Show me the way to go home: GPS on test
Ten gadgets to get you from A to B
Group Test Gone are the days of thumbing through your dog-eared 1988 AA route map while trying to navigate the fast lane of the M25 in search of your pal's new London pad. For now is the time of satellite navigation.
Over the past three years, the market has been flooded with a vast array of navigation units employing the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to get you from A to B as quickly and - hopefully - as safely as possible. And if you want to know which is best for your needs, this little lot should hold the answer...
Satellite navigation and outdoor gadget specialist Magellan has finally followed the obvious route and launched the CrossoverGPS, a go anywhere at any time navigation unit that laughs in the rain-sodden face of the great British weather. The rugged, yet sleek and pocket-sized Crossover means you won't get lost whether you're travelling by car, boat or foot. Weighing in at a middling 235g, the Crossover is IPX-4 waterproof with a battery life of around eight hours and a clear and bright 3.5in touchscreen with good on-screen graphics.
Pre-loaded with street maps for Great Britain and Ireland you can upload the whole of Europe via an optional SD card for driving with street-by-street visual and voice guidance, live traffic reports, multi-destination routing and SmartDetour, which automatically routes you around slow motorway traffic. There are millions of points of interest (POIs) to keep you entertained, with interactive icons for instant routing to where you want to go. There's a decent music player and photo viewer too.
The Crossover's unique selling point, though, is its versatility. Alongside the street and topographic maps is a boating guide offering latitude and longitude co-ordinates, with the relevant nautical mode switching the read-out to nautical miles and knots. Magellan has also thrown in a compass and altimeter for any less conventional route you may choose to take - colloquially known as 'the shortcut'.
TomTom One Europe
TomTom has really hit the proverbial satnav nail on the head with its range of simple to use and good looking - if a little bland - GPS units, but for the average commuter operating on a budget there's nothing better than the TomTom One Europe.
At just 174g it's feather light and easily small enough to slip in the pocket - skinny jeans notwithstanding. The One Europe - there's a non-Euro map version available for a few quid less - holds a puny 32MB of on-board memory, but uses an SD card to store its bountiful maps. There are no buttons beyond the power key, the TomTom relying instead on that very good 3.5in touchscreen for all your menu navigation needs.
The interface is clean and easy to use, the screen not too sensitive, and the maps clear, concise and easy to refer to while driving. Bluetooth 2.0 is included for hands-free phone calls, and there are thousands of POIs for instantly finding petrol stations, banks and other essentials. The budget price does show up with a lack of text-to-speech functionality, so it's basic voice instructions rather than road names read out to you. Also missing is any media playback paraphernalia, but that's probably a boon considering the less than ample two-ish hour battery life. And in all honesty, do we really need any of these extras anyway?
In use the One Europe was almost faultless, picking up the satellite signal quickly, giving with clear and concise directions, and performing pretty speedy route recalculations in the face of nasty traffic or an unexpected diversion. Great mapping, insultingly easy to use interface and a price that can't be beaten. Budget satnav doesn't get any better.
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Navigon's TS 7000T looks more like a small LCD TV than a satnav unit thanks to its expansive 4.3in, 16:9 touchscreen display and a skinny, sleek black surround with minimal detailing. Built into the svelte livery is a very capable satnav system that comes pre-loaded with a 2GB memory card stuffed to the hilt with mapping for 37 European countries - so pretty much all of them then. And thanks to that huge display and Navigon's traditionally easy-to-read map layouts, breezing across the continent becomes a headache-free experience bar the dodgy Euro driving ethic, that is.
Alongside traditional route direction the Navigon also features an "economic route" function that uses local knowledge-esque information to navigate through towns and cities and at the other end of the scale a "scenic route" option for those in no particular hurry.
Using the particularly clever MobileNavigator 6 software, the Navigon features the likes of lane assist and POI technology alongside GATSO detection for keeping that accelerator foot under control as you race towards the Autobahns of Germany. It also has TMC traffic jam avoidance so you won't have to slow down too much when you get there.
What we really like about the 7000T though is the country-specific info it automatically volunteers as you traverse from border to border on your epic road trip. Freewheel from France into Italy, and the 7000T will immediately recognise the difference in road laws, letting you know the likes of speed limits, drink-drive regulations, traffic rules and any other salient information that'll help keep you on the road and out of jail. Which is always handy. Looks great, works brilliantly.