If you have looked at satellite navigation kit and thought that the screens are a little small, then the RAC Satnav 220 has a big surprise for you: a screen that measures five inches corner-to-corner.
At that size the merest glance gives plenty of information, but it goes without saying that the big display means big hardware. At 148mm x 85mm x 34mm you’ll have to think carefully about where to put the thing so that it doesn’t obscure your view through the windscreen.
Also the glove compartment – or wherever it is you hide your sat-nav when it is not in use – is going to need to be pretty roomy. If you intend to carry the device around with you, its drawstring carry pouch might be handy, but its 520g of weight will be a bind.
The Satnav 220 is the top-end device of a trio recently launched by the RAC, and like the other two it incorporates something called Fuzzy Search. This is a joy to use. Enter a few letters from the name of whatever place you want to go to and a few letters from its town or city and the device searches its database for matches and offers all possibilities. Every time we tried it our chosen place was there. One screen tap and the device starts to navigate to it. Coupled with full seven-digit postcode navigation, this Fuzzy Search makes the Satnav 220 supremely easy to use.
The Satnav 220 comes with maps of the UK, Eire, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The first ten are 100 percent mapped, while the remainder are not fully mapped though coverage is 80-100 percent and it is the more sparsely populated areas that are less well mapped. There is also some coverage of the Baltic area and Greece (except the Athens region), though there is no street level data in these regions. The RAC relies on Navteq for its GPS mapping data.
Spoken instructions are loud and clear and you get TMC data as part of the deal. That means you get an FM antenna and can receive live traffic data updates through it. This is invaluable, as it shows traffic issues on screen and, if any are in your path, the system will route you round them.
There are some other features too. Bluetooth is built in, and if you pair the Satnav 220 with your mobile you can use it as a hands-free device. Audio files in MP3 format can be played and an SD card slot on the edge of the hardware is where you store the files. But the provided card is already almost full of map data, so you’ll need a second card. Problem: when you remove the map data card from the device the navigation software no longer runs. Solution: it is either MP3 playing or navigation, not both.
A third ‘extra’ is the ability to play data fed in from an AV source such as a DVD player or set-top box. You get a cable for this purpose, although we aren’t sure quite when or how this would come in handy.
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