and other GPS manufacturers has been this ability to add your own mapping, whether you have purchased additional pre-packaged ECW mapping or have created your own maps using the full version of OziExplorer.

The HX-1 uses Hema's own Off-Road Navigation app as it 4WD program. As such the HX-1 user only be able to download mapping available from Hema's Cloud. For the vast majority of users this will not be an issue, as Hema undoubtedly make the best 4WD maps and for the average caravaner or recreational four-wheel driver the level of mapping available to download will be more than sufficient. If, however you have more particular requirements such as custom geospatial data for a specific area or activity such as prospecting then the HN7 is still the GPS of choice.

Accessing detailed mapping

There is a significant difference in the way that the HN7 and the HX-1 treat their 4WD maps. With the HN7 all the 4WD maps are stored on the external micro SD card (up to 32GB capacity) and are continuously available.

The HX-1 comes with Hema’s 150k Explorer Map as its base map and it is always available. To access more maps you need to register the HX-1 with Hema in order to access the maps on the Hema Cloud. Once registered and connected to a WI-Fi network these additional mapping layers will become available as you make a mapping layer active.

In order to access the Hema Cloud mapping if you are out of Wi-Fi coverage you will need to pre-download sections of the map you want onto the internal memory. The HX-1 has a 16 GB internal memory, with 6 GB dedicated to map storage. So in order to benefit from the additional layers maps you will need to download the maps before you set off unless you have mobile data access. My best advice is if you need more detailed mapping on the road then to try to limit your downloading to areas with Wi-Fi such as caravan parks. 

Transferring programs, maps and data to a computer

Another major difference between the HX-1 and HN7 is how the 4DW maps are available for use on a full sized computer. With the HN7 you are able to install a cut down version of OziExplorer onto your desktop and transfer all the 4WD maps onto your hard dirve. This allows you to view the maps on a larger screen with a faster processor, as well as to plan your routes and review your track logs. Waypoints and routes can be transferred between the OziExplorer Data folder, which is duplicated on both the desktop and HN7. As far as I can tell at this stage this is not an option with the HX-1 all 

This transition from OziExplorer to the Hema Off-Road Navigation program does unforuntely mean that you preious HN users will not be able to transfer their data across to the HX-1, unless they first convert it to GPX, or GPS Exchange Format.

Reversing Camera: Yes vs No

One of the questions I get asked most often about the HN7 is does it accept a reversing camera, the answer to which is yes, in fact it accepts two through a 2.5mm jack. This would seem to be a feature that the 4WD and in particular the caravanning community consider to rank highly. It is surprising then that the HX-1 doesn't come with the ability to connect a reversing camera. I feel it is a feature which is going to be missed.

GPS Chip: 64 Channel SiRF vs 22 Channel

One of the reasons the HN7 is so power hungry, as I talked about in the section on battery life, is due to the fact it is running a high end 64 Channel SiRF GPS receiver. The reason that a good GPS chip is so important is firstly it makes for a more accurate location fix, the more satellites the GPS can find the more accurate its fix, always something of paramount importance to the GPS user and secondly it allows the GPS to work even when there is limited line of sight, such as in streets surrounded by tall buildings of when there is overhead leaf clutter. The HN7 is truly remarkable it quite often picks up a fix through the roof when we are loading them. From the specs of the HX-1 it looks as if it will be using a 22 channel GPS receiver, I am not sure if the loss of 42 channels is going to make a real day to day difference, as you only really only need 4 for a GPS fix and I can say that the demo unit acquired a GPS fix whilst inside our office which is encouraging.

Conclusion

After comparing the HN7 and HX-1, I believe that Hema has tried to make the new unit as user friendly and intuitive as possible, which is always good for the user. However when customers ask whether the HN7 is easy to use I always say yes but qualify my answer by saying "but if you are willing to invest the time and learn how OziExplorer works then you will get so much more enjoyment out of the unit, as its capabilities grow with your understanding."

What I believe we now have are two distinct GPS units for two different markets, for the everyday 4 wheel-driver or caravaner who wants a great easy to use navigation device that can be loaded with all Hema's brilliant new multi-layer mapping then the HX-1 ticks all the boxes. However, if you are an enthusiast who wants the best 4WD GPS with the ability to load your own maps as well as access to a huge collection of off-line maps using OziExplorer then the HN7 is the best GPS for you.





Christopher O'Keeffe
Christopher O'Keeffe

Author


38 Responses

Roy
Roy

September 28, 2017

Don’t waste your money on HX-1 it’s the pits of all GPS setting it up is a nightmare, if you have a degree it MAY help.
Roy

Marg
Marg

September 26, 2017

We’ve had a HN6 since 2012, and it’s reaching it’s terminal life.Our old unit has taken us to places that we wouldn’t necessarily have gone to, and it’s been great, but the battery is on it’s last legs, and it’s not worth replacing as the unit can no longer be updated. Admittedly we haven’t really made full use of it, as I never got to grips with the 4wd capabilities as well as I might have. I want to upgrade, but the fact that the HX-1 does not have the reversing camera facility, which both the HN6 and HN7 do, is one reason why we will have to go for the older model.

Christopher O'Keeffe
Christopher O'Keeffe

August 15, 2017

Hi Graham,

Hopefully I have some positive information for you. I have been talking to Hema about the HX-1 and they have told me that they are working on what should be a very significant software update due for release in the next few months, which will hopefully make a big improvement to the usability of the HX-1. Whilst they have not given me a firm release date or specific details as to what the update will cover my impression is that it should address a lot of the issues that the product reviews are flagging.

Hema has promised to send me the patch notes for the update as soon as they are ready fro public release and as soon as I receive then I will post them.

Christopher

Graham Porter
Graham Porter

August 05, 2017

Unit is very Unfriendly, last used map doesn’t show when restart, Only a blank graph page until you drag a partly formed map on screen than your way points dissappaer, left screen to show way points and Voila BLANK GRAPH SCREEN again.
No access to Camps Australia in the Topo mapping program only in the Street mapping ????.

Sorry but I have wasted $700 on this unit , not worth a cracker

Eric
Eric

July 06, 2017

Thanks for the review, i dont have any of these at present. I use the Hema app on an ipad. When i seen an advertisement for the the HX1 i thought, this might be a great idea especially if i can connect reversing cameras to it. Not so, will put this product on the back burner.

Christopher O'Keeffe
Christopher O'Keeffe

July 03, 2017

I think that as most of the issues flagged can be corrected with software fixes, I am hoping that the HX-1 will steadily improve over time as Hema rolls out updates. Personally I would really like to see the external SD card made accessible for map storage, currently it is only designated as storage for multimedia, as that would be a big upgrade to the internal 6 GB, meaning that you could carry around a lot more detailed mapping.

StefanK
StefanK

July 02, 2017

Was hoping to buy the HX-1 but after these reviews I will wait for HX-2!! Too many unnecessary shortcomings in this version unfortunately.

Christopher O'Keeffe
Christopher O'Keeffe

June 30, 2017

Hi Guys, I just want to give you an important update on the availability of the HN7, as of this week Hema has completely run out of stock and is not going to be producing any more. We have ordered 50 of the last 200 units, we had hoped to get more but that was all that we could get hold of. Please contact us if you would like one as we do not expect them to last long, at this stage they are due to arrive this week commencing 3 July.

Jeff
Jeff

June 18, 2017

I found Chris and his Patrick to be very very helpful with some issues I had with hardware they were great I would recommend them to anyone but I found Hema support to be as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike!

Jeff
Jeff

June 18, 2017

Still not impressed with the IGO street nav on my HN7 I have updated it many times and it still is CRAP! I have been told all sorts of stories from Here.com and constant error reporting has achieved NOTHING. It still continues to send you up no through roads and non existent roads that have been gone for twenty years! And I repeat I have done updates and they DO NOTHING but probably just steal information from your unit!!!

Harry                                                 saborna12@amnet.net.au
Harry saborna12@amnet.net.au

May 21, 2017

Why of why did the stop producing the HN6. That GPS did everything I need and more, I downloadead several countries including South Africa and used it for 8 weeks while touring the country. Now its stone dead and am fed up with the shoddy treatment from HEMA God know why they dont have branches in all the major cities around the country. Its in need of a map upgrade and a new battery which has died a mystery death, so much so that it wont even take a charge. Am looking at Garmin in preferance to Hema who have let me down badly

Garry
Garry

May 03, 2017

I hope the HX1 is better at being a street GPS than the HN1.
The HN7 has a habit of wanting you to do pointless loops.. I was using it on a trip from WA to NSW and it frequently wanted me to go back and complete a diversion it had decided I needed!

Gary Cullen
Gary Cullen

April 01, 2017

Christopher Okeefe, in your compare, you mentioned Hn7 would be better for prospectors can you please explain why, I am interested in buying a HX1 . Thanks Gary.

Greg B
Greg B

March 02, 2017

Looking to update my old VMS 700HDs, however……..Seems the HX is falling short of the mark (no camera) as does the HN7 (slow). Fast updates and instructions are essential. How many turn offs are miss by “turn left” just after the corner? My oldish VMS that accepts camera, is fast enough, has OK battery life, knows where Neuram Creek Bush Retreat is, navigates around the city just fine. My only criticism of the VMS is the button locations and the rubber coating is getting a bit sticky after all this time. One issue very early on was sorted in a fantastic manner by the Adelaide agent and zero issues since.
Think I will look at another VMS 700HDx it comes with a camera

Simon
Simon

February 24, 2017

Have been using the HN7 for quite some time. It’s great that I can use it as a rear view camera monitor while towing our van. In other words we can see behind the van while driving so you always know who is behind and when they may attempt to pass. It’s such a shame the new HX1 does not support a camera input. For this reason we will not be purchasing the new HX1. Just to clear up others comments “New vehicles have reversing cameras”, keep in mind these reversing cameras cannot be forced to stay on while moving forward. Many who tow large vans or trailers use the camera for a rear view. In our case we have a button to toggle the camera view on or off which allows us to switch immediately between Map view and camera view in an instant. It means the HN7 is a dual purpose device. Good review thank you.

Colin Andrew
Colin Andrew

February 23, 2017

Oriole Franzmann – the speed camera/speed sign issue is a known software gliche that was fixed in the 2016 Q3 update. It was a PITA on the HN7 as well.

Colin Andrew
Colin Andrew

February 23, 2017

HX1 speaker is very poor quality compared with HN7. Very tinny sound and disappointing that a high end unit would use lesser quality parts than a predecessor unit.

Jonathan
Jonathan

February 21, 2017

Great write-up guys. Thanks for this. What i get from this is the HX-1 is faster, has more maps and is going to be updated and you can do that just with wifi (so travelling you can just pop into McDonalds and get an update). Definitely going to grab a HX-1. Saw one recently and its super fast and I love that it has a camera so I can take photos wherever i stop and add them to the track. After doing some research on what the cloud is this sounds like an awesome feature – just upload all your tracks and all your photos to the internet for the family to follow, great idea. Our 4WD already has an in-dash reverse camera so not worried about the difference there. The maps in the dash are utter rubbish though, so looking for something extra and Hema is the first and last stop for outback tracks. One thing to know about both though is that not all campsites have images. Its more like two-thirds.

Grey Nomad
Grey Nomad

February 13, 2017

Great review. Thanks

Tony Baker
Tony Baker

February 12, 2017

still debating which unit to purchase, the HN7 is cheaper and will probably suit my needs, although the screen resolution on the HX1 is a positive.
thanks for the great review and comparison. Tony

Paul Le Mottee
Paul Le Mottee

January 29, 2017

Christopher,
Very professional comparison. Very helpful in making my decision to purchase. I have been using the HemaExplorer App on my iPad for years.

Oriole Franzmann
Oriole Franzmann

January 21, 2017

I up dated from the HN 6 to the HX 1 ,we were very disappointed with being told there was a speed camera ahead when it was a speed zone sign a big difference in both . You could become complacent about it thinking it is just a new speed zone.
The maps are not up to date with the speed zones and for the amount we paid for this unit it should be a far better product.
The sound has been improved which you can now hear where we need to go.
Over all 7 out of 10

Greg
Greg

January 21, 2017

Update to previous post…Hema HX1-
1.Advised that it can be updated to the Q3 version using NaviExtras in the same way as the HN7 using a USB cable to connect HX1 to computer. Neurum Creek Bush Retreat becomes a reachable destination after the update.
2.Future updates will be able to be downloaded by WiFi at some time in the future.
3.At this point in time, files, trips etc from the HN7 can not be transferred to the HX1 but Hema are working on it.
4.Although the original setup on the HX1 under UNITS requires selecting km/L or L/100km, fuel information can not be entered. This may come in the future as an update.

Greg
Greg

January 18, 2017

Be aware that the HX1 does not have the manual available in PDF format which makes a hard copy tedious. It also is currently’ being revised.’ The HX1 has an outdated version installed on purchase which is the Q1 version and it CAN NOT be updated as it is the latest version available for the HX1. My Hema HN7 runs the latest Q3 version which was an update at the end of 2016. Your HX1 therefore is behind by 2 versions and the release of the next version, according to a Hema technical advisor today, is ‘in the near future.’ Try navigating to Neurum Creek Bush Retreat from the Camps Australia on the HX-it is impossible but works on the HN7.
Interestingly, you can not Power off the unit if it is attached to the cigarette lighter power lead as suggested. If the car ignition is on or is turned on, it will Power on. If you then Power Off the unit, it will restart automatically. If you place the HX1 in sleep mode, it will power up again each time the ignition is turned back on and has to placed back to sleep by tapping the Power button. The ‘old’ Quick Start guide states that, ‘on short trips, the unit may not attain a decent charge while in sleep mode’ so charging the unit when in use would charge even less. It will need to be fully charged before starting your trip and then every night outside the vehicle.The same manual suggests connecting to a 2A (2000mA) port. At least a full charge can be achieved if the port remains alive ie the computer stays on or the port is attached to 240volts through an adaptor/charger.
The HN7 and my Garmin on the Suzi are at least- up to date, fully charged, operate on the latest version, have a PDF manual and a sunshade that fits! A $650 unit which, up to now, fails the advertised promotional hype.

Glen D
Glen D

January 13, 2017

HX1 looks great, without the reversing camera i will stick with my HN7

Greg
Greg

January 10, 2017

Great read. I already have the HN7 still tossing up on the HX1. Do like the lifetime free updates on the 4×4 maps. I can’t figure why a reversing camera is so important. I teach towing and don’t use cameras during training or day to day.

Jarka
Jarka

January 09, 2017

Reversing camera is a definite deal breaker for us – towing an expensive caravan it is important to know what we are reversing into. Hema – can you let possible customers know why this was left out???

Peter
Peter

January 07, 2017

A great read on both units I will be purchasing the HX1, it seems some people require a reversing unit, as stated most cars do come with them these days. What happened to the second person getting out and guiding the driver back if required, reversing units are not always the correct answer when reversing, children are still getting run over even when cars have reversing cameras.

Michael Attard
Michael Attard

December 23, 2016

Thanks for the review don’t know what all the fuss is about reversing cameras!
HX-1 looking to be a great investment.

Loz
Loz

December 20, 2016

I was all set to buy the x1 until I realised no reversing camera? Still looking.

Dave
Dave

December 19, 2016

Great compare of the two units, and I will be making my purchase of the new HX-1 soon. Disappointing to see from the reviews that we have advanced so much with our driving and towing skills that we need to have a reversing camera in the vehicle although around young families in the suburbs I can also see the need.

David
David

November 07, 2016

Great write-up comparing the two units, thank you. Having only just purchased a HN7, was a little bit disappointed to see a new unit come out. Probably my major complaint with the HN7 is how slow its processing speed is, to open maps or to open menus. Surely in this day & age some additional RAM would have been easy.

Kim Winterborn
Kim Winterborn

November 03, 2016

Too much clutter on the windscreen with another device for caravan rear view so HX1 is no good for me HN7 screen is not bright enough so I will stick with Garmin and paper maps for off road.

John M
John M

October 28, 2016

No reversing camera = No purchase
My current setup has replaced my rear vision mirror with a HN7 switchable between mapping and rear vision.

Ian Wickens
Ian Wickens

October 27, 2016

Reversing camera issue not a deal breaker. Almost all new cars have one (the Disco I bought 7 years ago does, as does my daughter’s 8 year old Toyota 4wd) and, if not, and if it’s important then there are other options available to achieve a result.

Ashley E
Ashley E

October 24, 2016

I was totally set on buying the HX1 until I read that it doesn’t support the reversing camera. I will not be purchasing the unit for this reason.

Peter
Peter

October 14, 2016

Thanks for the article especially the way you compared the two units. I found that very helpful, which brings me to the point of being disappointed that the HX1 doesn’t come with a reversing camera capability. It definitely ticks all the other boxes we require for our off road travel.

Chris Guy
Chris Guy

October 11, 2016

You say….
It is surprising then that the HX-1 does come with the ability to connect a reversing camera. I feel it is a feature which is going to be missed…..
you should have said DOESN’T

and you say…
and secondly it allows the GPS to work even when their is limited line of site,

you should have used SIGHT

I say….
Thanks for the review, very good to have your thoughts and honest opinion.

No need to post this just trying to help you with proof reading!

Cheers,

Chris

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