If you've recently bought a new car, there's a good chance it has sat-nav built in. If you own a smart phone, you could easily download an app to do the same job.
Does that mean traditional windscreen-mounted devices have had their day? Absolutely not. As a dedicated nav-gadget, the TomTom Start 60 Europe is better suited to dishing out driving directions than any smart phone could ever be, allowing older cars to share the large screens and simple navigation tools of a modern motor.
The TomTom Start 60 Europe can be bought for around £160.
Build and specs
The screen is 6 inches across, which is the same as a, making it easy to see from the opposite side of the car. That means there's no excuse for not fixing it well out of your direct line of sight to avoid being distracted while driving.
It's easy to read in bright light and it's a blessing for the fat-fingered among you as you'll find the menus and keyboard easy to use. The device is less than an inch thick and the sturdy screen mount -- which can withstand a fair amount of prodding -- is more subtle than the combined sucker/chargers shipped with older units.
It has a built-in accelerometer so it knows which way up it's been fixed and rotates the interface and map as necessary.
Maps and voices
The Start 60 includes detailed maps for 45 European countries, from the biggies you'd expect like the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Greece, down to micro nations including Vatican City, San Marino and Liechtenstein. There's partial coverage of the outlying states -- Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine and so on -- and just connecting roads in Albania, Belarus, Moldova and the countries of the former Yugoslavia (except for Slovenia, which has complete coverage).
Alongside regular road details, there's a wealth of supplementary information that's useful for journey planning and use en route. 'Parking assist' is the one you'll use most often. This lets you navigate straight to the car park that's nearest to your destination or find one when you've already arrived.
There's comprehensive coverage of speed cameras. Although I found that it picked out every one I passed during my tests, it also bleeped warnings about cameras that didn't exist, most likely because other users had reported temporary cameras in those locations that have since been removed.
There are 46 spoken languages built in, although only 14 of these include the option to have street names read out to you. This includes UK and US English, although not with all voices. In UK English, for example, only 'Serena' can read street names. 'Jane' and 'Tim' can only tell you where to turn...
Planning a route
Route planning is ridiculously easy. You can choose from fastest or shortest routes (with a caveat that 'shortest' routes might actually take a lot longer to complete). Alternatively, opt for the most ecologically sound option, which is a very green way of rebranding the 'cheapest' route option that's featured in such software for the last couple of decades.
If you're not using a car, you can set a walking route, which avoids motorways and ignores traffic restrictions, or a bicycle route, which still keeps you off the motorways but obeys restrictions.