Navman My Escape III
Confession: I've got such a terrible sense of direction that it's a miracle I can find my way home at night. I definitely should have been an early adopter of a GPS navigation system, but instead I've struggled away over the years, listening badly to verbal directions, completely misreading maps and catching subway trains in the wrong direction. Last year I borrowed a fancy BMW X3 35d that had an in-built navigation system and it was like the sun came out. I was immediately converted.
Last month I took a Navman My Escape III to the East Cape, where a friend and I were roadtripping by campervan.
This portable unit has an easy-to-use 7-inch touchscreen and plenty of handy features such as voice command, speed limits, driver fatigue alerts, and live traffic information.
There's no need to carefully tap the Navman's screen with a fingernail or stylus to get it to respond - it's as sensitive as a smartphone, which is definitely an improvement on GPS units I've used in the past.
When you tap in an address you get four options for your route - fastest, economical, easiest and shortest - which sometimes, of course, are all the same.
A handy panel down the right of the display tells you progress stats including distance to go and time of arrival.
Pop-ups alert you to delays ahead, you can look up where to find the closest petrol station, ATM, accommodation and a selection of food outlets, and a Bluetooth function allows you to connect your smartphone so you can answer calls.
We found it most useful when driving between Whakatane and Rotorua relying entirely on the "fastest" route option. This led us down all manner of quiet country roads along state highways 2, 34 and 30, but got us there much quicker than if we'd bumbled along the main roads ourselves.
There is also a setting for pedestrian navigation, though the device is quite hefty - like an thick, heavy tablet - so I can't imagine lugging it around in my handbag.
For my purposes I wasn't sure it needed to be quite so big, and I would definitely think twice about taking it overseas.
It's ideal for a big vehicle, but although the window suction attachment is really handy, the windscreen itself was quite far away for pushing and prodding. We found it easier for the passenger to hold onto the device while it was in operation.
One thing's for sure, with one of these in the car, I've got no excuse for ever getting lost again.