Road Angel Compact Review
The Road Angel Compact is clearly and literally a more Compact
version of it’s stablemate the New Road Angel.
Opening the box
As well as the Road Angel Compact you get a Quick start
guide, a bag with bits and pieces for attaching to the windscreen or the
dashboard, the windscreen mounting bracket and the power lead for the
The first thing you notice about the Road Angel Compact
is that it is quite compact so it is aptly named. It has a silver coloured
facia with 3 buttons and a small speaker on the left of the display. The
silver part of the facia is a soft touch material. The display is an LCD
panel about 1.5” diagonal. The buttons which are also the same silver
soft touch material are labelled Menu, Delete and Store.
The top of the unit has a slight overhang above the
LCD panel to help avoid Sun glare. The overhang has a couple of small
mouldings for the optional laser detector. On the rear there are 2 connections,
one is the mini USB connector for the power supply and the other is the
auxiliary port for the laser detector. On the right hand side is the port
for an extension antenna if one should be needed.
Using the Road
We mounted the bracket onto the windscreen with the suckers and brought
the power lead through the back of the bracket to plug into the port on
the back of the Compact. The Compact has a magnetic base and so sits quite
firmly on the bracket but there is also a rubber attachment for the bracket
to secure the Compact.
Once the power lead is plugged into the unit it powers up with a digital
voice that says “Road Angel”, it then goes to a red screen
asking you to register the device with Blackspot. You can get rid of this
by pushing one of the buttons. You immediately get an image of a satellite
with a bar across showing that it doesn’t yet have 3 satellites
locked on. When it does acquire at least 3 satellites (which took about
60 seconds on this first power up) the screen will change to blue, the
standard display is your road speed, a digital clock, the GPS signal strength
and whether you are in mph or kph. The clock can be changed for a digital
compass via the menu.
Driving down the road the speed display changes as you
would expect, but there is a difference between the Road Angel Compact
and the car speedometer, which is a bit inaccurate by a few miles per
hour, at 30mph on the GPS the car is reading around 33mph.
The display is very clear and bright and the contrast is good enough to
be seen even in direct sunlight.
Turning onto a road that has one of the local Gatso
cameras the Compact immediately bursts into life, having turned onto the
road we were immediately within the Compact’s set range (changeable
between 250m, 500m or 1000m).
We get a digital voice that warns us of the approaching speedtrap saying
“Warning fixed safety camera.”
The screen display changes from blue to red and there is a graphic of
a Gatso camera and the vehicle speed indication moves over to the right
to make room for it. The image of the Gatso camera then starts to alternate
with an image of a speed limit sign showing 30 in a circle. This is the
advisory speed limit on the road. There is also a bar graph going up the
left hand side showing the proximity to the speedtrap. As we get closer
to the Gatso camera the bar graph gets higher but more importantly the
frequency of the beeps increases until you get on top of the Gatso when
it goes quiet.
We found that we could set the options so that the beeps disappear if
you drop below 15 mph. As there is no way you’ll get a ticket below
15 miles per hour on normal roads this is a useful feature for instance
if you are at a set of traffic lights with a speedtrap on the other side,
it won’t be blaring at you if you are stood still.
The other features of the Road Angel Compact include :
Temporary speed cameras such as road works, or Speedmaster locations.
SPECS cameras which calculate your average speed over a given distance
between 2 or more cameras.
Blackspot warnings, which are designated by the Police and local authorities.
School zones for primary schools.
London or other congestion charging zones.
Overspeed warning, this is useful if you want to be alerted or reminded
if you go over a certain speed, for instance if you want to be reminded
if you go over 70mph on a motorway you can set it to 70 and that is exactly
what it will do.
All of these warnings can be configured to be on or
off and some have individual volume settings as well which can be individually
configured to your own preference.
Other things that you can set/alter include personal locations, which
you can store by pressing the ‘Store’ button. You can also
delete locations for instance if there is a speedtrap at the end of your
road and you don’t want the Compact going off every time you set
off for work or come home at night.
You can mute the sound at any warning by pressing either the Menu or Store
button. Normal operation resumes at the next warning. You can also mute
the device all together by pressing the Menu button for 2 seconds while
in standby mode. Doing this again will restore the sound warnings. One
thing of note is that there are 2 indentations on the back of the unit,
one either side, these are useful when pushing the buttons for steadying
the device with your fingers around the back and your thumb pushing the
The look and the feel of the Road Angel Compact is one
of quality and fits in well with the Road Angel range of products. Being
priced at £199.99 without laser detection and £249.99 with
the optional laser detector it means that Road Angel have now got a product
range that covers most budgets. The Compact will fit in with most car
interiors and is small enough to fit into a standard radio slot so discreet
fitting is an alternative if you have a cubby hole to accommodate.
We did find that the windscreen mount could get in the
way of the power lead if you want to angle the display in a small way
but it didn’t interfere with the operation of the unit and because
the screen is visible from wide angles it wasn’t really a problem.
Database updates to the device are done with the USB
lead that doubles as the power lead. Once you have registered your serial
number and downloaded the software this then allows connection to the
master database and downloads into the Compact. Downloads are pretty straight
forward but you might need to tweak your firewall (if you have one) to
accept the connection, but this is true of most software that needs an
internet connection. It is recommended that you register and do a download
as soon as you get the Compact but we didn’t find any omissions
while we were testing the device that we just took out of the box and
started to use.
It seems that Road Angel will have another success on
Things we liked :
Very clear resolution display.
Very good contrast.
Advisory speed limit displayed.
Sun hood built in.
Ready to use straight away.
Easy menu system.
Easy to mount discreetly.
Extension antenna available.
Laser detector available.
Because laser is optional legality will never be an issue.
Things we didn’t like :
Power lead can obstruct windscreen bracket.
Extension antenna socket on the side rather than at the back
Article courtesy of www.road-angel-uk.com