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Becker Traffic Assist Highspeed 7934

Germany is a country in whose towns and villages one can get very lost. A personal navigation device (PNA/SatNav/GPS) is essential.

This is the story of my first such device, one which followed the acquisition of a new car.

TRAFFIC ASSIST Highspeed product image

It was 21-07-2006 when I purchased the Becker Traffic Assist Highspeed 7934 for all of 399€. Although that's a chunk of money it must be remembered that back then GPS navigation wasn't as commonplace as it is today -- let alone as a standard app on an ordinary smartphone.

If memory serves correctly it was Garmin who ruled the roost at the time while TomTom were still a relative newcomer on the budget market. Range and variety of products were also much smaller. Purchase prices started at 200€ and could go as high as something like 600€ for a premium device.

I later received a 50€ refund after I complained that the online version of the same real-world store was cheaper than the one where you have to pay for parking and petrol to get there.

That said, my Becker device comes with all the bells and whistles, features material for some 37 European countries, knows the location of the nearest petrol station and MacDonald’s, and it complains when I exceed the posted speed limit.

Map data is contained on a 1 Gigabyte SD card -- of which it occupies around 850Mb of space. The rest can be filled with pictures or music since the device can also show and play JPG and MP3/WMA files (features I never made use of). The SD card itself as well as its WinCE basis could be updated and accessed via a USB port. The travel guide and map resolution on the resistive 3.5-inch touch-screen is dynamically adjust to your driving speed and are viewable in either 2D or 3D.

The magodie even has a "mood light" -- which is really just two luminous bars on its sides, emanating the choice of a deep red or cool blue light. The fact that they matched the car's instrument illumination scheme was a pleasant coincidence. Frankly, the amount of technology packed into such a small device is nothing short of amazing!

Of course, knowing the exact current location by way of longitude, latitude and elevation are standard features -- exactly what you'd expect it to do. But in 2006 this almost seemed magical.

Perhaps the biggest irritation about the device was that it sometimes took up to three minutes after booting before she found her bearings, was ready to receive instructions or, especially just as you start your journey, she'd yell out of the blue to "Please make a U-turn now!" Yes, it was a "she".

My wife eventually gave her the nickname "Bertha".

Click for large view

English user manual | More photos: DVD-ROM | Settings screen 1/3

Over the years and as roads and highways changed and traffic circles / roundabouts replaced intersections, the original card material became increasingly out of date. Updated map data proved difficult to get hold of as the brand's owner, Harman Becker Automotive Systems, sold off its stakes to a company called United Navigation. Every time I got around to looking for updated cards either their site was down or the unit simply wasn't supported. As of 2017 they're bankrupt.

Still, Bertha Becker turned out to be a helpful assistant in the vocal form of a nice, friendly lady with a prim British accent who guided me through too many places to mention over the years -- without as much as batting an eyelid, missing a clock cycle or nagging from the back seat when I deviated off her suggested route. We had some good times although in Brussels she did come close to being thrown out of a moving vehicle due to user error.

It's April 2019. To coincide with a new car I've again upgraded to a new GPS device with a supposed life-time's worth of map updates. Its display is larger, it's about a third as thick, cost half as much, and is much faster to boot.

The old device has been let loose on eBay. Here's hoping someone will take in Big Bertha.

Thanks, gal. It's been a fun ride.

This page last updated: 02-05-2019 | Related blog post