Sat-Nav buying guide

Feb 02, 2011 No Comments by

If you’ve managed to persuade yourself that a sat-nav is a better navigator than your brain and a map, here are some things to consider before you buy.

‘Try before you buy’ is useful with sat-nav.  Even if you end up buying on-line, it’s worth going to a shop and bothering the sales assistant with questions such as:

How up to date are the maps?  A sat-nav is only as good as the quality of the mapping and speed of updating.

Are map updates free?

Typically, how much do maps cost that aren’t pre-loaded onto the device?

Is the supplied software compatible with your PC?

If it has ‘live’ traffic information, how quickly is this collated and delivered to the device to help get you round jams?  Some sat-navs use your mobile phone to achieve this (via a Bluetooth connection) so make sure your phone and the device will ‘talk’ to each other.

Can you read the screen directions at the distance they will be away from you on the dash?

If it has voice recognition, does it work?  Try it out.

Can it detect mobile (as opposed to fixed) speed cash machines  – oh, silly me, I mean speed cameras?  Because it is all about safety after all.  Not raking in millions of squids.

Do you want extra route information to be of a certain standard?  In other words, do you want your sat-nav to be able to direct you to a restaurant that’s in, for example, the red Michelin guide instead of to a fast-food trough?  Newer sat-navs can have all manner of specific info downloaded onto them, thus making your journey potentially far more pleasant.  Although having said that Michelin have their own Via Michelin sat-nav brand to which their red hotel/restaurant guide is exclusive.

There are now plenty of sat-nav apps for mobile phones.  With smartphone screens now being such a good size and brands such as Nokia offering free in-car holder kits this can seem a better bet than a dedicated device.  While many navigation apps are free to download and install, using them might not be.  Check with your mobile service provider to see whether using a phone’s sat-nav comes out of your roaming allowance.