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Route 66 Mini Regional Sat-Nav review

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Route 66 Mini Regional Sat-Nav

Summary

Our Score:

8

In these gadget-crazy times, it's often not enough for a manufacturer to produce the ultimate product at the cheapest price. Competition is so fierce that today's gizmos must look good and slip into your pocket comfortably if they're to force their heads above the increasingly vicious riptide of new products.

Once upon a time, for instance, I would gladly give over space in my bag or endure a great lump in my jacket pocket for a dedicated GPS device, such was its unique appeal. But now? I usually prefer to go with CoPilot and the built-in GPS receiver in my phone rather than lug an extra device around, despite the fact that a dedicated device with a larger screen is normally a bit more convenient to use in the car.

Route 66's latest sat-nav - the Mini - has at least made me think twice about that choice. That's because it's one of the smallest, most pocketable sat-navs around. Although it has a large 320 x 240 resolution 3.5in touch screen, its compact dimensions of 95 x 81 x 19.5mm and light weight of 149g makes it easy to slip into a jacket pocket when you leave the car parked. The Mini is also a pretty good-looking product - at least as far as sat-navs go. Its faux aluminium frontage and embossed Route 66 logo are smart and it feels extremely solidly built with thick, sturdy plastic casing all over.

It's not just the physical design of the Mini that appeals, though - it's also an extremely easy device to use. In fact I'd go so far as to say that it's more intuitive than TomTom's excellent Go 520 and 720 devices, and that's not something that trips off the tongue lightly. This is in part down to the Mini's large, clearly labelled icons and logical interface organisation: most of the important options - address search, trip management, volume control and so on - are all a couple of quick clicks away.

Alan 1

July 1, 2008, 3:12 pm

Having read good reviews about this satnav, and Halfords had reduced the price to 㿻.99, I got one. While I agree with Jonathan's review, there are a few problem areas which I need to mention. First, to get the speed camera database and do any updating, you need to connect the satnav to a Windows PC (so no good for Mac or Linux users). Not only that, you need to download and install Microsoft ActiveSync (if you run XP) or Microsoft Mobile Device Centre (if you run Vista). Second, the version of Route66 sync provided on the CD doesn't work. You have to download the latest copy from the Route66 website (www.route66.nl) and install that. Having done that, you can easily install the speed camera database on the satnav (and extra voices, colour schemes, etc.). Then you hit problem number 3. From time to time the GPS software seems to get confused as to where you really are. Not to worry, there is a GPS firmware update on the Route66 Website which you can download to your PC then install onto the satnav. Trouble is, you need an SD card slot on your PC to do this. The good news is that having upgraded the GPS firmware, it is better but can be slower when getting your position after switch on. Then comes problem number 4. When you are out and about, the unit is great until you pass a speed camera. The speed camera alert pops up and after that, there are no more voice commands until you reset the satnav (using the factory reset button), or the software crashes and the satnav reboots itself. Not much fun halfway through your journey. The good news is, there is an update on the Route66 website which you can (in theory) install. However, my attempts to do this have resulted in the install process stoping after 20% and I have had to do the factory reset to reboot the satnav. If I do get the update installed to fix the speed camera/no voice/crash problem, I am hoping there isn't a problem 5!





In summary, A nice cheap satnav and if you are happy with it out of the box with no speed camera database (and the odd GPS hiccup), great. If you want speed cameras you are going to have to hook the satnav up to the internet via a windows PC to get all the updates.

Alan 1

July 2, 2008, 2:29 pm

Update: On the third attempt, the satnav managed to update the Route66 software and the best way to do it is to factory reset the satnav (so you have a fresh reboot), connect it to the PC, then do the update immediately. It does take a while so be patient.





The update does fix the speed camera/no voice/crash problem and the new software matches the user manual more closely. I did wonder why some of the items mentioned in the user manual were missing. I have done a couple of test trips and it is working fine. It looks like the speed camera database is valid for a year and it will cost 9.95 EUR to renew which isn't too bad.





Having gone through the update process, I am pleased with the unit. However, not everyone will be PC literate enough to do the same. On the plus side, not only is this now down to 㿻.99 at Halfords, the widescreen version (Route 66 Maxi) is down to 䀏.99.



routegodknowswhere

February 9, 2009, 6:01 pm

My route 66 mini really is awful, it resets itself mid journey, constantly tells me to re load the software becuase strings go missing, and freezes up. This is all after the firmware/software updates.





The route 66 support must have gone to the same customer services school as BT and i might as well tell my dog about how or why it doesnt work. Now its stuck with no maps so i can only use it to navigate my way to London or Southampton, ive taken it back to the shop and got a new one god knows how many times, each time i have to have a fight with route 66 support just to get the cameras i paid for put on to the new device.





You really do get what you pay for with this, mine is about to navigate its way out of the car window.



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