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Top-of-the-Range Sat Nav Shoot-Out 2006 - Which Is The Best of the Best?

Garmin nuvi 660 vs TomTom Go 910 vs Navman n60i

Top of The Range Sat Nav Show-DownTop of the range in car transferable Satellite Navigation comes at a hefty cost - these units are in the range of £400 each - so for this price you want an excellent navigation system with some truly ground breaking extras. Let's see what these three units have to offer.

First up is the Navman n60i. We've got Western European Street level mapping, touch wide-screen, 3d maps, voice instructions which will actually try to read out road names, quick-nav buttons, etc. As far as navigating goes, the n60i truly delivers. It's fast, easy to use, the speaker is a little quiet, but it does the job well. Now what about those extras? The Navman n60i has pre-installed Safety Camera POI's, which is nice, but the thing that makes it stand out from the crowd is the it has a built in camera. Navpix could revolutionise the way we use Sat Nav. Instead of typing in boring Post Codes & Addresses, just pick a picture of where you want to go, select it, and you're off. Find somewhere interesting that you might want to visit later of to share with others? Park up, take a picture & the device will automatically store the GPS position as well. If you visit Navman's Navpix library, there are thousands of "libraries" of images to download. Landmarks in London, places to visit in Paris, etc. It really is a fun addition to Sat Nav, and I hope it catches on. The downside is that the Navman doesn't come with Bluetooth, so it can't act as a hands-free kit in your car, so I guess the N60 is firmly aimed at the home or tourist user, not the business one. It's a shame, because with Bluetooth the N60i could have been a real world-beater.

Next up is the TomTom Go 910. More than just a 710 with maps of North America and Europe, the 910 uses a 20gb internal hard-drive, so it can store thousands of mp3 tracks, pictures and audio books. It has a built in Bluetooth hands-free kit for compatible mobile phones, will attempt to read out road names to you, and has all the usual great TomTom features. Easy to use, wide, bright screen. Auto re-routing, preinstalled Safety Camera database, thousands of POI's. You would not be unhappy if you bought a 910. The voice guidance ids so smooth that it really does sound like a real person, even if it does get the pronunciation of some roads wrong. A great GPS Sat Nav.

With the Garmin 660 we almost have the perfect Sat Nav. For the first time we have a wide screen that really makes use of it, unlike the Tomtom's which has a large border along the bottom. The screen is incredibly crisp, bright and glare free. Comparing the screen of a Garmin 660 and a TomTom Go, the difference is considerable, the Garmin being much, much better. This unit is also very slim line, with a pop-up GPS aerial on the back, so it would easily fit into your shirt pocket. Hands-free Bluetooth, free TMC aerial for free traffic alerts, pre-installed Speed Camera POI's, maps that include Eastern Europe as well as Western Europe, mp3 player, travel guide, the list goes on. The only thing that lets the nuvi 660 down is the voice. Listen to it by itself and it's ok. Compare it with a TomTom and you can hear the difference. The male voice is ok, but the female appalling. What a shame! That's not to say that spoils the unit, but I have had several people comment the they loved the screen and maps of the 660, but had second thoughts when they heard the voice, and that they preferred the voices that TomTom use. If Garmin had spent a few more weeks perfecting their voices, the Nuvi 660 would have been a complete TomTom beater, but as it is you'll have to hear one and make up your own mind.

Down to business. Which is the best of the best?

If you want a Sat Nav for fly-drive holidays to the USA and Canada, then the 910 is a great buy, as those maps are already preinstalled. But you know what? I think I can live with the Garmin's slightly odd voice, and I think it with the included TMC (Congestion avoidance) aerial, compact size & superb screen, I'm going to award The Garmin nuvi 660 the title of "Best of the Best".


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