I’ve banged on before about how I love my Nokia E71, even though I was anti-Nokia in the past. Well I thought it was time to see if the Sat Nav facility of my new phone would serve as a replacement for my ageing Tom Tom One.

I did try using it a few weeks ago, but the instructions came too late as to be of any use and I spent more time turning around to follow the route. I put this down to my wife holding the phone nowhere near the car windows and there being a bit of a delay in the signal caused by the constant resending of corrupt data. This time I got a proper windscreen mount for the phone to eliminate this problem.

The trip was from Coventry to Cranleigh, one I’d done a few times before – but I usually get lost in Guildford so this would actually be working for real rather than just testing it’s route planning ability. All was well until we got to Guildford. The instructions were still not coming quick enough in a built up area and I missed the first turning when I left the A3. Relying on the GPS’ recalculation facility I drove on in to the centre of Guildford only for the signal to be lost. How can the signal be lost, I had five bars of signal strength? Anyway, manually reclaulating the route didn’t help and I had to resort to pulling over, rebooting the phone and starting a new route from Guildford to Cranleigh which it completed faultlessly. However, this was most inconvenient and something I’d never had to do with my stalwart Tom Tom.

On the way back to Ormskirk from Cranleigh I thought I’d use the the Sat Nav to give it a third try at impressing me. If nothing else, it would route me around traffic problems – something it has failed to do as it led me into a jam on the M25 on the downward leg of the journey, despite proclaiming several times that it had downloaded the latest traffic information and optimised the route. Give it it’s due, it had changed the route as our exit off the M40 changed three times – but why take me straight into a jam it knew about. Anyway…

On the return route it gave me all the reassuring messages about updating the traffic information and optimising the route every so often and then we started seeing the signs on the overhead stantions saying the junctions 4 to 6 of the M6 were shut. I don’t know where these junctions are so assumed that they didn’t affect us and that I’d continue straight up the M40 to the M6, turn left and head north. That’s what the Sat Nav would lead me to believe anyway as there was every indication we were joing the M42 eastbound.

As we drew up to the M42 we were still seeing these warnings and then one which said that North West bound drivers should join the M42 Westward, take the M5 and then join the M6. Not a peep out of the Sat Nav though – despite all it’s assurances that it was ahead of the game with the traffic it was taking us blindly to a junction on the M6 that was shut and which would cause us to continue to the unneccesarily expensive M6 Toll Road.

Taking matters in to my own hand I went west and headed towards the M5 and that’s when  the Sat Nav went in to a sulk and didn’t come around again until we were just about to join the M6, probably because that was on it’s original route. Sensing that I’d ignored its instruction to take the M42 East and gone West, it went west and displayed nothing but an arrow which varied in direction as I took various turns in the road. There was no attempt to recalculate the route based on the unprompted change of route I had chosen, my Tom Tom would have done this in seconds. Manual recalculations resulted in nothing either – just this arrow telling me I was no longer obey it and I should be going in the opposite direction as per it’s original route.

I wasn’t going to pull over and reboot the phone again, entering the route to my home from wherever I was on the M42, so I waited to see if it did come out of it’s strop. As stated earlier, it did as I neared the M6 which was on it’s original route.

What a poor showing. It loses it’s signal when there’s a perfectly good signal in a town centre, where you need directions the most, and stops talking to you if you make an change in direction that it hasn’t sanctioned. there’s nothing for it, I’m going to have to spend £50 updating the maps in my Tom Tom.

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