There's A Distinct Shift To Garmin This Year...
It's that time of year when many in car Satellite Navigation devices can be had for a right bargain. We're well past Christmas and the market is slowing down, so many retailers are chopping prices to shift stock, so it could be the perfect time to buy, so it's time for a review of what is out there so you don't end up with a dud.
Let's start of with a review of the main players. Despite the huge sales opportunities on offer, the market leaders remain TomTom, Garmin and Navman. Other electrical suppliers keep trying to get their feet in the door, but most of their efforts have been a little disappointing and not worth the extra money for a premium brand. Garmin have been coming on strong with some great new devices like the Nuvi 200 and streetpilot 550, while TomTom is the market leader with its One Regional / GB. Navman's Navpix idea hasn't really taken off, and I guess their next generation of devices will have to include Bluetooth built in if they want to stay with the leading contenders.
So, in 2007, which Sat Nav should you be looking at? Let's start with the entry level models which come with maps for the country where you bought it.
Leading the price war at the moment is the Navman F20, available for under £130 in the right shops. Featuring full Post-Code look-up, preinstalled Speed Camera database, 3d maps and voice instructions, it is still a good buy if your budget is tight. A slow processor makes entering destinations a longer task than the others, but it will get you there and won't break the bank.
Spend a little more and you could get a TomTom One GB, which can be had for around £150. A fantastic unit and the best selling Sat Nav in the UK , with all the features you'd expect, go to our Tom Tom Sat Nav section for the full low-down. The only blot on the TomTom Ones record could be the accuracy of its maps - personal experience has taught me that addresses that are missing from the One are often included in the equivalent Garmin - so if you're a professional user you may want to consider a different unit.
Garmin have waded into the entry level market with their Nuvi 200. In a new slim line case the Nuvi 200 really impresses, Garmins famed accurate maps paired with a no-fills efficient navigator. 3d maps, voice instruction and auto re-routing are here, along with an mp3 player, but little else to distract from a very easy to use and small Sat Nav.
When we step up to Satellite Navigation Devices that can take you across Europe, there have been some welcome additions at the budget end of the market, where you can now get a Pan-European Navigator for under £200. First up to consider is the TomTom One Europe, a superb unit that is extremely easy to use. For the same price you could have a Garmin Nuvi 250, or a Navman F20 Europe. All these devices are purely for Sat Nav, no Bluetooth hands-free here, but all are competent at what they do. Which is best? I guess I would lean towards the TomTom One Europe or Garmin 250.
Step up another price point and we're into the realm of Sat Navs that can do so much more. I'm going to stick out my neck and say that it looks like the Garmin StreetPilot 550 will be the device to beat. With Bluetooth hands-free calling, stereo speakers, pre-installed maps of Europe, mp3 player, travel & language guides, and some superb reviews, it looks like Garmin will be beating the likes of the TomTom 710 and Navman N60.
Top of the range next, and it looks like a straight battle between the TomTom 910 and Garmin Nuvi 660FM. The 910 has been around awhile, and is competent enough, with the exclusive addition of European and North American Maps, still not offered by other manufacturers. What is very exciting about the Garmin 660fm is the addition of an FM modulator, which means that all your voice instructions and hands-free calls come through your cars speakers. This is great enough, but finally the built in mp3 players can be used properly, giving rich stereo sound at good volume levels through your car stereo.
Phew! So there we go, a quick review of the most popular Sat Navs of 2007. In conclusion I would recommend the Garmin 200 for entry level, the Garmin 550 for European Navigation, or the Nuvi 660fm for a top of the range unit.
I think that we'll be seeing TomTom respond to these great new Garmin units, so watch this site for updates!
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