Street smart so­lu­tion

Sat­navs do a lot more than a map does, writes PETER FAMI­LARI

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

SAT­NAV sys­tems are fast-tracking the hum­ble street di­rec­tory to­wards the his­tory books. When the map­ping is ac­cu­rate and it’s used with com­mon sense, es­pe­cially in an un­fa­mil­iar city or coun­try, a sat­nav strapped to the wind­screen can save you from all sorts of dra­mas.

But even with the best map­ping there is po­ten­tial for GPS sys­tems to go pear-shaped.

If you be­lieve what you hear, you’ll like the story about the bloke who ig­nored the road signs and fol­lowed his sat­nav into (a) a river (b) a brick wall or (c) to the edge of a cliff.

So, how do some of the most pop­u­lar units sold in Aus­tralia rate?

Pi­o­neer’s $1199 AVIC-F310BT gets a big thumbs up.

I used it hap­pily for a cou­ple of weeks, pro­gram­ming a few dozen routes for a va­ri­ety of trips, and there were no glitches.

The new unit has dou­bled in size to fit the over­sized sound-sys­tem holes in the lat­est dash­boards. It’s built like a Rolex watch and loaded with fea­tures you’ll re­ally want to use.

As well as of­fer­ing crys­tal-clear and — to now — ac­cu­rate route guid­ance, the new Pi­o­neer is a com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mu­sic cen­tre. It’s fit­ted with a 4.3-inch touch­screen, has Blue­tooth for hands-free mo­bile phone calls, a CD player and a built-in au­dio­phile-qual­ity four-chan­nel Mos­fet am­pli­fier that’s rated at 50 watts a chan­nel.

A PC ap­pli­ca­tion can down­load lo­cal in­for­ma­tion and con­tacts from your PC di­rectly to the unit and a text-to-speech voice guid­ance gives driv­ers ver­bal prompts and spe­cific street names.

Here’s the clincher: Pi­o­neer pointy-heads have come up with a de­tach­able screen to de­ter thieves. So you can eas­ily de­tach the head unit and take it with you.

In­stal­la­tion in most cars is straight­for­ward, takes about an hour and shouldn’t cost more than $150.

TomTom, Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar por­ta­ble sat­nav brand, has un­veiled two new mod­els. They are the nicely priced $349 One 140 and the $449 XL340.

Each has a fea­ture called Ad­vance Lane Guid­ance that shows which lane to move into at busy junc­tions.

And each has the TomTom IQ Routes mode, which works out the fastest route by cal­cu­lat­ing ac­tual speeds recorded on real roads.

The One 140 is an en­try-level model with a 3.5-inch touch­screen, text-to-speech voice guid­ance and 2GB of on­board stor­age, but no SD or Mi­croSD card slot.

The dearer XL340 has a 4.3-inch touch­screen, the same amount of stor­age and safety cam­era alerts, and crunches data faster.

When it comes to other in-car tech­nol­ogy, BlueAnt’s speaker-phones are the ones to beat.

The S1 is a $109 model that uses Blue­tooth, at­taches to a sun vi­sor and lets you use your mo­bile phone safely while driv­ing.

An­swer­ing a call is as easy as say­ing the word ‘‘An­swer’’. And you can make calls us­ing your voice as well. The S1 con­nects wire­lessly to two phones and of­fers up to 15 hours of talk time and 800 hours of standby.

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