Best Sat Nav 2017: Navigation and GPS Gadgets For Driving


Getting lost while driving is a thing of the past thanks to the miracle of satellite navigation. Many cars have built-in sat navs, but millions still don’t. These days you can pick up a very basic sat nav for under £100, but with free or cheap smartphone apps to guide you, why bother with a dedicated GPS device? Here we explain which are the best satnavs you can buy in the UK in 2017.

Do you need a satnav?

With satnav being part of virtually every smartphone on sale today, you’d be forgiven for wondering why anyone would buy a dedicated device.

But, before you go down the smartphone route, standalone satnavs still have several advantages. First, they’re dedicated. It might sound obvious, but think about it: it does one job. No distractions such as phone calls, texts or notifications and no power worries. 

Dedicated devices tend to have more options and features, and most have a matte screen that isn’t reflective like a smartphone. Plus, you can lend a satnav to someone. You can’t if it’s also your phone.

Another advantage of satnavs concerns map data. With a smartphone app, either the maps are stored locally at the expense of a chunk of your phone’s storage, or they’re downloaded on the fly which means using up your monthly data.

With a dedicated unit, all your maps are stored locally in memory that you don’t need to free up for other purposes. Plus, if you’re driving in an area with poor mobile coverage, you might find yourself stranded with no map at all, while a dedicated sat nav always has its map data.

That said, smartphones can be great satnavs and some will still prefer them. You’ll need to buy a mount for your car, though (see our favourites by clicking here). You’ll also want a USB adaptor that plugs into your car (if it doesn’t already have a USB port built in).

You’ll also want a USB adaptor that plugs into your car (if it doesn’t already have a USB port built in). You can use the smartphone’s battery, but using the GPS reciever and screen for a few hours contiuously can easily drain a fully charged phone.

What to look for when buying a satnav

It isn’t enough for a satnav to tick all the boxes for the features you’re after. It’s how they work in practice that counts. For example, any satnav worth its salt will have a points of interest database which includes car parks, petrol stations, hotels, cafes, cash points and more.

But is the information any good? Can the satnav intelligently list potential points of interest based on your route, or does it merely list them based on distance as the crow flies?

And as well as speed warnings, another feature that will make your journey easier is lane guidance, so you don’t accidentally leave the motorway at the wrong junction. Some satnavs even go as far as to show you a photo-realistic view of the junction to help you know where to turn.

Free map updates are worth seeking out when buying a new standalone satnav, as paid-for map updates can be almost as much as buying a new satnav in some cases.

Finally, if you’re buying a standalone satnav or paying for an app, make sure you get the maps you need. If you drive to Europe, it’s worth spending the extra £30 or so on maps of Western Europe as adding individual country maps can be costly.

Now, here are our four favourite dedicated sat nav units currently on sale in the UK.

Also see: Best Gadget Deals

Garmin nuvi 57LM

TomTom Start 25

TomTom Start 25

TomTom GO 5100

TomTom GO 5100

Garmin nuvi 2699LMT-D

Garmin nuvi 2699LMT-D

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