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.