Q. What’s the most important feature on a sat nav? A. A map, right? Maybe not, if a new smartphone app takes off. So can a sat nav with no map really help us get to where we want to go?
In the latest Which? sat nav reviews, we tested a range of models, including (for the first time) more smartphone sat nav apps than dedicated models.
One of the apps that caught my attention this time was the Trafficmaster Companion for the iPhone. Not because at £35 it’s pretty expensive for an app. Not even because to search Points of Interest to find your nearest petrol station you need to call Trafficmaster at a cost of ‘less than £1.20’.
No, the reason why this sat nav is especially interesting is that it doesn’t have any road maps! Yes, this is highly unusual for a sat nav.
Don’t worry though, you won’t have to navigate by the stars. Instead of a road map, the Trafficmaster uses an arrow diagram with your next turning to help you get to your destination. This is complimented by a bar to show the approximate distance to your turning, and of course the usual audio instructions.
Life without maps
This is better than nothing, but why would you choose this when you can use a sat nav with a map? A map provides a fuller picture of your journey and surrounding area to help you visualise your route and minimise any guess work. It also provides a bit of back-up, should the GPS signal fail.
You can zoom out to view a smaller scale and more of your onward journey. And when you’re zoomed in, you can see areas of greenery, water, and other landmarks that can help and reassure you along your journey.
Why rely so much on a single arrow as your main visual point of reference? Maybe because it’s just too tempting to look at a detailed on-screen map rather than keeping your eyes on the road, in which case the Trafficmaster Companion is an interesting product – but definitely not one for me.
Is there anyone who would prefer a ‘mapless’ approach on a sat nav and who gets confused by maps? Perhaps you already own the Trafficmaster Companion? If so, let us know your good or bad experiences of it…