Best Navigation Systems in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update January 13, 2020
No matter if you're an experienced driver or a beginner, you should be ready for any road hazards. Fortunately, a GPS navigator is designed to provide you with good guidance in any conditions. Have a look at our GPS navigation systems review and take your choice! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Screen
Navigation
Informativity
Functions
Warranty
 
PROS

The built-in memory has a capacity of 16 GB - this is enough to store all the maps you need as well as useful information (you can expand the memory using a memory card up to 32 GB, not included). The quad-core processor provides fast operation.

CONS

Low speaker volume.

OUR VERDICT

This model is ideal for people who often travel long distances by car: the Lifetime TomTom Traffic service will help you avoid traffic jams, and Speed Cameras Alerts will save you from fines. Hands-free calling with built-in mic makes driving even safer.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Screen

6-inch, TouchScreen

Navigation

Maps of Western Europe

Informativity

Voice Guidance

Functions

Smartphone Messages, TomTom Road Trips and TomTom MyDrive services, Speed Cameras Alerts (Trial version), Hands-free Calling, Siri and Google Now™ compatible, Destination Prediction, Lifetime TomTom Traffic, update via Wi-FI

Warranty

2 years

PROS

The function of displaying messages from a smartphone on the screen of the navigator will be very useful for drivers who are actively using social networks: the system can display them in text form or voice them so that you are not distracted from driving.

CONS

Short battery life (up to 1 hour).

OUR VERDICT

Although the TomTom Go Basic is an inexpensive model, it is still quite technologically advanced: for example, the system is able to learn your most frequent routes in order to predict your next destination, and it works very accurately. Lane Guidance will help novice drivers.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Screen

5-inch, TouchScreen

Navigation

Maps of Western Europe

Informativity

Advanced Lane Guidance, Voice guidance

Functions

Smartphone Messages, Speed Cameras Alerts (Trial version), TomTom Services via Smartphone, Destination prediction, Update via Wi-Fi

Warranty

2 years

PROS

The high 800x480 resolution provides a detailed depiction of maps. The ability to update maps via Wi-Fi rids you of the necessity to mess with wires. Voice navigation available in several languages will make your trips more comfortable.

CONS

The touchscreen response time is slower than one might expect.

OUR VERDICT

Take the Garmin Drive 51LMT-S with you on the long trips if you wish to make them pleasant and safe. And thanks to points of interest rated by TripAdvisor, you'll be able to choose the best places to stay overnight, have a snack, or refuel your car.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Screen

5-inch, Multi-touch

Navigation

Full Europe maps

Informativity

Smart notifications, Driver alerts, Voice guidance

Functions

Live traffic and live parking services, Bluetooth calling

Warranty

30-day money-back guarantee

PROS

A protective case is supplied with the device to minimise the risk of device failure in the event of an accidental fall. The SunShade provides excellent visibility even in bright sunshine, so you don’t have to peer at the screen.

CONS

The quality of the car charger could be better.

OUR VERDICT

If the dashboard is a bit far from the driver's seat and you want to purchase a navigator with a large screen, you will definitely like this model: the 7-inch touchscreen and large font will help you easily read street names, warnings and tips at just a glance.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Screen

7-inch, TouchScreen

Navigation

World maps

Informativity

Lane Guidance, Voice guidance

Functions

Speed Cameras Alerts, Active Voice Speed Alerts, Built-in FM Transmitter, Intelligent Route Planning

Warranty

3 months

PROS

The Garmin Real Directions service makes voice navigation even more comprehensible: the device uses street names, store names and recognizable landmarks. Driver alerts notify the driver of sharp curves and level crossings to make driving as safe as possible.

CONS

Contains only UK and Ireland maps.

OUR VERDICT

This Garmin GPS navigator has a simple and intuitive interface, so you can quickly figure out all the features of the device. FourSquare™ points will not let you miss interesting sights. Also, the device is compatible with the Garmin backup camera.

detailed parameters
Type

Portable

Screen

5-inch, TouchScreen

Navigation

Maps of UK and Ireland

Informativity

Voice Guidance, Driver Alerts

Functions

Garmin Real Directions service, Driver alerts, Road trip-ready with TripAdvisor™ traveller ratings and Foursquare™ points

Warranty

2 years

TomTom L134055

Holds Everything You Need

Modern GPS devices have proven themselves to be quite handy devices, but most of them always seem to be lacking something. Whatever features or information they lack often comes down to the lack of built-in storage. The makers of the TomTom L134055 6 Inch Car Sat Nav have been quite aware of this problem for a while, and have created a device that includes plenty of storage options as well as the ability to upgrade the storage capacity should the need arise. This device comes with 16 GB of internal storage, which is quite a bit when compared to many other competing devices. Although this may seem small when compared to something like a smartphone's storage capacity, keep in mind that such a device doesn't need all of the apps that a smartphone does, freeing up much of that storage for things that are useful, such as maps.

Although 16 GB should be plenty for most people, those who find themselves needing more will be pleased to learn that the device can support additional storage through the use of SD cards, as it supports those as large as 32 GB. In addition, you won't have to worry about slow operation of the device thanks to the quad-core processor that it uses, providing smooth and stutter-free functionality.

Review of TomTom L134055 6 Inch Car Sat Nav

Interface With Your Smartphone

So, why does a navigation device need so much storage capacity? The answer would lie in the enormous amount of functionality provided by this device. As it is a navigation device, the TomTom comes with built-in maps of all of Western Europe, letting you drive virtually anywhere on this side of the continent as well as throughout the UK. Along with this, many different functions add to the overall usefulness of this device, including the TomTom Road Trips and MyDrive services, Speed Camera and Driving alerts, and much more.

One of the best features of this device, though, is in its ability to interface with your smartphone. This is done through the built-in Bluetooth model, and makes full use of the Bluetooth technology. With your smartphone paired to this device, you can make use of such features as hands-free calling, utilising the built-in mic to let you safely make and receive phone calls while on the road. Pairing with your smartphone also lets you take full advantage of the live alerts provided by the Road Trips and MyDrive services, keeping you up to date with information about traffic congestion, nearby points of interest, and much more useful information. If you plan on taking a long road trip and need the perfect navigator for it, then this device will not disappoint.

TomTom L134055 6 Inch Car Sat Nav in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

TomTom Go Basic

Safety First

The advance of in-car technology has had a strange effect on the experience of driving. On one hand, having something like an electronic navigator can make your driving experience far easier than it had ever been before, letting you see where you are going and helping to prevent you from getting lost. On the other hand, though, having such devices in a car can lend itself to causing distractions that simply weren't there before. Using a navigator often requires you to take your eyes off the road in order to see where you're going. Also, with the prevalence of smartphones, drivers can also become distracted by incoming calls and notifications, leading to an unsafe driving experience.

The TomTom Go Basic 5 inch Car Sat Nav is an electronic navigator that will help swing the balance of your driving experience back towards safety, thanks to some of its features that prevent you from needing to take your eyes off the road. The function of displaying messages from a smartphone on the screen of the navigator will be very useful for drivers who are actively using social networks: the system can display them in text form or even voice them so that you are not distracted from driving, letting you watch where you're driving instead of having to focus on a small screen.

Review of TomTom Go Basic 5 inch Car Sat Nav

Inexpensive Yet Advanced

As with pretty much any kind of product, the maxim "You get what you pay for" usually applies to car navigators. However, this isn't always true. Although the TomTom Go Basic is an inexpensive model, it is still quite technologically advanced: for example, the system is able to learn your most frequent routes in order to predict your next destination, and it works very accurately, often letting you just drive instead of having to preprogram your route into the navigator. Those who take frequent trips to the same locations, yet often can't remember some of the details on how to get there will find this feature exceptionally useful. In addition, the Lane Guidance feature will help novice drivers by instructing them to stay in the best lane for the route and traffic conditions.

Along with the above-mentioned features, this handy navigator from TomTom offers plenty more, including accurate traffic conditions as well as regularly updated maps. One thing to note about this model is that the battery life is quite short, so it is best to use it while connected directly to a power source. Although the 5-inch screen isn't the largest that we've seen, you should have no problems with the readability of the text. All in all, this inexpensive navigator from TomTom gives you a feature-rich package that is quite competitive with many more expensive models.

TomTom Go Basic 5 inch Car Sat Nav in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Garmin Drive 51LMT-S

Unrivaled Functionality

Garmin is not only about the latest navigation systems but also about style. Already at the first glance at the Garmin Drive 51LMT-S navigator, you’ll definitely notice its sleek metal casing that makes it look different from the majority of its rivals. The gadget has a 5-inch multi-touch screen with 800x480 pixels resolution that provides great quality of maps so that you are never confused with where you are. However, we are sure that aside from the nice look and detailed picture on the screen, you want your satellite navigation system to be functional and convenient to use, and the Garmin Drive 51LMT-S meets these requirements.

First of all, let us point out that this GPS device provides you with full maps of Europe and their lifetime updates. Updating your maps is as easy as anything thanks to a built-in Wi-Fi option that allows you to get new maps without turning your PC on. Two more outstanding features of this navigator are live traffic and live parking options. Thanks to these very functions, you will always know which route to take in order not to get stuck in a traffic jam and how to park your car without the need to look for free parking space.

Another benefit that deserves your attention is voice navigation option that rids you of the necessity to keep your eyes on the GPS screen all the time when you travel around an unfamiliar area. Just tell your gadget your point of destination and your smart Garmin Drive 51LMT-S will lead you there using convenient and clear instructions. One more feature you’d like your navigation system to possess is Bluetooth calling that allows you to pick up the phone while having your hands on the wheel, and it’s possible with this Garmin navigator.

The last but not the least feature we’d like to mention is that the 51LMT-S offers you points of interest offered by the TripAdvisor. This option will be of great use for those who travel in a foreign city/country since you can see what hotels and restaurants are on your way, look at their rates, and choose the ones you like best.

Review of Garmin Drive 51LMT-S 5 Inch Sat Nav

Garmin Guards Your Safety

Paying attention to what is happening on the road is something that every individual needs to do, no matter if you're a driver or a pedestrian. With the Garmin Drive 51LMT-S in your car, you can be sure of your safety. The thing is that the navigation system informs you about the speed limit changes, sharp curves, railroad crossings, and gives other notifications that allow you to control the situation on the road with the maximum amount of precision. Incident notification is another feature that differs this Garmin navigator from its rivals. To activate this function, you need to choose a telephone number that will receive a message from you if an accident takes place. The aforementioned message is sent with a map and an exact place where the accident has happened. Please keep in mind that the message can be sent only to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. Although this option seems to be really convenient, we hope you’ll never have a chance to use it. So buy the Garmin Drive 51LMT-S and let your every trip be as safe as possible.

Garmin Drive 51LMT-S 5 Inch Sat Nav in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Navpal 7 inch

Convenient in Use

Anyone who has used any kind of GPS or car navigation system can tell you some of the drawbacks that are frequently experienced with such devices. As with any other device that is often mounted on a dashboard or windshield, car mounts often fall down, bringing the device and their usefulness with them. When this happens at high speeds, this can often result in the device breaking. Another issue that is often encountered with such devices is the lack of screen readability, especially in direct sunlight, Unfortunately, this is a problem inherent with many devices that use an LCD screen, and it is certainly not limited to car navigators. These two common problems can often lead to frustration while driving.

The Navpal 7 inch Sat Nav is a car navigator that was created to help reduce the effects of these two common issues. A protective case is supplied with the device to minimise the risk of device failure in the event of an accidental fall, helping to keep it fully protected and functional whenever the inevitable happens. Along with this, the included SunShade provides excellent visibility of the LCD screen even in bright sunshine, so you don’t have to peer closely at the screen, letting you easily see its contents with just a glance.

Review of Navpal 7 inch Sat Nav

Benefits of a Large Screen

Speaking of the screen, the one on this model is quite large, coming in at 7 inches, making it the largest of all of the models that we have reviewed. If the dashboard in your car is a bit far from the driver's seat and you want to purchase a navigator with a large screen, you will definitely like this model: the 7-inch touchscreen and large font will help you easily read street names, warnings and tips at just a glance. Coupled with the above mentioned SunShield, this helps make this one of the most easily readable screens that we've seen on such devices, which in turn only enhances the usefulness of the device.

The benefits of this device don't end with the screen. This handy car navigator gives you all of the features that users come to expect from such devices, including maps that cover the entire world, making it a useful device to bring with you on holidays to other continents. Lane and voice guidance is also included in this model, letting you focus on driving the most efficient route while letting you pay full attention to the road. The only negative we have encountered here is that the quality of the charging cable could be better, but this shouldn't be a factor for most people. In the end, this large screen car navigator from NAVPAL will be your most faithful driving companion.

Navpal 7 inch Sat Nav in the use

 

Garmin Drive 52 UK MT-S

Full Voice Navigation

Garmin has been one of the biggest names in navigation devices for years now, and as such, they have managed to leverage their expertise in car navigation systems by creating the Garmin Drive 52 UK MT-S 5 Inch Sat Nav. This device contains many of the latest features that aid drivers in making it safely from point A to point B, including full voice navigation. Although this device is hardly the only model to feature voice navigation (most models now offer this functionality), very few are able to match the level of detail added in this model's capabilities. Not only do you get full voice navigation with street names, but also through the use of landmarks, helping you easily identify specific streets and areas by what all is in the area, not just the names of the streets. This allows for a fully safe driving experience where you never need to take your eyes off the road to see where you need to go.

Voice navigation isn't the only way to find your way around with this device. For those who appreciate being able to see a map in front of them, this device provides fully up to date maps of the UK and Ireland, accessible through simple menus that won't distract you from your driving. While this device's maps may be limited in compared to other devices, you will find them to be as accurate and easy to follow as they come.

Review of Garmin Drive 52 UK MT-S 5 Inch Sat Nav

Real Time Services

One of the biggest benefits to having a Garmin navigation system is in its access to the real-time services that are provided with the device. Such services include live traffic and parking information that lets you avoid congested roads while also being able to find plenty of parking without having to stop far from your destination. You also get live alerts for things such as driving through school zones or traffic cameras to keep you aware of when you need to pay special attention to the road. You even get access to TripAdvisor and Foursquare points of interest to give you ideas of what sights to see in your given area, helping you take full advantage of the device for making the best of your road trip.

Using the device itself is about as easy as it gets, as this device uses a logical menu layout that lets you find information quickly and easily. The 5-inch touchscreen display is quite responsive and is easily readable in most lighting conditions. If you also use a Garmin backup camera, you can connect it to this device to give you a clear view of what is behind you, letting you backup your vehicle safely. With all of the features included with this car navigation system, you will find it to be the ultimate road trip companion.

Garmin Drive 52 UK MT-S 5 Inch Sat Nav in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

What Is a Navigation System?

Everyone faced the situation when it was necessary to get from point A to point B, choosing the shortest and the most convenient route. Previously, this task was solved with the help of large paper maps. Firstly, you had to find your current geographic location on the map and only then calculate and pick your route. Yet, it was not very convenient since you had to keep track of the turnings and have at least some knowledge of topography. However, with the appearance of GPS (Global Positioning System) a problem with determining the location and finding a route has been successfully solved. Nowadays, advanced satellite navigation systems provide information not only about a route but also about all famous landmarks and public institutions that you might be interested in. In this review, you can find top navigation systems currently available on the market. After reading it, you should be able to find the car navigation system that will best suit your lifestyle and requirements.

As a driver, you might also be interested in purchasing a Bluetooth car kit, which will let you make/receive calls without actually touching your smartphone.

What Features to Compare

Type and Screen Size

When choosing a car GPS navigation, such features as the type and the screen require the most significant consideration as they give you an idea of how the device can be used. According to the type, GPS navigators are divided into portable and installable devices. Portable GPS navigators are traditional GPS units, which can be easily removed to carry around, or mount to another vehicle if needed. These GPS units are generally mounted inside the passenger compartment by means of a special suction cup attached to the dashboard, or the windshield. What is more, portable GPS navigators are powered from a cigarette lighter adapter via a micro USB cable. Although, a GPS navigation device features a built-in battery, which provides autonomous operation for some time. Regarding the installable GPS navigation devices, they are produced as traditional car radio tape recorders with GPS navigation and fitted with a center console with a radio slot. On the contrary, they are powered from the in-vehicle electric circuit. Accordingly, it's hardly possible to install a car GPS navigation system properly without the help of a specialist. Besides, these GPS navigation devices cannot be mounted on another vehicle. Also, GPS navigators can be classified into subtypes according to their screen resolution. For instance, GPS navigation devices with large screens (5" and more) are designed to be used in cars while GPS navigators with smaller screens (4" or less) can also be used for hiking and the devices with average screen sizes (from 4" to 5") are designed for both. It should also be mentioned that large-screen GPS navigators provide more readable information and higher image detail.

Maps and Navigation Software

Another important feature that should be considered is surely maps and navigation software, including navigation apps, operating system, and map software packages. Typically, GPS navigation units are supplied with map software packages for proper operation. Therefore, even if you know exactly your current coordinates, it will hardly help navigate a route until it's loaded. For this very reason, before making a purchase, you should be aware of the features of standard maps and make sure they include all towns and districts you need.

Functionality

The final criterion you should bear in mind is the functionality. Modern advanced GPS navigation systems come with a large number of extras. If you have an idea about additional features your device offers, it gives multiple opportunities for its use. Apart from navigation, the device can be used as the music/video/photo player. Usually, medium and high-class GPS navigators support all popular media formats (JPEG, MP3, AVI). This can be useful when you stuck in a massive traffic jam. You can listen to your favourite music or watch an interesting movie, whiling away some time with pleasure. In fact, you can even upload movies on its microSD card. The majority of cutting-edge GPS navigation units are fitted with a standard USB port so that you are able to connect a USB flash drive to your device. Moreover, GPS navigators feature a built-in FM transmitter, which broadcasts audio to your car radio. Besides, some GPS devices are provided with backup cameras that display an image directly on the navigation screen. The importance of a backup camera cannot be overestimated since this handy feature makes parking on narrow streets much easier and more convenient. Even though your car navigator comes without a backup camera, you can buy it separately and easily install on your vehicle. However, make sure that your navigation system is equipped with a standard video input. By the way, the device supports video cameras or portable DVD-players. Furthermore, some GPS navigators come with a Hands-free Calling function, which can be easily paired with your phone via Bluetooth wireless technology. This function will be useful especially for those car owners who dislike using standard behind-the-ear (BTE) devices.

Did you know?

The first prototypes of modern navigation systems were developed during the World War II.

People have learned to identify positions of objects of interest a long time ago. However, if modern GPS systems are aimed at making human life easier, their invention during the World War II was a necessary measure to provide superiority over military adversaries. The first navigation systems were called GEE, LORAN, and Decca. GEE was developed in the United Kingdom and was used by Royal Air Force to provide safety of military operations during the night. The operation range of this system was 560 kilometres. LORAN means "long-range navigation" and it was yet another system developed during the World War II. Unlike the navigation system described above, LORAN was an American invention, yet, very similar in its operation method to the GEE system. The major difference between them was that LORAN had a longer operation range – up to 2400 kilometres. The Decca Navigator System was created in collaboration between the USA and the United Kingdom and used a different system to determine the position of necessary objects. Thanks to the appearance of these very gadgets and their further development, we’ve got modern electronic navigation systems that make our trips to the new places safer and easier.

It took the first navigation systems more than 40 years to become available for civilian use.

As it was already mentioned, the first GPS devices were created during the World War II for military purposes only. A long time after the war they were still used in the military sphere. Only in 1983, an American president Ronald Reagan gave an order to make GPS data available for civilian use. This decision was made after a tragedy when Korean flight entered Soviet airspace and was shot down by Soviet Union forces killing almost 300 people. Ever since then, airlines, ships, and other means of transportation started to use GPS data to navigate their route and prevent possible hazards.

GPS gadgets are used not only to identify your position or show you the way.

Any GPS system gets the information it transmits to your gadget from satellites. And every satellite has an atomic clock that shows the exact time. Once your GPS device connects to a satellite, it also gets information on a current time with the precision of 1/100 billion seconds. Thanks to this very feature, your GPS device, a gadget synchronized with it, or your smartphone (that gets information from satellites too, by the way) always show the right time.

GPS and navigation systems will develop further.

There’s no need to mention that every technology in the modern world is developing in order to become even better with time, and GPS is definitely one of them. Nowadays, there are 24 American satellites on the Earth orbit that help us navigate necessary routes from almost any corner of the world. However, the USA scientists aren’t going to stop and plan to launch a new satellite by the end of 2020. What is more, other countries strive to develop their own satellite navigation systems. Thanks to this tendency, we’ll have the opportunity to use extremely precise navigation systems that will be able to guide us even though the narrowest streets of the smallest cities. The development of GPS will also be more than useful for auto-pilot cars and accurate cell phone connection.

FAQ:

Q: How do navigation systems work?
A: Global Positioning Systems have built-in or external antennas that receive signals from satellites (usually several at a time) and analyse your location and your point of destination. Then (the process takes no more than a few seconds), your navigation system depicts the necessary information in a way familiar to you – on built-in maps on its screen.

Q: Why might I need a navigation system with maps of numerous countries if I don’t travel abroad?
A: Let’s start with the fact that modern navigation systems offer you a lot of maps on different continents so that you don’t have to buy a new gadget for a new country or pay for additional maps. Even if you don’t travel to foreign countries, having a GPS navigator comes in handy if you tend to drive a lot in your own city. Navigation systems can show you the exact maps as well as offer you the shortest routes and inform you about any traffic jams. You have to admit that knowing this information, even a trip to your office can become more efficient and pleasant. Additionally, GPS can help you learn the speed limits in different areas of your city and park your car effortlessly.

Q: How do I tell my GPS navigator my point of destination?
A: There is nothing difficult in telling your GPS navigator where you want to go because of a couple of reasons. First of all, modern navigation systems are made with a user in mind and have a user-friendly interface. Secondly, one GPS device can usually offer you several ways to search for your point of destination. The most common way is to simply select it from the list of countries, cities, and streets. Or, you can use a postcode search if your gadget supports this option. Finally, the latest navigation systems are compatible with Siri and Google Now services that can recognize voice commands so all you need to do to is tell your gadget where you want to go.

Q: Why might I want to choose a navigation system with a voice guidance option?
A: Voice guidance option can make your trip a bit more convenient since you won't have to look at the GPS screen distracting you from the road. Since a voice guidance option simply repeats the information you can see on the screen, it’s possible for you to follow your route listening to the smart guide. And if your navigation system can speak, it’s likely that it can also read your smartphone messages for some additional convenience.

Q: What is the best double din navigation system?
A: Before answering this question, let’s find out what a double din navigation system actually is. It is an in-dash gadget that can perform numerous functions, in other words, it is a mini computer in your car. As a rule, all double din systems are equipped with maps and can serve as navigation systems. But you can do much more with such a gadget. The majority of them can function as multimedia players, Internet browsers, organizers, etc. Some models come with built-in rear-view cameras that help you park your vehicle effortlessly. If you’re looking for the best double din navigation system, you want to pay attention to its processor, operating system, and a number of functions it can perform.

Sources:

1. How to Choose the Best Car GPS Navigation. wikiHow.

2. Jeremy Laukkonen How to Choose Car GPS, Lifewire. October 19, 2016.

3. Dominic DeVito Portable GPS Navigator Buying Guide, Crutchfield.

4. GPS Buying Guide, Consumer Reports. August 2016.

5. Julia Eddington How to Choose a Navigation System for Your Car, quoted. October 11, 2016.

6. GPS Navigation Buying Guide, Abt.

7. Denis Gallagher Car GPS Navigation Buying Guide, Choice. October 5, 2017.

8. GPS Navigation Buying Guide, Harvey Norman.

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Publish Date: 2017-12-15 17:15:24