A personal satellite navigation device is not an expensive proposition these days, with entry-level options available for under £100. But if you already own a capable smartphone with built-in GPS, don't need route guidance that often, or can't be bothered with yet another gadget, adding some software to your phone could make a more cost-effective and convenient alternative. Navigon has a potential contender in the shape of its MobileNavigator 7.
The app is available for Symbian S60 3rd Edition, or Windows Mobile 5, 6 and 6.1. Prices range from £59.99 with maps for a single country to £89.99 for the whole of Europe. These are all available for download from Navigon's website, and you can even try the software for 30 days before purchase. We put the Windows Mobile version with maps for ‘British Isles' through its paces. This includes the UK and Republic of Ireland, although we're not sure residents of the latter would be too pleased to be labelled British.
Installation requires a desktop PC. You can either pop out your smartphone's memory card, or switch the phone from ActiveSync to storage-only mode so it shows up as a removable drive. Loading the Navigon PC software then sets up the application installer on your storage, after which you can copy across the maps. However, the app isn't actually installed on your smartphone yet. For this, you need to pop the memory card back in the phone, or switch it back out of storage-only mode. The app will then be installed automatically after which it will be available for use.
When you first load the MobileNavigator app, you're led through choosing language, time display and distance formats. You will also need to activate the software if you bought it or start your trial. The trial version requires a working Internet connection each time the software is started, to check with Navigon's servers how many of the 30 days you have left. You are then faced with a similar screen to a standalone Navigon sat-nav device. The initial options include browsing the map, typing in a new location, an aggregation of saved addresses called My Destinations, or Services.
When entering an address, Navigon has switched from the tabbed interface of its standalone devices to a list-based approach, but the process is essentially the same. You either enter a full postcode, or drill down from city, to street, to house number. Annoyingly, you can't enter a house number with a postcode, which could be a problem if the latter refers to a long street, particularly if it's one-way.