* Prices may differ from that shown
I had mixed experiences with the Roadangel Navigator 6000. Firstly the Speed camera database is a massive plus. It only ever missed one camera which had only just been put up. I have driven all over the UK with it and other than that once it never failed me on this front. The on screen display was easy to tell if you were over the limit or not because of it's green for ok red for over the limit indicator. I can't fault the speed camera locator part. I would recommend going for the 7000 however because this tells you what the speed limit is as well as showing it on the screen which the 6000 just does the latter.
The navigation part was less successful although by no means a right off! Generally it got me exactly where I wanted to go and avoided the horror stories of sending you down gravel tracks etc. However, it did get a little confused by Glasgow on a trip up there. On numerous occasions it asked me to turn left, and then when I did asked me to make a U-Turn straight away which was very frustrating!
The unit itself did develope a fault on mine. The stylus could be adjusted using the options menu but on mine this didn't work and when the screen became misaligned I had no way of putting it back. Roadangel did replace and upgrade it to the 7000 free of charge for me and quickly though so I have good words to say about their customer service!
Overall I highly recommend this Satnav but would probably suggest you go for a 7000 as they seem to have ironed out the couple of faults this one had for me.
I have used the road angel nav6000 for six months now and what they dont tell you when you first buy it is that after the first six months if you dont pay the subscription they leave an annoying message on start up that tells you to subscribe, the unit will not continue to load until you press the cancel button.
It is very frustrating having to do this every time you start your car, I dont want to use the speed camera update fuction, I contacted the makers they told me there is nothing they can do about it and suggested that I sell the unit, how's that for after sales service?
If you pay the subscription charges you will have paid for the unit twice after five years.
The unit is just as capable of getting you lost as it is of getting you to your destination.
LET'S GET THE "WHY" BITS OUT OF THE WAY
After 36 years on the road (no wonder I'm tired), I've finally succumbed to a 3-point driving license endorsement for speeding.
No excuses; I'm not one of those people who flout the motorway limit for mile upon mile and somehow get away with it, but on occasions I guess, if we're all honest, we've entered a lower speed limit area and not noticed. This is what happened to me on 27th December. There was I dutifully thinking that I was doing 48 in a 50 limit, when a camera with other ideas flashed me. Apparently, for 400 yards or so at Ings on the A591 south of Windermere, it's a 40 limit and in the gloom I'd failed to spot the larger 40 signs at its commencement.
Once the indignation of having a criminal record was overtaken by resignation, I took the easy option and 'came quietly', paying my £60 in the process.
I used to have one of those little bleeper boxes that used the GPS satellite network to warn of impending speed cameras, but my latest car has an 'athermic windscreen' which uses thin metal foil to keep out the worst of the sun's UV rays. Unfortunately, it keeps out radio waves rather well too!
I gave the box to my daughter whose needs seemed greater than mine, having been 'done' twice in her novice year of driving and having had to sit a retest.
This got me thinking about getting another bleeper, but in doing so, I reasoned (and being a sucker for a gadget) why not go the whole hog and get a 'satnav' with the camera warning facility?
ROAD ANGEL 6000
Choosing one by reading reviews is not easy. For every one that's raved about, someone else will slate the said item for having poor reception or suffering from 'lock-ups'.
I certainly wasn't going to let the spotty Herbert in Halfords sway me towards the one with the best sales commission either.
The much-vaunted TomTom was entirely the wrong shape for me - there's nowhere on the somewhat space-age dashboard of my C4 where I could site a wedge of Edam.
I reckoned that maybe the variable reviews on almost all satnavs stemmed from the fact that as most people are able to stick these things on a sucker in their windscreen, reception was hit and miss depending on several variables, one of which being how much sky the satnav aerial could 'see'.
My installation would be different. Thanks to my 'radio-opaque' windscreen, I was almost sure yo need the external antenna anyway, and positioning the aerial could even be on the outside of the car, with no roof line to get in the way of tracking satellites. I could also take a more inventive view of where to 'stick it', the satnav itself that is. With the external antenna attached, the RA 6000 can see 10 GPS satellites consistently compared to 3 to 4 from my bedroom window. Ironically, it also contains something called a Sirf III receiver, which CAN, it seems, see through my windscreen, albeit with a couple less satellites from which to 'triangulate'.
However, the attraction in using the extra aerial was too strong, if only for cosmetic reasons - I don't want a bloody great sucker in the middle of my windscreen announcing to all an sundry that I've got a gadget worth ripping off, besides which, there's a nice little shelf in just the right place, where, with a bit of crafty placement of double-sided Velcro ® it sits as if it were built-in when I got the car.
This lower setting also suits 'vari-focal' glasses wearers (like me), as they don't then have to tilt their heads backwards to focus on something quite near AND high up. Where I place it now only needs a downwards glance without refocusing.
OH, ROAD ANGEL! DELIVER ME FROM ANOTHER 9 POINTS!
Let's be clear - RA 6000 isn't the cleverest bit of kit by far and like other machines at this lowish end of the price range, is prone to idiosyncrasies.
In my trawl of the subject, I'd found not only a clutch of satnavs with camera warnings, but one, the Mio even uses extra RDS information from FM stations to warn of road blockages and work out diversions and it can even use your Windows e-mail address book as a source of likely postcodes to strive out towards - that's if you bother to put that much detail in, in the first place! Oh yes, and it even works as a Bluetooth two-way amplifier for hands-free phone use.
No, knowing where I was, where I was going and if I was getting there too fast were enough for me!
£179 was also enough for me.
Personally the RA 6000's navigational abilities are second place for me, since I rarely drive to somewhere I haven't been before.
It was however just TOO tempting to see how good it was, 'out of the box' as it were, it having arrived by post 90 minutes before I set off from west London to South Perrott in Dorset, just south of Crewkerne in Somerset.
Naturally I knew the way, but for the first half hour the damned thing developed this habit of telling me to U-turn.
I realize now that I've 'RTFM'd', i.e. read the (expletive deleted) manual, that it defaults to assuming you want the fastest route, so of course it was telling me to get on the M4 (with J3 just 1.5 miles from my house) so I could swing onto the M25 thence to pick up the M3, when in reality, a diagonal flit to the south west along the first few miles of the A30 along the south side of Heathrow was by far the more direct route. Once I'd re-joined the M25, it took the hint and stopped nagging.
Now that I've set it to 'shortest route', it behaves itself in that respect, although I could still do without being told off by Charlotte Green - why couldn't it have been a slightly more dissolute voice, with a hint of a good spanking for non-compliance? Mariella Frostrup or Bette Midler, for example.
Not being the smoothest trip I ever did, it took me 45 minutes to get onto the M3, with RA 6000 constantly reminding me that there was 'only' another 900 yards to go, before the turn .. and then 800 .and 700 ..
In the end, you find yourself talking back to it - 'Yes, I KNOW I'm taking the next exit - it's just that getting there TONIGHT would be nice!'
After this, all went smoothly, and it transpires that I could have trusted it to get me there, right to the door of a very dear friend in a tiny Dorset village. How does it do that? By using the entire postcode, not just the first 5 or 6 digits like some satnavs. This is a pojnt worth looking out for in any trawl of satnavs.
There does seem to be some cause for concern over nomenclature though. Whenever the A303 dwindled from dual- to single-carriageway, it warned of 'leaving motorway', which is OK once you 'get with the programme', as they say.
With hindsight, it's definitely a mistake to use something as complex as this straight from the box, although warnings of impending speed cameras worked fine. A male voice this time, you get a green headline on top of the usual map, and a red one if you're going too fast. You can also switch to camera-monitoring alone which presents an entire screen given over to an 'alternative speedometer' until a camera looms. One thing this has shown me is that my own speedometer is pretty accurate or at least it agrees with the satnav precisely - no more assuming that I can go a 'few over' for me! The only difference is that the satnav takes a while to recalculate alterations in speed but once it settles down there's a one-for-one accord with what my dashboard tells me, damn it!.
The Road Angel database includes all manner of speed cameras including those crafty ones that read your number plate twice over a fixed distance and plot your average speed in between. It even includes likely locations for mobile 'safety partnership' vans and warns of accident black-spots. Unlike the 'Snooper' devices that warn whenever a policeman has a laser fix on you, knowing where danger zones are is entirely legal, nay even desirable.
It does not warn of 'red-light' cameras, and I'd be disgusted if it did - after all, you shouldn't be given the impression that it's OK to jump lights as long as you don't get photographed. Other alert areas you can chose to be told about include school zones, congestion charging zones and accident black-spots, many of which, curiously don't have a safety camera (what a surprise).
There are facilities to add your own reminders, and even to upload new uncharted cameras to the database.
As I've implied, to get the best out of it requires a bit of thought; take road preferences for example. Selecting 'shortest route' won't take you to the nearest motorway every time, whereas, 'fastest route' no doubt will. This differs from the MS Autoroute Express method, where you express percentage preferences for road types. Telling it you're a cyclist or even a walker will bias it in completely another direction - yes it's dinky enough to use on the hoof, and there's up to 8 hours battery life to prove it. (Well, with the back-light dimmed or even turned off there is). You can however pause it for the bits you know, saving battery considerably, although after a maximum of 32 hours, expect it to be dead anyway. If you pause it for more than 500 km, it also throws a wobbly when it wakes up, although you're not very likely to do this.
Presumably, if you tell it to avoid tolls and ferries this rather rules out going to The Isles Of Wight and Skye at all.
Likewise to get the best out of it, you need good reception, and an external antenna ensures this more or less when mounted in a car. I've only noticed it get 'quirky' when starved of its improved feed, and once it's down below its bare minimum of 3 or 4 satellites in reception quality all hell breaks loose. It tells you you're rotating on the spot, or doing 30 mph when you're not - it doesn't mind telling walkers this either, although once out in the open, it behaves itself again!
Walkers and cyclist who go completely 'off road' can't expect too much help, unless they zoom out to show which roads surround them. You do still get accurate grid co-ordinates by which to plot your position on a map (or sea chart - but then, boy, are YOU ever lost!), and it can still be used to point you to home.
This version only covers the U.K., so don't stray out of our waters. Like an ancient mariner, you'll fall off the edge. Extra SD-chip based maps are availible.
Apart from the device itself and all its siting options, you'll need a Windows PC to register the device at the www.blackspot.com website. Mac users are left out completely.
This does two things - firstly it starts the timer on your one-year warranty, and also on the first 6-month's worth of free 'camera updates'. Curiously, this costs £3.99 in subsequent months, or £49 per annum (?), which is a bit like one of those 'stand on a milk-crate till a copper comes' sales pitches I once heard. 'Thirty P, yer lighters or three fer a pahnd'. I'd advise the monthly option even if it wasn't cheaper. Bear in mind that an annual subscription only starts in 6 month's time, when the warranty is already half played out - suppose that the thing packs up just outside its warranty period; do you seriously think you'll get a rebate of you subs?
Secondly it points you in the direction of the software you'll need, when updating the camera database.
As this (and many other satnavs), is based on a PDA, for its sins, it runs the Windows CE operating system in the background. This involves installing MS ActivSync, designed to 'speak' to PDAs via a USB link, and send address book data and the like to-and-fro.
Then you install the actual Blackspot software which enables camera updates. Regular travelers are advised to run this once a fortnight.
If you only want it to show you where you are, rather than track a route, you have to dive two layers deep into the menu system otherwise four menu 'buttons' take up 20% of the screen on the left*. It doesn't help that the RA 6000 only has a 3.5" (diagonal) screen, in a 4:3 format. Still, if it were to be any bigger, it wouldn't be any use to walkers and cyclists and at least it's not wedge-shaped like TomToms - that really would lead to a 'Mae West moment'. "Mmmmm, is that a piece of Edam/TomTom in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?"
(*Apparently, I've been led into buying a 'version 1', (ah so that's why it was 60 quid cheaper than elsewhere!) whilst version 2 addresses this issue with daintier on-screen buttons.)
The 12-volt adapter does not plug directly into the satnav, but into the mounting bracket. Mains-charging is done via a mini-USB plug. Why they couldn't have standardised on this is beyond me. It more or less means that is HAS to be mounted when in the car, unless you know you've enough battery charge to last out your journey. Either that or use someone else's charger, e.g. my Motorola phone charger with mini-USB.
There's no way to change the voices, much as the current one is very neutral and well-spoken.
The '3-D' setting doesn't really add much to the detail and makes it even harder to watch when you take a sharp bend and it tries to redraw the perspective. Roller coaster rides come to mind.
I suspect a lot of this is down to its using Windows CE in background, which must be a heavy 'overhead' on resources.
The 'toothpick' stylus, stored at the back is difficult to remove one-handed, especially for nail-biters. Fortunately, touching the screen with a 'version 1.0 Man-Machine-Interface' (i.e. finger) works too.
Leaving the Mobile Camera Van alert switched on is a pain. If you live in a tightly populated area, at sometime, there will probably have been a spotting of one of these just about everywhere for long enough to get it reported to the database. I recently plodded the streets of Hampton Hill looking for a likely parking spot, under the impression that whichever way I turned I was being watched, and not just through curtains either.
This highlights a problem that I identified when I wrote about my 'camera bleeper' previously. It's easy to assume that cameras will only get more numerous (true), but the mechanism for getting non-extant camera sites removed seems less satisfactory. It's quite common to get warned that you're 20 mph over a 50 mph limit that isn't there - probably the result of their actually finishing some long-term motorway road-works. I've even spotted the four bolts where the camera pylon used to be fixed to the ground!
With only a 256 megabyte SD chip for storage, the very idea of using the RA 6000 to store photos and mp3 files is laughable, as would playing the latter back through the coat-button sized speaker.
CONCLUSION - DAMNING WITH FAINT PRAISE
If actual navigation is your first priority, then RA 6000 only just about does it properly and no doubt aficionados will have their own favourites.
It certainly doesn't pay to try it out on routes you know - you'll only get annoyed and shout at 'Charlotte'. Still, at least she's not Harry Enfield - 'You don't wanna go THAT way!!! Yer A316 to Sunbury Cross is MUCH better."
Ironically, RA 6000 seems better at guiding you to fairly local post-codes, more useful say if you're a supply teacher or delivery driver, than it is at finding Dundee from Dover. In fairness, since hitching it to an external aerial and getting to grips with the 'preferences' it's been a lot better. I haven't tried it yet in any of central London's 'canyons' though.
Reading between the lines, most satnavs are like this to a lesser or greater extent and it's probably because the human brain is vastly superior, especially when things go pear-shaped that we notice the glaring glitches. When we are forced to wander off the prescribed route, we don't do U-turns, although maybe sometimes we should. We re-assess, we improvise and go on.
If we're female, we even ask the way.
(Obviously satnav is just a gadget designed by men with men in mind, just to save them the loss of face.)
Its ability to warn you of impending speed cameras is highly valuable and seemingly highly accurate at a reasonable price .
..which is where I came in - with a criminal record, and only another 2 years and 11 months to go.