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Our first taste of Navman's new touch-operated Spirit interface in the S100 didn't entirely fill us with admiration. As much as we like the homage to Apple's iPod touch and iPhone, we didn't find Spirit, aka SmartST 2009, was as friendly as it promised to be. But it's here to stay, and now we have the next Navman device to use it, the current flagship S300 T.
As the T in the name implies, this model integrates traffic alerts. The S300 also comes preloaded with maps covering 22 Western European countries, although Eastern Europe is an optional extra. But the most significant aspects are the Spirit interface and overall physical design. This may be a 4.3in widescreen sat-nav, but it's deceptively thin and weighs just 150g. With its brushed aluminium chassis, the S300 T is a beautiful device, and is about as easy to carry with you as any sat-nav in its class.
Spirit, or Glide Touch as Navman also calls it, is more of an acquired taste, however. Instead of relying on single screen presses, Glide Touch allows you to scroll around menus iPhone style. However, this requires a little more care to use than less adventurous systems. It's quick to operate when you get the hang of it. But those who can't will find the slide-out menus disappearing annoyingly should a finger be misplaced. Fortunately, the basic functions are accessed by pressing the subtle blue line on the bottom right of the device. This calls up an array of coloured squares.
When plotting a new route, you can use the usual street address and postcode methods. But you can also search for a more general area, and also by keyword, both of which can be handy if you can't quite remember an exact address. Employing the area search, you can use the map view to locate a destination visually. The keyword search lets you find a street without even knowing which town it's in - something few other sat-navs can do. The keyword option also scours the Points of Interest, and is in fact the only way you can get to the whole database. Petrol and Parking can be found in the local neighbourhood via dedicated menu options, but these can't be changed in the settings, as you can with Navigon devices.
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