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If I ask you to think of companies making sat-nav equipment I doubt you’d offer the RAC. Odd, that, considering it is a motoring organisation with a vast membership and has been offering door to door route planning from its http://www.rac.co.uk/ Web site} for ages.
Then again, maybe it isn’t so odd, because the RAC’s new range of three sat-nav devices is its first real foray into this area. Yes, there was a single device launched last year, but it was more of a quiet toe in the water than a big launch.
So, I said there were three devices launched recently. Needless to say I got my hands on the top of the range model, but you can see info about the other two here.
I always say that a good sat-nav device is one which does not require you to look at its screen. The spoken instructions should be good enough to get you across junctions and through the traffic all of the time. It is a simple matter of driver safety that anything which means you take your eyes off the road ahead is not a good thing.
Still, if you do need to look at your sat-nav screen it has to be clear. There’s no problem in that department here. The RAC sat-nav 220 has a screen measuring a massive 5in corner to corner. It is wide format, and the actual dimensions are 110mm wide and 62mm tall.
A column down the right hand edge of the screen delivers information like distance to the next turn, direction of the next turn, distance to destination, estimated arrival time and so on. But the bulk of the screen area is given over to the map display.
The RAC has tweaked its core software, provided by Route66, to deliver a few interesting and user friendly goodies for those times when you do look at the screen. During motorway driving I noticed that junction numbers are overlaid onto the map, and that when taking an exit a box appears on screen showing a close representation of the physical road sign. If sat-nav systems are meant to reassure drivers about following the suggested route, then these are great examples of how to do that.
Of course the big screen makes for chunky kit, and the overall size is not helped by the column of buttons that sit down the left hand side of the screen. You are going to need a big pocket to carry the 148 x 85 x 35mm (WxHxD) device, and the 520g of weight is off putting too. Maybe rather than carry it around you’ll need to stow this sat-nav safely in the glove compartment when it is not in use.