Thanks to a whole host of handy smartphone apps, getting from A to B has never been easier. You can’t deny the convenience of having an entire navigation system in your pocket, but an in-car sat nav device still has a lot to offer.
Sat nav or sat nav app: which is right for me?
Both sat nav apps and devices use satellite navigation to help you get around with ease, but there are some key differences.
A sat nav app uses your phone’s GPS to replicate a sat nav. While they work just fine most of the time, they do lack some of the features and precision that a dedicated sat nav device has. Not to mention the cost - when you start racking up miles on long journeys they’ll eat into your mobile data and drain your phone’s battery. Not ideal if you’ve got a long trip ahead of you.
How do I choose the best sat nav for me?
For a road trip through Europe
In a nutshell: You’ll need a sat nav that’s calm in a crisis and covers all the continent’s major routes
Planning to take your car overseas this summer? Whether it’s a booze cruise to France or a family getaway, a proper sat nav will help keep you on track.
Look out for…
- Full European maps to cover your route from Brussels to Beziers
- Live traffic updates to help you keep moving up when the unexpected slows you down
- Touchscreen controls and easy-to-read screen so you can concentrate on driving on the right (that’s the left!) side of the road.
- Lane guidance to talk you through complex junctions on the Autobahn
- Voice-recognition for quick fixes when you take a wrong turn
Why not try… the Garmin DriveSmart 51LMT-D EU
This sat nav is good to go straight from the box. It’s easy to set up in your car and to operate on the move, thanks to its easy-to-read screen. Most importantly, it has full coverage of European maps that are updated for free – they look crystal clear on the 5-inch screen.
It’s quick to reroute if you take a wrong turn, and flags up traffic that might slow you down – giving you the option to pick a better route. You can even ask for directions with voice commands – perfect if you get lost. Oh, and to top it off, it comes with a smart case so you can store it neatly in your glovebox.
New drivers on a budget
In a nutshell: You want an easy-to-understand sat nav with basic features that’ll boost your confidence on the road
Getting out there when you’ve recently passed your test can be nerve-wracking. Arming yourself with the right gear will go a long way to helping you find your feet on the road. And if you’ve just shelled out on a new car, you’ll be on a tight budget to kit it out.
Look out for…
- Simple screen layout that makes it easy to search for destinations
- Full UK road maps to get you from A to B in the big city as well as out in the sticks
- Clear audio instructions with spoken street and road names… just like a human.
- Lane guidance for help on those scary motorway junctions
Why not try… TomTom Start 42 UK
This ready-to-go sat nav has all the basic features plus a few extras to make your life on the road easier. All at a budget-friendly price. The display is clear and easy to read and audio instructions are clear as well. Its Lifetime Maps feature means you can plug the sat nav into your computer and regularly update it with the latest routes.
What’s more, it finds the nearest available parking space with Parking Assist, so you won’t have to spend ages searching for a spot. Phew.
For business on-the-road
In a nutshell: You’re on a deadline, so you need a sat nav that helps you beat the rush-hour traffic and stay connected wherever the job takes you
If you rack up some serious miles in your company car you need a piece of kit that works as hard as you do. You want something that gets you to your destination without delay and looks the business.
Look out for…
- Built-in Wi-Fi for live traffic updates to help you adapt your route
- Bright and responsive screen for easy map reading
- A link-up with your smartphone to send hands-free text messages and make calls on the move
- Worldwide maps for wherever your business takes you
- Premium design for a slick, professional look
Why not try… TomTom GO 6200
The Savile Row suit of sat navs. A clever magnetic attachment makes fitting it slick and easy, while built-in Wi-Fi gives you live traffic updates while you’re on the move.
Maps are even easier to read on this larger six-inch screen. Plus you can bring up text messages or even better – just have the device read them aloud to you. It’s a PA for your car.
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