Sat-Nav overview

Jan 27, 2011 No Comments by

Not too many of us trust satellite navigation.  Apparently.  Some study or other reckoned seven out of eight directional dimbos thought they might be being sent the wrong way – or at least not the best way – by their insistent little dashboard chum.

TF can see why you might be glad of sat-nav in a foreign country, far into the wilds, in the dark – but not in most other scenarios.  A sense of direction is innate.  If you don’t have one you must be Mrs Fogey.  Men don’t ask for directions because we don’t need to.  We look at a map and remember. Then, we make mental notes of waypoints for the return journey.  We read signposts and road names.  We use our frazzled brains.  But increasingly this is not the done thing.  Instead a synthesised, strident bloke (or bird) does all the thinking for you; barking out directions even though a dim glow in your subconscious is trying to tell you this route just cannot be right.  Frustrating while behind the wheel; infuriating in a mini cab being driven by one whose sub-cranial floss is permanently on auto-pilot and who can’t quite believe that you, who have done this same journey via every possible route for the past 20 years, might just know better than a galaxy of Sputniks.  And as for traffic reports – er, listen to 5-Live or use the TP/TA function on your FM radio.

Smartphones often have sat-nav but you might be paying out of your roaming allowance to use it which will be cripplingly expensive abroad – where you need it most.  Where smartphone GPS scores, though is in the apps.  For example, unless your gastronomic requirements are met by KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut you might find the en route dining suggestions somewhat lacking in the average sat-nav device.  Likewise, what qualifies as a ‘point of interest’ might more accurately be described as ‘pointless waste of time craphole we have been paid to include in our software.’  Smartphones can be tweaked to be at least as smart as you.  Much smarter if you drive a mini-cab.

Such beauty as there is in dedicated sat-navs stems from there being no necessary charges once you’ve paid for the device.  Map updates should be free – check that they are – and the virtual entirety of the Western European road network is usually included.  Venture further afield and you may have to cough up to download the relevant maps.  To further part you from your cash, sat-nav companies will also try and flog you speed camera site updates and all manner of crucial but extraneous guff.  Resist.  They also have a cunning strategy by which users go online and tell of new routes, changes in priority and the like – the sort of thing map-makers used to charge for and which shining knights of the road are now providing out of the goodness of their own smarty hearts.  For free.  But, hey, you’re now part of the sat-nav community and communities help each other out for no more recompense than a rosy glow of smug, selfless contentment.