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Route 66 Mini Regional

Bargain

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The Mini has an ambient light detector that lets it know when night is closing in and automatically switches the maps to a darker colour scheme. It's a nice touch and does make the maps easier on the eye during nocturnal travel.

The voice prompts, delivered in a pleasant female tone, are timely and extremely accurate. Roundabout exits, for example, are highlighted by number, so you get "on the roundabout take the fourth exit" rather than "on the roundabout turn right", while on the open road you will be told to take the "third left in 200 yards" rather than just "turn left in 200 yards".

Similarly with merger options, you're always told to either keep left or right, never to carry "straight on".

Route 66 Mini regional sat-nav

One of the smallest, lightest and cheapest standalone satnavs on the market

All told, the voice prompts are so good you could pretty much ignore the screen. Nor are they overly intrusive. One slight annoyance with the Mio C620 - reviewed here was that the voice prompt kept telling us when it was making a "route recalculation". The Mini just gets on with it and keeps quiet.

Something we didn't expect to find on a system this cheap is the excellent name search facility built into the main destination finder. Type in "Trafford Centre" and bingo, it finds it. Type in "Hope Hospital" and it finds the Hope Hospital in Salford. All too often performing this sort of search involves fiddling about with other menus when really it shouldn't. Navigation preferences can be changed between fastest or shortest journey for cars, HGVs or pedestrians.

The Mini isn't without the odd glitch, though. Every so often it would chuck a wobbly trying working out its orientation when making right turns across duel carriageways and spin the map through 360° a few times. Similarly, if we strayed into a large car park it tried frantically to place us on the closest road rather than drawing the obvious conclusion that we were not actually on the road.

Only one navigational hiccup occurred during our test: the Mini made an unnecessary diversion off, and then back onto, an A road. Actually it did this three times, then on the fourth attempt got it right. Go figure.

Other than that, in a week of use that took us to parts of Manchester we had never been to before, and frankly never wish to go to again, the Mini didn't miss a beat and led us fair and true.

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Next page: Verdict

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