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There's not a lot that dedicated sat-nav manufacturers like TomTom can do when mobile phones left right and centre are slowly but surely pulling the rug from beneath their feet. All they can do, like that one quality butcher refusing to be bullied closed by the local hypermarket, is to hang on in there and hope consumers back quality over quantity. But the outlook is grim - and Sony's recent withdrawal from the market just compounds this.
At least there's more hope for companies like Magellan. It has been producing GPS devices, like quality sausages, to its own special recipe for years now, and the loss of a bit of in-car business won't hurt it as much as is likely to hurt specialists. But despite the pedigree, it's clear from its latest product - the RoadMate 1215 - that it still hasn't quite got the road going sat-nav in the same way that TomTom has.
It's a decidedly dated-look product: the map display is basic and pretty ugly to look at in its green, white and yellow colourings. And it's afflicted with a host of other little annoyances too. The map display, for instance, is slow and sluggish to update and seems to lag behind your on-the-road position, which could prove a bit of a problem in tight urban environments.
The multipoint trip planning feature, bizarrely, isn't automatic: it won't direct you to the next waypoint on your itinerary until you poke an on-screen button. If you want to browse the map and select a waypoint on it while in trip planning mode, you can't zoom right out for a whole country view unless you go to the settings first, and put the device into 2D map mode.
To choose a European destination while in the UK, you also have to visit the settings screen and change regions there - you can't do it in the address entry screen. And, in addition to all this you can't change the annoying American woman speaking to you. The list continues: the windscreen mount supplied with the 1215 doesn't work very well either, unless you don't mind cleaning the suction cup and glass meticulously every time you attach it. And there are few luxuries here: no Bluetooth for hands free phone operation, no traffic information, no FM transmitter or music player.
But, like that stick in the mud tradesman, who doesn't like his fancy extras, preferring to wrap his prime rib steak in brown paper instead of a plastic bag, the key strengths of this sat-nav eventually shine through.
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