Welcome to the new age
Ah, the memories. Long, winding country lanes, the sun setting over the sea. Dad refusing to ask for directions. Mum looking at the map, making constructive suggestions with increasing levels of irritation. Me and my older brother in the back, bored rigid and desperate for a wee.
Well, now we have the glory that is satellite navigation. No longer will my Dad be corrected by a nagging feminine voice, warning him about the speed camera ahead. No, you can always turn off the sat nav's dulcet tones in a way you never could the wife, and just consult the screen instead.
You know where you can stick that
This Garmin sat nav is a nice size. It comes with a holding device that swivels, the suction cup on the other end fitting nicely to the windscreen, unless there's condensation or it's a hot day, in which case it may well decide to fall off at the most inopportune moment. The screen is a good size, and I don't need to squint to see what's going on. I can see all I need to at a glance, which is all you want to be doing when in charge of over a ton of speeding metal, glass and plastic.
For me, there's a good range of places you can position this. I have seen some blithering imbeciles on the road who seem to think it's a good idea to place their sat nav at eye level almost directly in front of them. Quite why anyone who would make such a decision is allowed to operate machinery of greater complexity than an egg whisk is quite beyond me, but I digress.
I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave
The unit has a battery life which is not that great. As a result, you are best advised plugging it into the car power socket. When switched on, you have the statutory warning screen, ignored in a similar way to emergency escape presentations on an aircraft.
This is an older model, succeeded by others with new functions like voice recognition, Bluetooth, park position recall and 3d. But the common major functionality is there. You can use, or add favourite destinations, simulate routes for planning or set parameters to avoid certain paths. There are (Echoey 1950's TV host voice) "Points - of - inter-est". This means hotels, restaurants etc.
One of the most helpful aspects is the ability for the sat nav to recalculate if you deviate from the path for any reason. A rest stop, roadworks, congestion etc. The display is helpful in that it illustrates where to turn and when, and particularly how far you have to travel before doing so. The default female voice is fine, though I understand it can be changed.
So, forget about your local road atlas, right? Wrong. There are limitations. You need to keep the device updated to avoid being warned about phantom speed cameras. That's fair enough. But it also is easily confused by non-standard junctions, giving you conflicting directions and often sending you the wrong way. Entering postcode destinations is often inaccurate.
Not really the sat nav's fault, but a pop-up tip reminding you that addresses are preferred would be useful. The biggest flaw I've found was when driving to Sandbanks in Poole. Coming down the M3 from London, all went swimmingly until the sat nav decided that it would rather take us miles off-course for a rural run across the Jurassic coast, past Corfe castle, down to the sea where we would need to catch a ferry to get to our destination!
Eye camera V1
This was the ultimate wake up call. It is all too easy to trust the sat nav against your instincts because you assume that it knows what it is doing. As a result, I will never wholly trust it. If I think something is a little dodgy, I will find a safe place to pull over and consult an actual map.
No matter how many new functions, bells and whistles are introduced, always, always keep a road atlas in the car. If you're going long distance on routes you've not used before, familiarise yourself with it beforehand. Sooner or later, you will be glad you did.
The Garmin Nuvi is the entry level machine in the range, but there are a host of different Nuvis. The 2495LMT costs around £160. If you're not feeling that flush, or see no need for the extras, the 2515LM costs £110. Almost a third less.
This product was purchased after the car dealer quoted me £1000 for a built in system.
This product caught my eye as it has a touch screen and a very easy to use interface, with things labeled far apart so its hard to 'accidently' choose something with 'large fingers'. This product comes with a computer link up so that new versions of the maps can be downloaded, for a fee, which seems a bit 'iffy' since the price off the product is so big in comparison to the compitators.
When using this product in the car its display is easy to see, even with the glare from the sun. At night the background turns dark and the roads glow white, which helps to see where your going in the dark.
Overall i would not recommend this product as the competitors offer similar products foir cheaper, and in some cases free updates (usually for a year only).