Show me the way to go home: GPS on test
Ten gadgets to get you from A to B
Navigon TS 7000T
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.
Mio Technology H610
Mio's H610 looks to take satellite navigation out of the car and into handbags across the nation, because it's aimed directly at girls. And although we can feel the icy breeze of techno-loving feminists huffing across the nation, the H610 is actually a very tidy unit. Suitably diminutive - so it'll fit in the Prada bag, sweedie, darling - the Mio features a 2.7in touchscreen framed by a series of "feminine" interchangeable surrounds - two come supplied - and the kind of pick-up-and-go simplicity any technophobe female will love.
Behind that flashy façade sit maps for 24 European countries with 1.8m POIs supplied by Tele Atlas, 1GB of memory with an SD slot for expandable media so you - OK, she - can take advantage of the in-built MP3 player and picture viewer. The mapping software features seven-digit postcode search and is simple enough to use, though that screen is a little small to be ultra-clear when driving. It even uses a male voice to keep the ladies company. There's no traffic update info, though, so getting stuck in a jam is as likely as ever.
Alongside the standard mapping gubbins, Mio has opted to include Outlook syncing, digital compass, various games and its WorldMate software, which offers weather info, currency conversion, measurements, dialling codes and, most importantly, clothing size conversions "to facilitate more effective shopping abroad". Like they need any help...
The Mio is a well thought out and easy-to-use GPS unit that, although catering to serious stereotype in places, should fit nicely into the life of any upwardly mobile modern woman. Who likes shopping.
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Sony's entry-level navigation effort is a net little device that offers far more functionality than its diminutive price tag would suggest. The World War II submarine-sounding U51 is the first Sony satnav to use the company's new Gesture Command technology, a method of inputting your route that Sony claims is easier and safer than trying to navigate menu systems and type addresses while traversing busy roundabouts at high speeds - though aren't you supposed to enter your destination before you start your journey?
Despite its none too imposing size, the Sony is a chunky piece of kit weighing in at 280g and accompanied by a screen-mount cradle that looks like it was designed by JCB - it's absolutely enormous. The anti-glare and anti-fingerprint 3.5in touchscreen is very good though, as you would perhaps expect from Sony, and it's through this that you get to experience Gesture Command.
This new technology essentially lets you draw a line or shape or scribble a command like 'get me home' on the U51's screen with your finger, which the system then interprets as directions to your destination - and that's it. Sounds odd, but in practise it's intriguing yet simple to use. Alongside traditional journey planning, you can use it for one-touch functions like returning home or heading to a specific POI.
The U51's menus are easy to navigate and the maps are intuitive, although we sometimes found the huge amount of on-screen information detracted from actually seeing our intended route. All standard functions are in attendance - 2D and 3D maps for the UK and Ireland, voice guidance and speed camera locator, with a month's free updates - but there's no MP3 player or Bluetooth.