Home / Mobile / GPS & Sat Nav / Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System

Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System review



1 of 6

Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System
  • Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System
  • Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System
  • Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System
  • Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System
  • Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System
  • Satmap Active 10 Handheld GPS Map System


Our Score:


It was arguably the recreational GPS that brought sat-nav technology to the mass market, many moons ago. First, yachtsmen saw the appeal of being able to pinpoint their position precisely on a chart, then hikers and outdoors enthusiasts wanted in on the act. But despite the commodity status that GPS technology has now achieved, there's still not an incredibly wide choice of products for hikers and bikers.

Garmin and Magellan have dominated the market for years, and apart from the odd novelty act, there simply haven't been that many others in the mix. Satmap, a small UK startup, is aiming to remedy that situation, however, with its Active 10 - the most innovative handheld GPS device I've come across in years.

If you're a hiker or mountain biker, you'll know that if you take nothing else out on the trail with you, you take an Ordnance Survey map and a compass. These wedges of folded paper describe the paths, roads, boundaries and physical features of the British countryside in incredible detail and that, like a road atlas for a driver, makes them indispensible.

But using them with most outdoor GPS devices is a pain. You have to first read off your grid coordinates from the device and then use those to work out your position on paper. The Satmap Active 10 takes these maps, digitises them, and makes them available on the screen of a rugged PDA. And, just like an in-car sat-nav, the Active 10 displays your position live on a 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 OS map so you know exactly where you are, instantly. If you've ever been lost on a hillside in the fading light, you'll know how valuable this can be.

Of course other devices, from the likes of Garmin and Magellan, do offer topographic mapping on their devices, but they're cut down maps; the Active 10's maps appear exactly as they do in paper format, and the familiarity this brings makes it incredibly easy to use.

It's not all about the maps, however, because the Active 10 is a pretty impressive piece of kit in itself. It's built around a fairly bog-standard 240 x 320 resolution colour LCD screen, like many a modern PDA phone, but elsewhere it's anything but stock. The chassis is constructed from tough, rugged-feeling plastic. The screen is protected by a thick, clear and replaceable covering. The buttons have been made large enough to be operated while using gloves. And the whole thing is weather-proof with all slots, ports and compartments sealed with rubber flaps. It's not quite on a par with Nomad's industrial-strength PDAs, but it does mean you can use the device in a downpour or carry it in a soaking wet pocket without worrying whether it'll work or not when you need it most.

Roger Gibbons

May 2, 2009, 12:28 am

I'm still holding off buying another OS capable GPS simply because of the hopelessly restrictive licensing requirements of the OS. The GPS market is a rapidly developing one, but the OS maps are not transferable between devices, so if you want to upgrade your device, you will probably also have to purchase another set of OS maps, at enormous expense. In my view, the OS is severely limiting the use of GPS devices, and their licensing conditions must be changed to allow free transfer of the owners maps to a GPS upgrade.

Patrick John Gregory

July 10, 2009, 3:34 am

The OS map system is the bug-bear of all off-road systems in Great Britain and there is no way around it as the data is proprietary and OS has excellent lawyers! however in the long run buying the full range of 25,000 - 1 maps is the only answer and makes this (and other similar products) VERY expensive.


June 1, 2011, 12:17 am

Is there a more recent review - it is worth re-visiting - some piece on all the mapping formats would be good too - currently (May 2011) Amazon sell this device as the "plus" with Li-Ion battery etc and 1:50K for GB loaded as well as basemaps mentioned for £309.99

Also why are digital versions of maps so expensive? - production is very cheap onto an SD card (which is encrypted) - do a review get into it!!

comments powered by Disqus