Road Angel Navigator

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Road Angel Navigator
  • Road Angel Navigator
  • Road Angel Navigator
  • Road Angel Navigator

Pros

  • Road Sense safety features, POI alerts, Excellent manual

Cons

  • Reflective screen, Not pocket sized

Bottom Line

While we have seen other GPS units equipped with basic safety warnings, the Road Sense sofware on the RoadAngel Navigator is by far the most extensive and practical implementation of safety features we have seen on a GPS to date.

Would you buy this?

With an ever increasing amount of red light cameras, accident blackspots and variable speed limits on today's roads, driving can at times be a risky business. The Road Angel Navigator, which features a fully fledged GPS and a comprehensive road safety package called Road Sense, aims to take some of the pressure off drivers by including safety warnings for many of these hazards.

Manufactured by Sentinel Geo Systems, the Navigator is the latest in the Road Angel series, which have previously only comprised of specialized safety products with no GPS functionality. We think the marrying of GPS and the wide ranging safety features found in the Navigator is both a logical and welcome development.

The Road Sense database on the Navigator stores information such as school safety zones, accident black spots, speed / red light camera locations and speed limits. When approaching these areas, drivers are warned by audio and visual prompts to slow down and can even add their own safety locations into the database. Furthermore, the unit also features a driver fatigue timer, which chimes an alert if it detects continuous driving for 2 hours without a break.

The Road Angel Navigator package includes a free six-months of Road Sense updates, meaning that the database of stored locations is always up to date. Optional updates are then $9.95 per month or $129 for a yearly subscription. Updating the Navigator is a simple matter of connecting it to your PC by means of a supplied USB cable and running the update software.

While Sentinel have tried to market the Navigator as a 'portable' device, at 87 x 120 x 22mm and weighing 200 grams, we feel it is just a little too large to carry around comfortably. That said, it is nowhere near as big as solely in-car units and Sentinel have included a docking station allowing the unit to be easily detached and taken elsewhere. Furthering its portability, the unit also offers voice assisted navigation in different modes - one for driving and one for walking.

Our biggest gripe with the Navigator was the 3.5" LCD touch screen. We found it to be highly reflective, difficult to read in sunlight and with a poor viewing angle. These problems were only exacerbated when we used the Navigator while walking around in day light conditions.

But we had no problems with the map rendering of the Navigator and found the audio prompts to be both precise and easily understandable. The next turn instructions are displayed at the top of screen with the available menu options on the left. The map colour scheme was also clear (day and night modes are available), with the route displayed in green and your current position easily visible on the map. The emphasis on safety was again evident, as the vehicle's current speed is prominently displayed on every screen.

When the Navigator is first turned on, it takes well over a minute to fully load up and display the main menu options. Pressing the Destination button brings up a window of recently accessed locations, or you can enter a new destination, such as Address, Favorite Location, POI or preset Home/Office locations. Entering in an address involves typing on a QWERTY keyboard and at times, we found the keys on the onscreen keyboard a little too small for our fingers.

Searching requires you to select a state, suburb and then a street and street number. While the street name is not filtered by suburb, the Navigator helpfully displays the nearest matching addresses in nearby locations as well as cross streets in a confirmation screen. After the destination is correctly entered, the unit then prompts you to save the location as a favorite, a feature which we found quite handy.

The Points Of Interest (POI) database was another strength of the Navigator, with around 540,000 locations stored. As with other GPS units, users have the option of customizing proximity alerts based on the type of POIs; for example, you can have the unit alert you to the nearest Restaurant, or more specifically, the nearest Winery, Cafe or Roadside Diner.

While Sentinel have certainly taken some time and trouble with the Road Angel Navigator, we were also impressed by the professional CD accompaniment. The manual on the CD is comprehensive, easy to understand and the demonstration video featuring Peter Brock is a nice touch. It's small, but significant little extras like these which make purchasing decisions that much easier.

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