It’s because, in most respects, the v200 just isn’t as good as the competition. Take the audio instructions. In an ideal world, you could turn off the screen and rely entirely on the dulcet tones of your friend in the sat-nav box. And you could probably get away with doing that on a TomTom, especially with the company’s high-end models, which now have text-to-speech and read out the road names to you. If you tried to do that with this Acer, however, you’d get lost – fast.
There are three problems. First is that the audio often seems to lag behind the action by a few seconds. Second, turnings that are close together are not linked, which means if you have to go left, then immediately right, you won’t know until you’ve got in the wrong lane, hit the accelerator and missed your turning. The TomTom One XL would tell you well in advance of the first turning to go left, then take the first right, not wait until you’d gone wrong already. The third problem with the audio is that it frequently doesn’t match up with the turning in real life. On a junction near Enfield it told me to go left, when the route on screen was clearly straight ahead. While driving north up the six-lane A1 in north London, it told me to make a U-turn..?
On screen, the graphics marking out the route aren’t as clear as they might be either. Turns are highlighted in red, but the arrows are quite skinny, making it difficult to make them out as you glance quickly at the screen. And though the v200 provides the facility to ban certain roads, there’s no ‘avoid roadblock’ or ‘route around the next 3km’ option as there is with the Mio, Garmin and TomTom sat-navs I’ve seen recently.
As for the rest of the interface, it varies from crowded to confusing. It’s crowded because the mapping screen is overburdened with information panels that are too large for the screen, reducing your view of the virtual road. It’s confusing because some commonly-used menu items – the free map browsing mode, for example – are hidden several clicks away from the mapping screen.