The low down: Best Car Gadget 2009

Day 2 of our Vodafone Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2009 nominees round-up brings us to the motor car and all tech goodies within. After a lot of being ordered to turn left, right and about face because we were heading in the wrong direction, the top five in the class have been narrowed down.

So, before you head over to the voting page to mark your choices, here's a little run down of the contenders.

TomTom XL Live

Type
4.3" satnav

Release date
20/5/09

Price
£176.50

PL review rating
9/10


What thrusts this car gadget straight into contention is that TomTom has brought its excellent live traffic service, Traffic HD, into the mid-range XL models rather having to fork out for the full on TomTom Go. The way it works is by taking the information from all the other drivers with the system on all the other routes nearby and gives you the best route based on live, local traffic information. The only catch is that the service will cost you £7.99 per month.

The device itself has an all touch 4.3-inch display and it offers the local Google live search features as well as all the speed cameras, way points and POI that you'd expect from pretty much all satnavs these days. Very handy for finding a florist, hardware shop, somewhere to get a Sugar Puff sandwich or whatever it is you need.

The XL was £225 for the UK version when it came out but these days you can pick up the full European maps for much less. Great PND, reasonable price and really good car kit to go with it.

 

TomTom One IQ

Type
3.5" satnav

Release date
02/04/09

Price
£115

PL review rating
9/10


Funnily enough, it wasn't just the mid-range XL Live that impressed us on the road in 2009. The smaller, lighter, less expensive TomTom One IQ routes system was also a winner on Pocket-lint too. The deal here is that you pay £60 less but get the core features of an excellent satnav minus certain, admittedly nice, bells and whistles.

There's no Live routes and HD traffic system going on here but the IQ routes systems isn't too shabby itself. It calculates the best path based on the time of day. It's not quite as accurate and exciting as Live but it's certainly better than having just the one answer all the time.

In practice, the review team found it worked surprisingly well and naturally, it doesn't require any £7.99 subscription either, which is what makes it a real tempter and head and shoulders above much of the competition in its class. But is value enough to beat its bigger brother?

 

Navigon 8410

Type
5" satnav

Release date
09/09

Price
£370

PL review rating
8/10


If the TomTom One is the hatchback and the XL Live the saloon, then the Navigon 8410 is strictly luxury cars only. It's much more expensive than the other satnavs in contention for this year's award but for good reason. It's not just a satnav. This device has ambitions to be your PMP too. Naturally, it's an all touch 5-inch display but as well as providing route guidance, it plays music, videos, digital TV (with an add-on module) and works as a Bluetooth speakerphone too. Plus it has all the mini-USB and microSD slots it needs for the job.

That aside though, it has some excellent features as a PND too. Firstly, included in the price is a 2-year subscription to the Navigon traffic service and other live features as well as free map updates over the same period. What really blows you away though, is the 3D interface. The 8410 offers properly rendered 3D views of landmarks, cityscapes and the relief of the surrounding country as you drive. What that adds is of arguable use, but it's certainly a much better experience for your passengers to enjoy. For pure function, the award should stop here but whether the price tag justifies the gaudy experience is another thing.

 

CoPilot Live 8 for iPhone

Type
iPhone app

Release date
06/08/09

Price
£26

PL review rating
9/10

TomTom's arrival on the iPhone rather eclipsed the news of other mobile-friendly satnav software even though CoPilot has been making the stuff for years. At half the price of all the others, CoPilot Live 8 is a real bargain. For just £26 you get all the UK maps you need plus plenty of traffic and weather software too, without the need for subscription. It just comes down your mobile's data connection.

There are one or two decent features like Quick Stop for finding petrol stations and cafes and such, but what makes CoPilot Live 8 for iPhone a strong contender is that it works perfectly well and costs a tiny fraction of all the other satnav solutions. The company has even issued three free updates since launch.

 

Jabra SP700

Type
Bluetooth speakerphone

Price
£34

PL review rating
9/10


Speakerphones aren't exactly the sexiest area in tech but the Jabra SP700 did enough to get our reviewers excited. It doesn't do anything unbelievably ground-breaking but it's a really solid performer. It'll relay calls and music from your mobile phone over your car's FM radio and through your speakers and all with just one large button should you need to push it. It looks sleek, clips tightly to the sun visor and gives you 14 hours of talk time and 255 hours on standby, as well as having noise and echo cancellation technology for a very high quality experience. Some might even say the SP700 has winning value at just £34.

 



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