Power is drawn from three AA batteries (three lithium cells are provided with the unit) – another thoughtful feature as it means that extra juice should be readily available wherever you find yourself. You can use the Active 10 with a rechargeable lithium ion battery, if you wish, and it will charge in the battery bay, but this is an optional extra (£45). You do get a rugged-feeling nylon pouch and neck strap in the box, but the bike mount, is also extra.
The custom operating system on the device is incredibly well-designed. The sheer detail of the maps means that planning routes is slick and simple: you simply tell it to create a new route, then pan and zoom on the map using the device’s mini joystick until you find where you want to start. Then it’s a matter of clicking the stick to set your first waypoint, and further waypoints are added in exactly the same way. Six buttons around the bottom half of the device provide shortcuts to useful functions such as zoom in/out and delete waypoint, while a small box at the bottom of the screen displays important information such as position, altitude and total route distance.
The six buttons don’t always perform this set of functions, however: they’re essentially soft buttons, performing different tasks depending on which screen you happen to be in. It’s a system that takes some getting used to, but after a short while, you’ll be wondering why other manufacturers don’t employ similar systems.
There’s also a wealth of other features on offer too. The Active 10 will track your walks and rides if you can’t be bothered to plan them out waypoint-by-waypoint – and it will then allow you to convert these tracks into routes for export. The level of detail available for trip analysis is astonishing. At the end of a walking or riding route as well as recording your position, the device logs your altitude over time, displaying it as a graphical, side-on profile, as well as your total distance, time moving, average speed, maximum speed and so on, all on one informative page.
And not only does the Active 10 have a SiRF Star III GPS receiver on board, but it also has a digital compass built in that enables you to get a heading even when you’re stood stock still. With most other GPS devices, you have to be moving before an accurate bearing can be taken, but more useful than the convenience is the fact that as you swivel on the spot, the map on-screen moves with you, allowing you to relate features on the landscape to features on the map quickly and easily.