(Pocket-lint) - As more and more of us get a portable satnav for the car, manufacturers are trying to offer unique selling points that make us want to choose them over the competition, so has the NDrive G800 got what it takes? We jump in the car to find out.

The NDrive G800 is on the surface your standard widescreen GPS offering. Sporting a 4.3-inch screen and 8GB of memory, the GPS receiver is capable of offering you music, images, ebooks, video, games, Bluetooth connectivity and of course navigation on the go.

Turn on the navigation element and it's standard fare with a simple if not a too simple menu interface. Those used to the big bubbly icons on the TomTom range will be disappointed, this is considerably more fiddly and the screen's real estate in our mind hasn't been used effectively. There is plenty of white space where there doesn't need to be.

Text input can be via an onscreen keyboard, which you can change to suit your typing needs. Traditional mobile phone style, QWERTY, or ABC. The QWERTY is clearly the easiest, however the small buttons do make it fiddly especially if you've got big fingers.

Typing in an address is made harder than it should be due the device not offering full support for UK postcodes. This means you've got to type in the first half and then confirm with a road address thereafter. Considering this is supposed to be a top of the range model it's shocking that it's not included and only adds to the annoyance that you've got to use that fiddly keyboard more than you really want to.

Once you're programmed in and ready to roll the mapping interface again is simple to read with all the relevant data either displayed or at the touch of an icon, however again, perhaps it is a little too over-simplified.

When the device isn't using the Tele Atlas mapping data, it offers photographic aerial images so you can better realise your surroundings.

Disappointingly though, not all of Europe is covered and currently only the following cities in the UK have images associated with them: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bristol, Barnsley, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Luton, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Preston, Reading, Sheffield, Stoke, Swansea and Wigan. In Europe there is a handful in Spain, Portugal, Italy and France.

Still if you do travel within those cities you can see what the town looks like from the sky. In practice and it's not as cluttered as you might expect, although unless you've seen the city from the sky doesn't really help.

We tested the satnav in two of the cities that are included; Reading and London. While the photographs of London did help, for Reading it made no difference and I think that it comes down purely to having seen the capital from the air.

But the G800 isn't just about navigation.

The multimedia side of things is fairly straightforward and, like most satnavs on the market, allows you to make the most of your media when stuck in a traffic jam on the M25. Sound can be streamed to your radio via the FM transmitter at the press of a button.

If it's not listening, viewing, reading or watching that you're interested in NDrive has gone a step further than most satnav makers and included games as well. Before you get excited and think that you can ditch your Nintendo DS or PSP think again. Here you get Bubbles and Breakout. There is a third in the gaming menu, Calculate, but on closer inspection this is just a calculator - oh what fun.

Graphics are simple, but then like your basic mobile phone games these have been designed to fill your boredom waiting for your partner to finish shopping or pay for petrol.

Connecting the device to your mobile phone allows you to turn this into a handsfree unit and once connected you have full control over your phone's phonebook, call history and keypad. The unit works well and is simple to use.


The main selling point here is the photographic aerial images with the roads and directions laid over them in an attempt to help you go the right way. However the end result is more of a gimmick than a necessity.

While there are plenty of multimedia functions, Bluetooth connectivity and gadgets like an FM streamer, the system lacks traffic support and more importantly full postcode support making this not the best on the market for its core function.

Does it improve your awareness of where you are? The trouble is, unless you've seen that city from the sky, not really.

Writing by Stuart Miles.