Best GPS features of 2008

With the fat man about to descend down the chimney and spread Kevin07's love everywhere, it's time to choose the best features in the world of GPS from 2008.

With the fat man about to descend down the chimney and spread Kevin07's love everywhere, it's time to choose the year's best new features in the realm of GPS.

As far as portable GPS units go, 2007 was most memorable for falling prices and slimming form factors with little in the way of new and wonderful features. In 2008, prices continued to fall while feature content went in the other direction. Thankfully, then, this year there's also been plenty for us to report on — such as Navteq's maps finally showing up on portable sat navs — as well as plenty of new features and fun things for us to play with. So without further ado, let the awarding begin.

Best new feautre: Map Share
Like every other feature we've nominated here, the winner, TomTom's Map Share, has been available overseas for at least a year already. Map Share, which is available on the fourth-gen One, second-gen XL, Go 730 and Go 930, allows users to make map corrections for things like speed limits, one way/two streets, blocked roads and turn restrictions. Given the ever-changing nature of our roads, not to mention the errors present in any set of maps, this in itself would have qualified Map Share for at least a podium finish.

However, as its name suggests, these corrections can be shared with the TomTom user community. Corrections can be downloaded whenever you hook a TomTom up with your PC or Mac and use the supplied TomTom Home software. To prevent downloading erroneous "corrections", you can elect to download only those verified by TomTom's squad of fact checkers or only those uploaded by multiple people.

Runner-up new feature: Lane guidance/junction view
Lane guidance and junction view finally made their way down under this year. Included in mid- to high-end units — think RRPs of about AU$450 and above — lane guidance does just that, it tells you which lanes you can use at the next turn. On most devices lane guidance is limited to big intersections and motorway on- and off-ramps; however, the TomTom Go 730 and 930 have lane guidance on most roads and streets — in Sydney at least. Junction view, usually bundled with lane guidance, replaces the regular map screen with a graphic of the next junction or exit with signs and usable lanes.

Honourable mention: Traffic messaging
It's far from perfect, as we noted in our traffic messaging FAQ traffic delays can sometimes take a while to show up on the system and then don't expire until well after the incident has cleared. Also it's currently only available in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane at present, with Perth, Adelaide and Canberra due sometime in 2009.

Nonetheless if your work or lifestyle requires you to do a lot of kays during either working or commuting hours then having a traffic-enabled GPS is still very handy. Not only can you be informed of, and be routed around, delays as they occur, but you can also look up traffic incidents along and around your route before heading off.

Most disappointing release: Navman S300t
Like Derek Zoolander Navman's S300t is "really, really, ridiculously good looking" but, as the male model of the century discovered, there is more to life than just that. We eagerly anticipated the arrival of our review model but unfortunately, upon closer inspection, it fell short of the greatness we were hoping for. The iPhone-inspired interface is finicky and frustrating to use at times and some of its features — Bluetooth and the FM transmitter, primarily — are buggy. Thankfully, if you're completely besotted by its looks, can live with the interface quirks and don't need traffic messaging, you can opt for the cheaper S100.

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