TomTom XL Live Europe
For Brilliantly simple to use; useful Live services; great value for money
Against No Bluetooth connectivity
This is all the sat-nav that most drivers will ever need. It’s simple to set up, the menu is intuitive and the maps are easier to follow than those of any other brand of sat-nav we’ve tested – particularly in built-up areas.
There are lots of powerful features designed to make your life easier, too, including one year’s subscription to TomTom’s Live Services. These give you comprehensive traffic updates and a function that searches for the cheapest fuel in the area. They’ve been available on TomTom sat-navs for a couple of years, but getting them meant forking out £8 per month until recently.
If you find the services useful and want to keep them after the free 12 months, it’ll cost you £47.50 each year. If you don’t, you’ll still have a very capable sat-nav.
The XL also comes with a clever integrated cradle, called Easyport, which folds against the back of the device when you don’t need to use it. The bright 4.3-inch screen and clear spoken instruction are also strong points.
Our only real criticism is that you can’t pair the XL with your mobile phone using Bluetooth – a feature that’s included on some other, similarly priced units, and allows you to make handsfree calls.
We tested the Europe version of the XL Live, which comes pre-loaded with maps of 30 countries. If you don’t plan to drive abroad, go for the Regional version (which covers just the UK and Ireland) and you’ll save £15.
Garmin Nuvi 1690
Price £172.50 (Amazon.co.uk)
For Constant link with Garmin;
easy to use
Against Real-time services cost extra
The Nuvi 1690 has a constant link with Garmin HQ – called nüLink – which can provide you with up-to-the-minute traffic information, tell you where to find the cheapest fuel or even search for a hotel or supermarket using Google. Sounds great, doesn’t it? The downside is the link costs £45 a year to maintain, and unlike TomTom’s Live Services scheme you don’t get a year’s free subscription up front.
The 1690 is an effective navigator, and is simple to use. However, the winning TomTom XL offers clearer maps and costs less to buy when you factor in the free Live Services.
Motorola Motonav TN555
For Plenty of features; can be wired into car’s stereo
Against Pricey; dull display
Motorola may be best known for its mobile phones, but its first foray into the world of car navigation is a successful one. The display is packed with information about your route or the area you’re driving in, and the map remains easy to follow. The Motonav can even send pre-composed text messages, such as ‘I’m driving, will call you back’ if you are on the move. Shame about the dull display.