Satnav seems to be turning up everywhere. At one time you had to pay for the privilege but with the advent of cheaper chipsets and smaller technology, GPS is here to stay. The Acer e310 Travel Companion is a good case in point. It’s a nice handheld size, so you can use it on foot as well as in the car. There is a dedicated pedestrian mode for those who like to wander around and we found that we could easily get four hours from the device in this mode, even with the screen turned to it’s brightest setting for clarity.
However, it’s the motorist who will get the most from the e310. A car-mounting kit comes as standard, so you can fix it to your dash. We found setting it up was easy and while we were concerned that a budget solution would have trouble getting a strong signal, we were surprised to find it up and running in 20 seconds. If you’re having trouble getting a signal, Acer has also bundled an external antenna with the kit, which you can affix outside your car.
If you were thinking that it looks more like a PDA than a satnav, you’d be right, as it shares similar qualities with Acer’s own PDA range. Powered by a 300MHz ARM processor, it’s a quick and nimble machine and can easily re-calculate your route if you deviate from instructions.
You can use it for viewing photos or as an MP3 player too. Naturally, you can’t run the satnav at the same time as the music player, as this would get in the way of instructions but it’s fine for when you’re out of the car.
There is even a stylus that you’ll usually find with a PDA, so if you have fat fingers or are just clumsy, you can peck away at the instructions on the screen instead of jabbing with a finger.
The screen is a standard 2.8-inch screen that you’ll find on a PDA, which is smaller than most devices that follow the larger TomTom styling but we didn’t find the slightly smaller screen hampered us in any way.
The maps for the UK and Ireland come preloaded, so you don’t need to worry about downloading them. Getting them to work is easy and it is only when you’re on your way that our only real complaint with the device materialises. Namely, the speaker, which is frankly under-powered for most users. It’s fine if you’re in a fairly modern car and don’t have the distraction of children or a partner onboard, otherwise we’d suggest Acer look in to adding a better one.
At less than £200 this is a great all-round solution. It may not have the largest screen and it has a few kinks but the extras and all round useability make it a worthwhile investment.