Until now, there haven't been any properly compact phones that were specifically designed for satellite navigation use. You can buy third-party software for some phones, but how well they work in practice varies greatly depending on which handset you use it on. So we were all set to shower the Nokia with praise. Unfortunately, we weren’t as impressed as we might have been.

One of our first tests measured the time it took the device to pinpoint our location. Minutes later, we were still waiting. We gave it a further two shots in case we'd chosen a particularly poor place to pick up satellite information, but it fared just as badly.

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Then we thought that being a GPS device that doesn't fall back on a separate receiver may put the Nokia at a disadvantage - yet other units, including HP's clunky iPaq 6915 and Mio's A701, have no trouble with this.

The maps themselves, provided by Navteq and Route 66, are clean and easy to follow, with major roads that stand out distinctly from the minor ones. The default setting on the Navigator’s somewhat shiny display tended to make whatever was onscreen seem rather washed out, but this was easily fixed by turning down the brightness.

You can choose between shortest, quickest and pedestrian modes and search by contacts, addresses, nearby locations and history - an interesting inclusion, but one not populated with many entries. You can zoom in and out using the * and # keys and it's possible to view the whole route at once.

It's optimistic about how quickly you can reach destinations, though, and doesn't seem to factor in elements such as London congestion - it seemed to think we'd be able to complete a 13km journey from central London to the suburbs in 21 minutes. I wish! It also seems to lose its place fairly frequently, which doesn't inspire confidence should you be depending on it to get you somewhere in a hurry.

You can save locations under My Landmarks, designating them as either Home or Office-related, while, under Nearby, you can drill down by POI (point of interest) type: bank, eat and drink, community, entertainment and so on. Click to have the Navigator automatically hunt down any of your chosen category and highlight them as you pass on your road to somewhere else.

The speaker resides at the top, above the 42mm-deep display, and directions are uttered clearly. Another handy feature on the GPS front is that you can get weather forecasts - useful if you want to know whether a trip to the seaside is likely to leave you stuck in the car with a bag of soggy chips.

If you're thinking of venturing further than the great British seaside, you'll need to grab maps for other countries from the Nokia website. Since it's a month or two before the Navigator launches, we've not yet had word on how much these will cost.

As for the phone itself, it's a 3.5G handset with a 2Mp (megapixel) camera and a microSD card slot so you can add music and more. The camera is protected by a ridged metal cover that you slide down when you want to take a shot.

We're surprised to find it doesn't have a touchscreen, since the screen itself is so large. But the batteries seem to run down fairly sharpish, so we can only assume Nokia thought it wise not to chance it.

Nokia Navigator: Specs

  • Maps: Navteq, UK
  • traffic updates via GPS, speed camera alerts included
  • 2.2in, 240x240
  • Rerouting, full postcode search, car/pedestrian/cycling modes
  • 2.5 hours battery life, USB charger
  • 47x19x110mm, 176g
  • 2Mp camera, 3G phone, car cradle available separately
  • Maps: Navteq, UK
  • traffic updates via GPS, speed camera alerts included
  • 2.2in, 240x240
  • Rerouting, full postcode search, car/pedestrian/cycling modes
  • 2.5 hours battery life, USB charger
  • 47x19x110mm, 176g
  • 2Mp camera, 3G phone, car cradle available separately

OUR VERDICT

Despite a fair few niggles, the Navigator is a reasonably likable device. The GPS feature has a dedicated launch button, making a nice change from having to track down the satnav software via a software menu. You can continue to view your route even when you've flipped up the Nokia's slide-up screen to access the phone keypad, and the intregration with your contacts is well managed.

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