There are two types of company selling sat-nav systems today. Those you probably know best are the specialists: it's the only thing they do, and they tend to do it well. I'm thinking of companies such as Mio, TomTom and ALK with its CoPilot product.
Then there are the electronics and computer giants who do a little bit of everything - with a bit of GPS on the side. Acer falls into this category along with Sony, Panasonic and a host of others. But despite the fact that big companies often succeed through sheer economies of scale, keeping prices down and features high - at least with sat-navs - is an approach that, so far, is not working. The specialists are still leading the way, with TomTom's Go 720 scooping a coveted place in TrustedReviews' products of the year roundup, and Mio commanding the mid-range.
Can German firm Medion, which sells everything from Windows Home Server boxes to mobile phone ringtones, change that with its latest range of sat-navs? If first impressions of the on-review GoPal E3410 are anything to go by, then I think it could well do.
Based on the £190 price, it's obvious that Medion is targeting the system at the middle of the market - customers who are willing to pay a little extra for luxury features, but don't want to shell out top whack for the ultimate in sat-nav luxury. But there are a few features here that you don't usually find in a mid-range sat-nav.
The first of these is a text-to-speech engine, a feature Medion dubs rather Teutonically, SVOXX. TomTom's Go 520 and 720 will read road names out to you too, and a number of rivals will read major road numbers, but few devices this cheap will do every road. Yes, it does sound like you have a female version of Stephen Hawking in the car with you, but it also means you can spend more time with your eyes on the road rather than figuring out if that last instruction was for the tiny turn-off just in front or the crossroads 10 yards further down the road.
The second is a built-in TMC traffic information receiver. Now I'm yet to be convinced that the UK's subscription-free service is actually any use for avoiding day-to-day congestion, but it does pick up the really big jams and can help you get around them. And devices with built-in TMC usually sell for over £200. Not so here.