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Don't Buy sat navs

by Hannah Walsh

Don’t Buy sat navs are tricky to read and take an age to recalculate your route. Most importantly, they can be the difference between reaching your destination and getting lost on the way.

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Sat navs and sat nav smartphone apps are supposed to make getting from A to B simpler. 

But if you end up with a Don’t Buy model you could find yourself driving around in circles trying to figure out which way to go. Our extensive tests identify these useless time wasters, so you know which models to avoid, and the Best Buy sat navs you should choose instead.

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What makes a Don't Buy sat nav

Using a terrible sat nav makes you feel like you’re trying to decipher an A to Z from the 80s. Cramped, overly busy maps make finding your route within the spaghetti jumble of roads a challenge. Relying on vocal prompts can be a problem, too. Commands that are spoken too quickly or instructions that aren’t clear enough can lead to dangerous last-minute turns and lane changes.

Route recalculation can also be very slow with a Don’t Buy sat nav, which isn’t good considering the amount of wrong turns you’re likely to make. Useful features may be absent, too. Maps and local points of interest you can access without using a smartphone can be a big benefit if you’re abroad, driving somewhere new, or have a poor mobile signal.

With such a wide choice of dedicated sat nav devices, as well as scores of free and paid-for navigation apps, it can be difficult to make an informed decision. That’s where our expert testing can help you choose a sat nav that will keep you heading in the right direction.

Unique sat nav testing

We test sat navs from leading brands such as Garmin and TomTom  as well as smartphone apps for iOS and Android from Apple, Google and Waze. Smartphone apps and dedicated sat navs go through the same rigorous tests so you can be confident the scores we give them are comparable – here are a few examples of the lengths we go to:

  • We test all the key navigation features, from how quickly the device calculates and recalculates routes to its pronunciation of street names.
  • We test every sat nav and app using a GPS simulator to replicate driving a set route including minor and major roads as well as a variety of junctions and roundabouts.
  • We are completely impartial. It doesn’t matter if the sat nav is from a leading brand or a new company on the block, we put each one through the same tough tests.

To find out which sat navs are Don’t Buys and which are Best Buys, join Which?.