The GPS market has gathered pace with such wild abandon in recent times you sometimes wonder if we'll end up forgetting what they were originally for.
Driven by such household names as TomTom, Garmin and Mio, modern devices are packed with so many extra features that navigation is almost taking a backseat. Strangely the "big boys" in the business tend to shy away from the entry-level market, by this we mean around the £100 mark, preferring to leave it to companies less known for their navigational prowess.
Reaffirming the origins of this essential yet ever-changing little gadget is the Acer V200, something that promises nothing more than to help you find your way home. You won't find additional features such as an MP3 player, travel guides, Bluetooth or built-in digital camera here, but at this price point you really can't complain. What we're really interested in is whether it does the basics well; an area that some household names might even admit they've slipped on occasionally.
Acer makes a good start with a manual volume control on the exterior, making quick adjustments on the move a few button flicks away. A fast startup takes you immediately to the map display and with a refreshingly quick time to first fix of under a minute you're up and running in no time. The biggest strength of the V200 is usability, which it accomplishes by putting all of the most vital information you'd need on a journey within easy reach. A single press on any of a number of areas of the "cockpit" will take you to the journey itinerary, adjust your trip computer information or change the map from 2D to 3D or night mode.
Maps are fairly basic but very clear, and we were impressed by both the clarity and accuracy of the spoken directions and the speed at which it can initially plan a journey or recalculate if you take a wrong turn. If you decide to navigate visually, you shouldn't have too many problems in most cases but it would have been nice if the "next intersection" arrow were a little larger to make turn-offs in busy areas more immediately obvious at a glance.
Elsewhere you're given just about the right amount of additional control, with a comprehensive list of POIs (points of interest), a multi-stop route planner and pedestrian mode. You can also browse the map manually by pressing and dragging to move the current location, doubling it up nicely as a portable road-atlas if need be.
Preloaded on removable SD card are full maps of the UK, which can be upgraded at a later time or you could pick up the UK and Europe edition of the navigator instead for an extra £30.
The V200 appeals to those who don't need a host of extra features on an in-car navigator. Where high-end devices can drag you through a host of sub-menus when attempting to perform simple operations, Acer makes all of this very easy.
When you throw in some impressive performance on the navigation front you've got an extremely solid entry-level navigational aide that reminds us exactly why GPS became so popular.