YOU make it, so you might as well spend it – here are five gadgets we’ve got our eyes on. You know your commission is burning a hole in your pocket…
Garmin Nuvi 710
Contact: www.garmin.co.uk, 023 8052 4000
NO-ONE likes being stuck in a traffic jam, especially one that could have been avoided if you’d known it was there! Garmin’s Nuvi 710 features an FM TMC receiver that picks up snarl-up alerts and lets you navigate around them. On-screen graphics tell you how many minutes you’ll be delayed for if you carry on, letting you make the decision to reroute for yourself.
We’ve extensively tested the 710 over a week-long road trip around the UK and found it worked well. Destinations are simple to input, both via postcode and full address, and directions are given in good time. We did find that in some built-up cities, the on-screen graphics were occasionally a little lacking in detail though. The software zips along quickly and we love the ‘Where Am I’ function that can point you to the nearest petrol station, hospital and restaurants, among others.
The 710 has a host of other useful features too, including an FM transmitter to stream MP3 tracks stored on its memory to your car stereo, a wide 4.3-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth handsfree kit, picture viewing software and speed camera locations.
Any problems? Well, a couple of times it was a little slow to pick up a satellite signal leaving us in the lurch in the middle of Leeds, and not being able to mute the speed camera alerts is a real annoyance. However, compared to rivals the user-friendly Garmin interface and the fact it works straight out of the box are real plus points.
Princeton Tec Apex
Contact: 0800 66 54 10, www.blacks.co.uk
WHEN you’re trying to fix something under the bonnet you need both hands free. Holding a torch in one hand, or worse your mouth, makes repairs far harder than they need to be – which is why you need this handy headlamp.
The Princeton Tec Apex is superbly made and attaches to your head with an easily-adjustable elastic strap. What’s more it’s packed with a host of clever technologies, including a microprocessor that constantly regulates output for optimum battery life to give an impressive 200 hours’ of light from four AA cells.
Light comes courtesy of five long-lasting LEDs: two 5mm units are placed either side of the main ‘spotter’ LED. Both the outside and inside ones can be controlled separately with four different output levels available – including an emergency blinking mode. The rear battery pack even features a battery level indicator, so you won’t get caught out with no power at the roadside. The Tec Apex is waterproof to one metre and comes in olive, orange or black.
Contact: 01793 870400, www.clarion.co.uk
COULD this be the end of the in-car CD player? Clarion’s latest car stereo doesn’t even come with a slot to play compact discs. Instead, the unit uses Bluetooth streaming from your mobile phone to play tracks or you can insert an SD memory card instead.
The FB278RBT connects to your mobile phone via the wireless technology so you can access the music stored on your handset, and it’ll let you make and receive calls handsfree on the go too. If you don’t have a Bluetooth phone you can listen to digital MP3 tracks stored on an SD memory card by flipping down the control panel and slotting it in. The new stereo supports ID3-TAG information so will display track information on its colour screen.
Also included is an 18-station preset FM radio with RDS and EON, an auxiliary input and 4×50 watts of power. The smart ‘metal shark’ design is highlighted by soft lighting that illuminates each of the fins, as well as the central volume control.
Snooper S280 Sapphire Plus
Contact: 0870 787 0700, www.snooperuk.com
If you’re partial to a bit of putting, you’ll know it’s a great way to ease away the stresses of modern motoring. Snooper’s latest sat nav and speed camera detector aims to get you to those unfamiliar golf courses without getting lost or a ticket. And what’s more, when you get there it’ll give you a heads up on the holes you’ll be playing too!
The S280 Sapphire Plus has access to information on more than 2,000 golf courses across Europe with its Golf Pro Shot Saver software. Users can download detailed information on their chosen courses – up to 100 at a time – and they’ll then get stats, such as distances to pins, bunkers and lakes, as they play the course.
Ok, so the golfing function won’t be something every driver uses, but the Sapphire Plus is packed with other goodies too. The palm-sized multipurpose navigator also boasts sat nav, speed camera alerts, MP3 music player with the
ability to display videos, as well as digital photo software.
The 2.7-inch colour monitor has a touch-screen display and the mapping software can search for destinations via postcode as well as full addresses. Directions are given verbally and matched with on-screen icons, and to keep the unit compact the GPS satellite antenna has been stashed away inside the unit. The Sapphire also has a 256mb memory, 64mb memory card and comes with a rechargeable battery.
Laser Pressure Washer
Contact: 01926 815000, www.lasertools.co.uk
USING a pressure washer to clean your car is the easiest way to blast away grime, but what if you’ve got nowhere to plug it in? This clever idea from Laser Tools solves the problem as it plugs straight into your car’s 12v cigar lighter socket. It’s ideal for larger forecourts where it can be difficult to run a power cable.
The compact unit stores away inside a 22-litre box, that doubles up as the water tank. Simply fill it up and run the suction hose into it and away you go. Alternatively you can take water direct from a stream or river. Water is pumped out with 8bar of pressure and it can churn through 25 litres per hour.
The flexible hose is 4.5m long, so can easily reach around your car, and the nozzle is adjustable so the spray can be tailored to your needs. The unit would easily fit in a car boot and is simple to get up and running in minutes.