Wayfinder Bluetooth GPS receiver review

3.5 out of 5
£59.00 (GPS unit only)

For

Can be used with any software, nice and small, quick pick up on satellites

Against

Unit price, no software in box, ongoing costs if you choose Wayfinder’s software

GPS receivers are becoming increasingly common in mobile phones, but if you are disconnected, Wayfinder think they have the solution to convert your mobile phone into a fully-fledged navigator. But will this take you down the right road or lead you astray?

As the name suggests, the Wayfinder Bluetooth GPS is a GPS receiver, bundled in with the normal car mounting options for your mobile phone. On opening the box, you’ll find that there is no navigation software, just the receiver. However, the Wayfinder branding does lead you off to find Wayfinder’s software, and the included WF Navigator instructions can lead you through the installation process.

Firstly to the GPS receiver itself. The box is about the size of a matchbox and is actually a branded RoyalTek RBT-2100LP unit. It is simply a Bluetooth GPS unit, and after charging, pairs easily with your mobile phone. At this point, it is perhaps worth stating that you don’t need to use Wayfinder’s software, you could use the GPS receiver with any other software.

We found that the GPS receiver quickly got a lock on satellites, thanks to being a SiRFstar III chipset, accurately relaying back location position. The receiver has its own internal battery, which you have to charge prior to usage and you’ll find a mains charger in the box, as well as a car charger. Wayfinder state that you’ll get 6 hours from a charged unit.

The Wayfinder Navigator software is compatible with a wide range of phones (see their website) and devices and after quick download and installation; you are asked to register before being given access. This is an off-board mapping solution in this format, so you need to ensure you have an unlimited data package or the costs will ramp up: equally, you will need a phone that supports GPRS or 3G, which is basically most handsets these days.

The Wayfinder software is actually very good, giving you voice-guided turn-by-turn instructions. It won’t compete with a dedicated system, but does hold its ground. You are provided with basic options allowing you to easily navigate an A to B route. You can either browse the map to pinpoint your destination, or search for a location.

We found that street name searching worked well, but the more information you supply the better. It also supports postcodes, so stick in the details and you’ll find the location. You can then view the map of that location, or once you have plotted a route, you can zoom to the start, or finish, or see an overview, then navigate to your destination.

There are a number of screens to view during navigation, from a map view either in 2D or 3D, to a status screen showing a compass and route information, and a large guide screen which shows an on-screen instruction, such as the next turning. This is a good addition because it makes the most of the screen size available on your phone.

There are other features included, such as weather and public transport information, POIs, as well as options to save favourites, which could be used to store a number of preset destinations before you set off, to save having to search on the move. On the whole, it is a very nice little piece of software for your phone.

But there is a catch. The first is that you will need a data package to avoid high costs as the information is downloaded. The second is that the service is not free. The costs vary, and there are plenty of options to choose from, with a 1-year UK and Ireland subscription costing £39.99, or 3 years for £47.99. You can install the software on multiple devices using the same account details, but only use one device at a time.

You can also take your Wayfinder into different territories, but your subscription is for a particular region, so there will be additional costs if you take this option.

Stepping away from in-car navigation, due to the size of the unit, it is possible to take the Wayfinder GPS device off into the wilds without being too much of a burden – you will still be able to use the receiver in conjunction with a phone to back up your map navigation, or to verify locations. Because you can switch it off, you can simply power it on when you need it rather than running down the battery.

Verdict

Overall, we like the Wayfinder Navigator software works, but you have to consider whether the ongoing costs (data and subscription) stand-up against a dedicated satnav option, which costs more, but you only have to stump-up the cash once. However, you might find that your phone already has bundled GPS navigation software, so it is worth examining all costs in detail. If you already have a GPS in your phone, then you don’t need an additional receiver.

For those without a GPS receiver, as there is no bundled software in the box, you have to consider whether this is the most cost-effective to get connected as Bluetooth GPS receivers are easily available online. You do get the car kit in the box too, but again, it is worth looking to see whether this represents the best value for money.