The best navigation devices

Most people who are looking for directions today no longer use the folding maps of yesteryear, but are navigated instead – either by smartphone or by navigation system. In cars in particular, navigation devices are still welcome companions.

Navigation devices not only show us the way, they also help us avoid traffic jams and road works with the help of live data. But which models can we really trust as car, motorcycle or bicycle drivers? atechbook has picked out the best navigation devices.

What must navigation devices be able to do?

For a navigation device to work as accurately as possible, it always needs up-to-date map material. Especially if the device has been with the seller for a long time, it may already be out of date at the time of purchase or shortly thereafter. Therefore: update regularly! But even current content can deviate from reality if, for example, an accident causes a traffic jam or the complete closure of a road. A good navigation system must be able to react to this in real time. For motorcycle navigation systems: Can it be operated easily with gloves? Is it rainproof? And like their colleagues, non-motorcycle enthusiasts also want to drive routes for the sake of driving. These must therefore be plannable, but also allow for spontaneous changes of direction.

The test winner: Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Digital Traffic for cars

The navigation device with its large, frameless 6.95-inch multitouch glass display (17.7 cm) shows maps and directions in high-resolution – a valuable feature, especially in convoluted areas where a wrong move can be your undoing. With detailed maps of 46 European countries, many buildings and terrain features in 3D as well as TripAdvisor POIs, the test winner from Stiftung Warentest not only reliably takes you to your destination – but also right into the middle of life! Including map updates via the integrated WLAN, so that you are not standing with diving equipment in a parking lot where there was just a lake.

React in real time: with Live Traffic traffic info via the Garmin Drive app and Premium Traffic via DAB+, you have every traffic obstruction on the screen almost before it even occurs. The resulting time loss is displayed as well as alternative routes. In addition, the Garmin DriveSmart 65 navigator also warns you of sharp curves, railroad crossings, deer crossing or similar potential sources of danger. And so that you don’t become one yourself, you operate the GPS navigation device from Garmin via voice control.

Features Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Digital Traffic

Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Digital Traffic
Product type Car navi
Display Display size: 6.95 inches / 17.65 cm
Display resolution: 1024 × 600 pixels
Display type: multitouch, glass display, kapazitiv
Connections Reception of traffic reports via DAB+, smartphone
Connections: USB
Wireless connections: Bluetooth, WLAN
Navigation features Navi control: Touchscreen, voice command
Route guidance: Avoid obstructions/congestion, points of interest (POI).
Voice output: Street name announcement (Text To Speech)
Maps Included map material: Europe
Map update: Lifetime
Features Services: Live Service, map update via WLAN, Foursquare
Traffic info from: Here Live Traffic

Advantages and disadvantages Garmin DriveSmart 65 & Digital Traffic

Rating by Stiftung Warentest: Test winner (good / grade 1.8)

Pro

  • + voice control
  • + Large display
  • + Very good workmanship

Contra

  • – Complicated synchronization with WLAN
  • – Complicated synchronization with Apple products

The whistleblower: TomTom Go Discover 7″ for the car.

Actually almost equal to the test winner at Stiftung Warentest, the navigation device TomTom Go Discover 7″ leaves nothing to be desired. Precise TomTom world maps know where to go – and can be updated quickly and without additional costs via WLAN. TomTom Traffic records and evaluates according to its own data daily 3.5 billion real kilometers driven worldwide – so you can avoid traffic jams and save time and fuel. A large 7-inch display and a clear speaker provide clear route guidance. Thanks to live information on fuel prices, you save money. The navigation device TomTom GO Discover finds the cheapest prices and the best gas stations along the route. Once you have arrived at your destination, the navigation device informs you about the availability of parking garages and their capacity.

Features TomTom Go Discover 7″

TomTom Go Discover 7
Product type Car navi
Display Display size: 7 inch / 17,78 cm
Display resolution: 1280 × 800 pixels
Display type: TFT display, touchscreen
Connections Wireless connections: WLAN
Navigation features Navi control: Voice command
Route guidance: Points of Interest (POI), speed assistant.
Maps Included maps: World, 3D maps
Features Extra lane assistant
Traffic info from TomTom Traffic
Battery life: 2 h

Advantages and disadvantages TomTom Go Discover 7″.

Rating by Stiftung Warentest: good/grade 1.8

Pro

  • + Very good touchscreen
  • + Fast route calculation

Contra

  • – No built-in SIM card
  • – Error-prone when connecting cell phones via Bluetooth

The all-rounder: Garmin Zumo XT for motorcycles

The Garmin Zumo XT navigation device is specially designed for motorcycle rides. It can be used all-terrain and the maps for all of Europe are already pre-installed (updates are free). In addition, Garmin Adventurous Routing is included, which allows you to choose between winding and mountainous tours. You can track your own routes, save them and then share them with friends. The 1280 × 720 pixel resolution is readable by day, night and precipitation, and the display can be operated with gloves in both portrait and landscape mode.

The Garmin Zumo XT doesn’t need to fear rain, its casing is absolutely waterproof. The battery lasts up to 6 hours or up to 3.5 hours at 100 percent illumination. Garmin’s mount allows the device to be attached to the handlebar. The hands-free function ensures more safety; when paired with the smartphone, you can thus take phone calls. If there is an accident, the navigation device notifies a previously stored contact person by SMS.

Features Garmin Zumo XT

Garmin Zumo XT
Product type Motorcycle navi
Display Display size: 5.5 inch / 13.97 cm
Display resolution: 1280 × 720 pixels
Display type: multitouch, glass display
Connections GNSS: GPS, Glonass, Galileo
Navigation features Navi control: Touchscreen, mit Handschuhen bedienbar
Route guidance: Points of Interest (POI)
Maps Included maps: Europe
Map update: Lifetime
Features Battery life: 6 h
Waterproof (IPX7)
Battery: Lithium-ion

Advantages and disadvantages Garmin Zumo XT

Rating at autobild.de: Comparison winner (very good)

Pro

  • + Can also be operated well with gloves
  • + Very bright and large display

Contra

  • – Impractical mount
  • – No anti-theft device

The responsive one: TomTom Rider 500 for motorcycle

Das Motorcycle navigationsgerät TomTom Rider 500 Europa verfügt über einen 4,3 Zoll großen Touchscreen und zeichnet sich durch ein hohes Rechentempo aus. In ihm arbeitet nämlich ein schneller Quad-Core-Prozessor, der Routen innerhalb kürzester Zeit auswirft. Selbst wenn man falsch abbiegt, reagiert das System innerhalb weniger Sekunden und leitet einen wieder auf den richtigen Weg. Dank der über die gesamte Gerätelebensdauer kostenlos (und via WLAN schnell) zu beziehenden Maps-Updates für insgesamt 48 europäische Länder und der schnellen Routenberechnung ist man mit dem Modell TomTom Rider 500 Europa stets auf der richtigen Fahrspur. Auch die Akkulaufzeit von 6 Stunden ist ein Pluspunkt.

Equipment TomTom Rider 500

TomTom Rider 500
Product type Motorcycle navi
Display Display size: 4.3 inch / 10.92 cm
Display resolution: 480 × 272 pixels
Connections Reception of traffic reports via smartphone
Connections: USB
Wireless connections: Bluetooth, WLAN
Navigation features Navi control: Touchscreen
Route guidance: vehicle-specific route guidance
Voice output: Street name announcement (Text To Speech)
Maps Included map material: Central Europe
Map update: Lifetime
Features Extra: Offline route planning
Services: Traffic jam detector, compatible with Google Now, compatible with Siri, speed camera warner
Traffic info from TomTom Traffic
Battery life: 6 h
Waterproof (IPX7)

Advantages and disadvantages TomTom Rider 500

Rating at autobild.de: price-performance winner (very good)

Pro

  • + Long battery life
  • + Fast WLAN updates

Contra

  • – No TMC information
  • – Relatively weak display resolution

The safety expert: Garmin Edge Explore for bikes

The Edge Explore navigation device from Garmin is particularly aimed at touring cyclists. You can plan a circular route directly on the device, which saves you from having to plan it on a PC beforehand and then export it. Orientation points for the route can be marked and connected directly on the imported map of Europe. A total of 100 routes can be saved in this way for repeated driving. A GPS/GLONASS receiver is built in to locate the current position and measure the route data. This allows you to navigate safely through the terrain even without an Internet connection. A special feature is the option to couple certain phone numbers with the integrated motion sensor. In the event of a fall, the exact position is then sent to the specified numbers. If the fall is not serious, the notification process can be canceled within a short period of time. The bike navigation device also offers features like fitness tracking, but only via a smartphone connection.

Features Garmin Edge Explore

Garmin Edge Explore
Product type Bike nav
Display Display size: 3 inch / 7.62 cm
Display resolution: 240 × 400 pixels
Connections Connections: USB
Drahtlose Connections: Bluetooth, ANT+
Navigation features Navi control: Touchscreen
Route guidance: Route by time or distance, route on circuit, road navigation
Extras: online capable, G-sensor, emergency function
Number of waypoints: 200
Number of routes: 100
Maps Included map material: bicycle map Europe
Features Values that can be shown on the display: Heart rate, cadence, speed
Waterproof (IPX7)
Scope of delivery: bike holder, user manual, USB cable
116 g

Advantages and disadvantages Garmin Edge Explore

Rating by computerbild.de: Comparison winner (buy tip)

Pro

  • + Routes can be saved on the integrated Europe map directly on the device
  • + Fitness tracking via ANT+

Contra

  • – Poor user guidance
  • -Standard mount takes up a lot of space

The precise: Garmin Edge 530 for bikes

The Garmin Edge 530 model is a bike computer with satellite navigation. It offers special performance analysis and fast route calculation. On the device, equipped with a 2.6-inch display (246 × 322 pixels), a European cycling map with 100 routes and 200 waypoints is installed as standard. This can be used to display or retrace saved routes. Optical and acoustic turn-by-turn instructions can be activated for navigation. There is also a warning before sharp turns. Precise satellite positioning is ensured by the support of no less than three systems: GPS, Galileo and Glonass. In addition to route guidance, the navigation device offers numerous fitness analyses and training programs. For example, it can be coupled with various additional sensors via ANT+ standard and record data such as heart rate or cadence.

Equipment of the Garmin Edge 530

Garmin Edge 530
Product type Bike nav
Display Display size: 2.6 inch / 6.6 cm
Display resolution: 246 × 322 pixels
Connections Connections: USB
Wireless connections: Bluetooth, ANT+, WLAN, BLE
Navigation features GNSS: GPS, Glonass, Galileo
Navi control: manual input
Route guidance: road navigation
Extras: barometric altimeter, G-sensor, compass, training programs, accident notification
Number of waypoints: 200
Number of routes: 100
Maps Included map materials: bike map Europe, base map
Features Battery life: 20 h
Values that can be shown on the display: activity times, speed, heart rate, altitude, riding time, date, cadence, temperature, time, path length
Waterproof (IPX7)
Included: Aero mount, USB cable, user manual, mount, mounting strap
75,8 g

Advantages and disadvantages Garmin Edge 530

Rating at computerbild.de: 2nd in the comparison

Pro

  • + Precise satellite positioning
  • + Fast route calculation
  • + Special performance analysis
  • + Warning of sharp turns

Contra

  • – Poor user-friendliness

Nobody needs a portable navigator in the car!

Conclusion

Garmin or TomTom: This question has almost taken on a religious dimension for many navigation system users. Two brands, two camps, two ideologies – which side you choose ultimately depends on questions of detail. Which software update has brought improvements, where are the same mistakes made again and again? In the end, the price-performance ratio wins out.

More articles worth reading about navigation systems

  • Stiftung Warentest – Navigation devices versus smartphone apps
  • Navigation app “what3words” in the test
  • Navigation app “Mapstr” in test

Still not enough about navigation devices? The editorial team at atechbook has compiled a number of other exciting and helpful articles dealing with digital signposts.