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Group test: 8 satnavs and GPS smartphones reviewed

The 8 best satnavs and GPS-enabled mobile phones

Whether you want a faster, less stressful way of getting from place to place or some guidance while expanding your horizons, you're spoilt for choice on the navigation front. PC Advisor tests eight GPS devices.

About this time of year we start getting itchy feet. Sitting at home watching YouTube clips and American Idol while the rain drips down the window just doesn't cut it any more - we want to be out on the open road or, failing that, at least out in the open air, exploring new lands and admiring previously unknown landscapes.

Travel: there's nothing like it. And, thanks to satellite navigation, it's easier than ever. Tell your portable device where you want to go and whether you'll be using pedal power or putting foot to metal, and it'll cleverly plot a suitable route. But whether this should be a PND - a portable navigation device that sits on your dashboard - or a smartphone with onboard maps remains to be seen.

Today's satnavs can work out the most pleasant route as well as the speediest, or even the most economical. We also expect our trusty TomTom or Garmin to be able to show us which lane to take when we negotiate a junction. In fact, what we now term a 'satnav' is much more than a mere 'get me from A to B' device.

Maps are updated by everyday road users, as well as by the companies that produce the maps and software interfaces. TomTom pioneered the concept of real-time navigation that varied according to the time of day and the day of the week. The result is that you may be shown a direct route through town on one occasion but a more circuitous one during rush hour.

An adjunct to this is the traffic management console (TMC), which receives frequent updates about traffic jams and incidents that may affect your journey. When choosing a satnav it pays to check whether the unit comes with TMC and whether this is offered as a separate unit with antenna, is built in or is an upgrade option. Also watch out for the subscription costs associated with real-time traffic updates.

NEXT PAGE: use your common sense

Index:

  1. The 8 best satnavs and GPS-enabled mobile phones
  2. Satnavs: no substitute for common sense
  3. Group test: personal navigation device reviews
  4. Group test: GPS-enabled smartphone reviews
  5. BlackBerry navigation app
  6. Desktop navigation app
  7. Navigating with your iPhone

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