Satnav has changed the way we navigate about the place. At one time, every motorist worth his salt had a paper map tucked under the driver’s seat but in this age of gadgets, you’re just as likely to find an electronic map stuck to the dashboard.

Not so if Microsoft has anything to do with it, as this latest version in the Autoroute series stays firmly intended for the notebook, or desktop PC, user. The one nod to the modern motorist is the addition of a bundled GPS receiver. If you’re planning to use it on long trips, we’d suggest investing in a charger for your notebook, which you plug into the cigarette lighter, as well as disabling the Hibernation or screen savers.

The idea of having a large screen with the map on it may sound like a good idea but in practise, it’s less than ideal.

For starters, you’ll need to place it in the passenger seat – or on a partner’s lap – and even then it isn’t in eye-line so less trust worthy than a dashboard mounted solution.

Aside from the driving safety aspect, we were also a little afraid of pulling up to lights, as having a notebook on display isn’t the best idea of getting around town unseen.

On the plus side, because it’ll be run from your notebook the designers haven’t had to worry about limited storage space. To this end, you get more Points of Interest (POI) and map detail than can possibly be found on any other solution. So, you really want to explore a new area and find the best places to pull up, this is as good a tool as any online search engine and as it works seamlessly with Microsoft Live can help you plan journeys.

In fact, this is possibly where Autoroute is intended to be used – as a journey planner. It allows you to enter you start and finish points and then to calculate either the quickest, cheapest or most interesting of routes.

This may be nothing new but what Autoroute allows you to do is to enter the cost of fuel and to work out how much it’ll cost you, or if you need to claim it back from your employer, how but to bill them.

Price when reviewed:
£90 with GPS £33 without GPS

At one time, the only affordable way to replace the need of a map in the car was with a notebook-based solution.

However, with far smaller and easier, not to say safer, devices on the market, products like this no longer have a mainstream use.

If you need the larger screen and can afford to pull over to study the maps, then it’s fine but we’d suggest the average person opt for a dedicated solution.