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. Its simple to set up, the menu is intuitive and the maps are easier to follow than those of any other brand of sat-nav weve tested particularly in built-up areas.
There are lots of powerful features designed to make your life easier, too, including one years subscription to TomToms Live Services. These give you comprehensive traffic updates and a function that searches for the cheapest fuel in the area. Theyve 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, itll cost you 47.50 each year. If you dont, youll 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 dont 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 cant pair the XL with your mobile phone using Bluetooth a feature thats 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 dont plan to drive abroad, go for the Regional version (which covers just the UK and Ireland) and youll 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 nLink 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, doesnt it? The downside is the link costs 45 a year to maintain, and unlike TomToms Live Services scheme you dont get a years 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 cars 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 youre driving in, and the map remains easy to follow. The Motonav can even send pre-composed text messages, such as Im driving, will call you back if you are on the move. Shame about the dull display.
125-200 also rans
Navigon 40 Easy EU 23
Price 139.99 (Navigon.com)
For Clear mapping; solid windscreen mount
Against Not as user-friendly as rivals
The Navigon impresses with its classy, detailed maps and rock-solid windscreen mount. If only the menu system was a bit more user-friendly. Although the 40 Easy is one of the cheapest units in this budget, it doesnt offer the real-time services of the TomTom and the Garmin.
Mio Navigon 575
Price 139.99 (Play.com)
For Biggest screen in this budget; lots of features
Against Wobbly windscreen mount; dim screen
Your 140 gets you a whopping 4.7-inch widescreen, European maps and traffic updates. Sounds like a bargain, doesnt it? It would be if the Mio had a brighter screen and its windscreen mount wasnt so flimsy. Overall, the 575 is a decent sat-nav, but not polished enough to trouble the best.
Vexia Econav 480 Europe
Price 199 (Amazon.co.uk)
For Nifty fuel saving tricks
Against So-so navigation; pricey; misses out on key features
This sat-nav wont only tell you how to get where youre going, itll help you save fuel in the process. Enter some details about your car, and it will alert you when to change gear for optimum fuel efficiency. Shame its so expensive and misses out on some important features, such as Bluetooth.