Billed as the world's first satnav designed to save you money as you drive, the Vexia Econav 350 UK is a great idea in theory, but not all that impressive in practice.
There are two models, the Vexia Econav 350 UK, with a 3.5in screen, plus a larger 4.5in version. Both come in either UK & Ireland or Europe flavours. Maps are supplied by TeleAtlas while Vexia's own On-Road 2008 software provides the pleasingly clean interface. There are too many options for such a small screen, however.
The Vexia Econav 350 UK works by calculating how much fuel you'll need, based on time of day for likely amount of traffic on the road, and whether there's a faster, more direct route to get you to your destination. A traffic-light system lets you know whether you should be in a different gear. You need to enter your vehicle's make, model, engine size and number of passengers.
When you enter destinations by postcode or placename, you don't need to switch between a screen of alphabetical characters, and a numbers and symbols. Addresses get stored automatically, by city or town rather than a heading of your choosing. Calculating routes takes forever and the Vexia Econav 350 UK doesn't always want to take you anywhere at all. Sometimes, we pressed Details and were soon underway; other times we had to re-enter our route for it to calculate over again.
We found the Vexia Econav 350 UK's touchscreen slow and unresponsive; most other satnavs we've tested recently have been more impressive in this respect. We'd have appreciated a faster processor than the Sirf III 400MHz CPU, even if Vexia claims it's ‘dual-core'. Spoken instructions are clear and calm and issued in time to change lanes or make a manoeuvre.
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We tasked the Vexia Econav 350 UK with a trip through London to East Anglia - a journey with which we were familiar but prepared to vary. Oddly, the Econav wanted us to head through central London - but not in a direction remotely toward that of our destination. Later, it decided to take us to the M25, even though we were already on the A12 - a fast A-road which ran direct to our destination.
We tried the Vexia Econav 350 UK on other journeys; again, finding issues with the interface and struggling to discern any benefit from the ‘green' routing features. In fact, whether we actually saved any fuel is moot, since we frequently had to return to reading a map.