Road Angel Navigator 7000

Road Angel NavigatorGPS units are a lot like laptop computers. Short of a few essential numbers on the side of the box they all do the same job, and the choice comes down to what you’re willing to pay and your aesthetic preferences.

The Navigator 7000 is a combination of the usual in-car GPS and what RoadAngel call RoadSense, a series of safety warnings about red light cameras, school zones, speed warnings, etc.

The last RoadAngel device The West reviewed containing only the RoadSense warning system was awful. It beeped, shrieked and squealed a cacophony of alerts, some of which meant nothing and all of which made us want to throw it off the Narrows Bridge.

So we reluctantly agreed to look at the Navigator 7000, which combines a GPS direction finder with onboard RoadSense warnings.

As with most Australian GPS units, it comes loaded with Sensis streetmap data, and after a few hitches it pinpointed our location fairly quickly. It was less successful directing us the best way. Driving towards Welshpool on the Graeme Farmer Freeway it insisted we do a U turn on Orrong Road and return to use the Great Eastern highway to travel East, in just one example.

By comparison, the RoadSense safety data is accurate, but after handing over $1,000 for the unit, RoadSense is subscription based for $10 a month after the first three months. What the cost factor amounts to is this; do you need a machine to tell you you’re speeding or coming up to a red light camera, much less one that costs you $10 a month?

If we instead assume you only want a GPS device there are better models around for the price. Firstly the Navigator 7000 feels and looks too small on the inside of your windscreen. As if they somehow agreed, RoadAngel have included a plastic stylus to manipulate onscreen settings and instructions.

As you soon come to realise, the stylus is disconcertingly essential. The menus and settings are very hard to navigate through. Nothing is located or marked so as to make it obvious. To even turn the volume up or down mid-travel leads you through a complicated path down into the software’s innards.

Updating the system through your computer is done with Window’s ActiveSync software — a program that’s been superseded in Windows Vista. We took Microsoft’s advice and downloaded the mobile connectivity utility that’s replaced ActiveSync and it didn’t detect the Navigator. The only other option to update is via Bluetooth from your mobile, and depending on your plan that can get expensive so do your homework first.

GPS units have gone beyond the novelty of a friendly voice telling us where to go, and they need to offer more to stand out from the pack. The Navigator 7000 is an earnest attempt with the inclusion of the RoadSense safety feature, $120 a year for extra warning of danger spots might well be worth it to some.

But GPS vendors are also at the mercy of Sensis, who like all data providers consider Perth the last place in Australia to get right. Such an ‘all-roads-lead-to-St-Georges-Terrace’ approach makes any GPS unit a less attractive proposition on our coast, and for that reason, they need to offer WA users more. The Navigator 7000 doesn’t.