When a product does exactly what it says on the tin, and actually does it well, it's a feat worthy of celebration. But today's consumer is always looking for that little bit more. The Acer v200 Travel Companion is not a mobile communications device, it's not a web browsing tablet, a multimedia player, a boy racer's ‘Get out of jail free' card or a congestion alert station - it's a satnav. Plain and simple.
So it's refreshing to see Acer concentrate less on turning the Acer v200 Travel Companion into a half-baked all-in-one portable, and more on the features that will help get you safely to your destination. And the Acer v200 Travel Companion is exactly the sort of device you'll be looking for if the concept of GPS is somewhat foreign to you. Menus are intuitive, it works straight out of the box, and the absence of a stylus and unnecessary buttons on the Acer v200 Travel Companion's casing make finger operation a breeze.
A multistop planner is the Acer v200 Travel Companion's wildcard, a feature that often isn't included with devices twice the price, and a far better rendition than that of the Keomo Personal Navigation also reviewed here. There's also the option to avoid particular roads, to navigate to a seven-digit postcode, to choose from a good selection of POIs (points of interest), and even to switch to pedestrian mode. Night and 3D modes are a given, but we would have liked the opportunity to change what is shown on screen. Vocal prompts for speed warnings, route recalculations and an unreliable signal can be also be given as symbols or text, but there is little else in the way of customisation. That said, on-the-road accuracy within 3m and clear mapping more than make up for this.
The Acer v200 Travel Companion is priced reasonably well, and you won't get a decent satnav for much less than £119, but we're yet to see a true match for the V7 PMD 1400 we gave a Gold award to in the June 07 issue, which does all of the above and more for £4 less. However, this device no longer appears to be on sale in the UK and, as such, it wouldn't take a genius to point out that the Acer v200 Travel Companion is clearly the better deal.