Review Price free/subscription
The maps, both in 3D and 2D views, are as nicely rendered as the voice instructions are clear. Particularly good is the turn indicator arrow which, in the 3D view, hovers above the surface of the road and casts a shadow. This sounds a bit gimmicky, but it makes it extremely easy to see which exit on a roundabout you need to take, for example, or where to go at a complicated, multi-exit junction.
Search and routing options are much more impressive than the budget price tag would have you expect, too. There's full postcode search here, and though you're stuck with the two keyboard approach (one for letters, one for numbers), it's not too fiddly and the keys are easy to poke. There are trip management tools here, which allow you to set up routes in advance, and adding start points, stopovers and destinations is about as easy as I've found on any sat-nav, let alone one this cheap.
There are even options to optimise for pedestrian, bicycle and motorbike as well as for the usual shortest and fastest routes by car. You get a safety camera database with six months worth of free updates and roadblock avoidance too, with the option to route around traffic jams and rejoin the route a mile or two further down the road.
It's a remarkable feature set but there is a pretty major problem that seems to be related to the power (or lack of it) under the X350's hood - it just doesn't seem to be up to the job. Initial route calculation, as a result, takes an absolute age for anything other than the most simple of routes. I asked the X350 to take me to Norwich airport from north-east London and I'd finished writing this paragraph before it managed to calculate a route successfully. Even by giving it something simpler to deal with failed to improve matters, with a straightforward 17 mile route to Wimbledon Park in south-west London taking a painful 1min 20secs.
Worse still, complicated routes often confounded the X350 completely. On more than one occasion it simply refused to complete route calculation and informed that it didn't have enough resources. I tried entering addresses in Liverpool, north Wales and the Lake District - all of them failed. The lack of power also means that the Carrera is a little sluggish when browsing the map.
In the Carrera X350, Binatone has made a decent stab at producing a comprehensive sat-nav for not much cash. It's well-featured for a device so cheap and isn't too hard to use. Maps are clear and navigation, once you've set up a route, is good. However, its slow calculation of simple routes and inability to calculate complicated ones effectively render all of this effort useless. After all, what's the point in having a sat-nav that can't get you to Wales or Liverpool from London?
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