If you were to take a slice through the mid-range to high-end GPS market you’d have your hands on a device that covers a range of countries and includes a number of handy extras such as a multimedia player, Bluetooth and travel guides. These are great for frequent travellers or those planning an extended road trip, but casual users who only want basic functionality are paying quite a bit extra for features they’ll rarely use.
Acer is the latest to provide an effective solution for the entry-level market in the shape of the V200, which comes in at a very reasonable £119. It’s a relatively compact unit and, pleasingly, includes a dedicated volume control and soft power-off switch on the exterior, along with an SD-card slot to upgrade the built-in UK maps.
On firing up the V200 we’re pleased to report a pretty fast loading time for the maps and an equally fast time to first fix – less than a minute in most cases. You’re taken straight to the map view which updates to show your current location as well as offering a range of ways to view further information on your journey or customise the display.
One of the biggest issues we’ve had with usability of these devices in the past is that they often force you to navigate through a series of menus to bring up an itinerary, change the display mode or customise the information on screen. This is pretty awkward to do on the move, so we’re very pleased to see Acer offering access to all of the most important in-journey information directly from the map display.
You can view an itinerary either in text mode or as a turn-by-turn simulation in map mode, and select part of your journey to avoid if necessary. There’s also a range of trip information including current speed, distance/time to location, current road, 2D and 3D map displays with night mode and full zoom controls.
Delving into the menus you’ll find a pretty basic range of options for POI selection, a route planner that includes multi-stop planning, free map browsing and a pedestrian mode. This is about your lot, but together it combines to offer just the right amount of control without getting into ‘extras’ territory. The interface is very straightforward, buttons are large enough to operate without trouble and it’s always very easy to jump between navigation, system settings and the map.
On the road we remained impressed by the straightforward and effective navigation. Journeys were calculated quickly and there’s just about the right degree of sensitivity for re-planning routes and avoiding roads where need be. Position on the road was pretty accurate and voice directions are clear and well timed, although one small issue we had is that the arrows that show your next turn or direction, while noticeable, could have been a little bigger.
When you throw in the pedestrian mode and free map browsing you’re getting a little more than a basic navigation device, but Acer makes no bones about the target market for the V200. With modern advances beginning to offer far more than ‘just’ navigation, there’s some danger of the line blurring in terms of what a GPS device actually is. Acer has produced a very impressive reminder in one of the most solid entry-level devices we’ve seen.
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