Sony was late to the GPS market, but is finally bringing its trademark style to satellite navigation, with the slimline, widescreen Nav-U NV-U92. This in-car unit promises simple pan-European guidance, real-time traffic updates and a hybrid navigation system that copes with urban canyons. It's available now for around £300, with the UK and Ireland-only NV-U82 version around £50 cheaper.
If there's one technology that Sony has mastered, it's the LCD display, and the U92 comes with one of the widest, sharpest and most colourful screens we've seen on a sat-nav. The 122mm (4.8-inch) screen is visible from across the largest dashboard, and even (admittedly sharp-sighted) back-seat passengers might be able to follow the clear 2D or 3D maps.
Route display is as smooth and clear as a TomTom, with sensible colour-coding of roads. Icons are kept to a sensible minimum: you can adjust sound, pull up menus and navigate to the nearest petrol stations at the stab of a finger.
The Sony's skinny housing (it's just 20mm thick) has some clever touches. At the back, a pop-out GPS antenna doubles as a dashboard rest, if you haven't got round to fitting the lovely 'soft gel' windscreen mount. This is designed to be speedily removable, without leaving tell-tale marks to lure thieves.
The speaker sounded a touch resonant to begin with, but soon settled down to deliver clear and timely Radio 4-esque female diction. The U92 also speaks destination road names out loud at junctions -- a real help compared to older sat-navs.
The provision of European maps covering 21 countries in the U92 should suffice for all but the most adventurous drivers (the cheaper U82 covers just the UK and Ireland).