Sat Nav Buying Advice
Tired of getting lost on the roads? It's about time you got a Sat Nav
There are no two ways about it, Satellite Navigation is great. It's space age stuff really, something that was dreamt up in Elstree Film Studios for a mind-blowing James Bond gadget. The fact that you could be in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, without a clue as to where you are in the world and with in a matter of seconds a box no bigger than your hand will tell you how to get home. For free. For ever. It's brilliant. Sorry about the rant, but Sat Navs don't get the recognition they deserve.
Now that's out of the way, let's get down to buying advice:
Today, there is probably about a million and one different Sat Navs that you can have, that in essence all do to same thing - which is telling you when and where to turn next. So why not go for the cheapest? Good question and to be blunt with you, there really isn't a solid argument for not buying the cheapest. You can pick up a unit that costs £50 that will nine times out of ten get you from A-B the exactly the same way as one that'll cost you £300.
But the fact is, a lot of people want a little bit more from their Sat Navs. A slightly bigger screen for example, that'll cost you another £20-£30, pushing the total up to around £70-£80. What about a little feature like IQ Routes, where the Sat Nav will remember your driving style and suggest routes that suit you better while avoiding certain roads during certain times, i.e. roads near schools at 3:30pm. Want that too? Then add on another £10-£20. Traffic information? Another £30-£50. European maps? Again another £20-£30. You can even get a pay monthly service that sends you pictures of traffic jams on your route so you know how heavy traffic is. You could easily end up paying more for the additional features than the Sat Nav itself.
Can I use my Phone's GPS as a Sat Nav.
Using your phone as a Sat Nav does work. You can download an app that will double up your phone as a Sat Nav that works pretty well, even in places with little or no signal whatsoever. The problem with using your phone as a Sat Nav is that a lot of your phone's memory is going to be taken up with the large map file sizes that are required for Sat Navs, roughly 1GB and unless you have a big touchscreen based phone you just aren't going to be able to see what the map is telling you clearly enough for it to be effective. Not to mention that if you want to get an app that is going to perform well it's going to cost around the £35-£45 mark and you're going to have to buy a stand and in-car charger which will be another £20, after all that you might as well buy a dedicated in car Sat Nav.
Which one is right for you?
Before you buy a Sat Nav you should ask yourself what sort of driver are you? If you rarely leave your town/city much and don't drive long distances then we would recommend a cheap and cheerful Sat Nav like the MIO F360 GPS. It fires-up and locks on to a Satellite quickly (you'd be amazed how many don't), it has a 3D map and lane assistance features, is loud and clear and you can even update it should the roads in Britain change completely. Not bad for £59.99.
If you can see yourself using a Sat Nav for longer distances and on a more regular basis, then forking out a little extra is a good idea. When you get stuck in a lengthy traffic jam on a long journey, and it will happen, you'll be kicking yourself for not paying that bit more for the live traffic package that could have neatly negotiated you round the whole mess and save yourself hours of agony sitting in your car going nowhere. If you drive a lot in the UK then sooner or later you're probably going to need to drive in Europe and nothing is cheap when it comes to car rental in Europe, so we suggest a bit of forward planning and getting a European compatible Sat Nav rather than paying €30 a pop to rent one. If this sounds like the sort of driver you are then you won't go far wrong with a Garmin nuLink! 2340 which costs £174.00
If you live in your car and want a Sat Nav that is not just going to get you to where you're going, but also double up as your best friend while navigating you around like a 21st century Captain Cook, then look no further then the TomTom GO LIVE 1005. It's the nuts. Not only does it look the business but also it's also got the brains. It's fluid 5-inch screen makes operation a doodle, but the real piece de résistance is the TomTom HD Traffic feature, which will automatically update and recalculate your route (if necessary) every two minutes, seven times more frequent then its nearest competitor. The king of Sat Navs for the kings of the road. £299.