The Road Angel Navigator

(Note: The Road Angel Navigator has been replaced by the Road Angel 7000 and the Road Angel 9000)

When you open the box you get the Road Angel Navigator itself of course, you also get what turns out to be a very useful carry pouch (given the amount of Sat Nav systems being stolen from cars these days). You get a straight power lead, a coiled power lead, a USB cable, a car mounting cradle, a windscreen mounting bracket, an anti-glare film for the display and the Road Angel Navigator user guide.

The look and feel of the unit itself is one of very good quality, it has a silver and graphite colour housing which will fit in with most modern cars dashboard colour schemes. It appears to be robust and solid. The card that carries the UK mapping is preloaded into the Navigator and sits in the side, flush with the surface. The 3 ½” display has a protective film on it, which is easily removed.

When I switched on the Navigator the inbuilt battery was already charged so it was ready to use straight away. Going through the help menus there is a demo mode called CoPilot, which gives an easy to understand graphical run through of the various operating features. There is a check box on the help menu so that this screen can load up each time the Navigator is switched on.
I would recommend using the CoPilot to help on first use, but the graphics that are used for the various options which are placed up the left hand side of the screen are so self explanatory that you’ll probably only need guidance once. Those that have used sat nav systems before will already be familiar with many of the features and so could just start using the options straight away.
I did reverse the way the windscreen mounting bracket works to make it a bit easier to get to the sucker release lever and the windscreen sucker tab, which allows easy removal from the windscreen when needed.
I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t even look at the user guide, most of us these days expect things to be plug and play, and that’s exactly what you get with the Road Angel Navigator. Something to read I suppose, when I get a spare minute, probably never. Luckily the display gives all the info you need either on the standard display or at a touch of one of the menu graphics.

Once I’d had a play with the various screens and options I was ready to start using the device properly.
The menu system allows for 3 basic guidance modes, Driving, Walking or Route Planning. I put it into Planning mode so that I could do the route from the comfort of my desk.
On this trip I was going to Mill Lane in Liverpool, I knew the road name but not the building number. In the menu using the virtual QWERTY keyboard you can put in a full or partial address, or instead choose a junction, a postcode, a point of interest, a GPS map reference or pick a point on a map.
I knew which end of Mill lane I was going so when I couldn’t put a house number in, it gave me a list of junctions on Mill Lane and I chose the nearest to where I wanted to go. It even gives you a map view, which makes it very easy if initially you aren’t sure where on the road you need to end up.

You can also pick destinations from ones that have been previously stored as favourites, points of interest, work or home. I wouldn’t recommend storing your home address though for security reasons, in case anybody unscrupulous gets hold of the device.
When you have selected your destination you select the driving or walking mode, which then starts the Navigator working out the route. In this case of course I selected driving mode. It took the Navigator only a few seconds to work out the quickest route. Almost forgot to mention, in the menu you can choose between quickest or shortest route and a few options about when you want to be warned about a turn coming up.

All these navigation features are accessed via the graphics on the touch screen. There are also some buttons to the right of the display, which are for - power, zoom in/out, mute on/off, day/night mode, Road Angel menu, delete/store. The Road Angel menu will be familiar to those that have previously had a New Road Angel speedtrap locator.

So ready to put in the car then, the windscreen mount is easily attached to the screen and when the suction lever is pushed over it sticks like a limpet. The power lead is attached to the mount and to the cigarette lighter. When you use the powered mount the sound is amplified through a good quality speaker at the back of the mount so the warnings can overcome any road noise. There is a thumbwheel volume control on the front of the mount. With the mount in place the Navigator can be placed into the slot with a bit of care to ensure the connections are made securely. To release it there is a push button on the face of the mount.

On the route you can have 1 of 3 views, in all 3 views you have the touch sensitive options up the left hand side, the ETA and the distance to the destination at the bottom left and the battery condition on the bottom right.

Safety View
The Safety view simply gives a large text instruction for the next turn, a graphic image of the turn, the distance to the turn(miles or kilometres are set in the options), the vehicle speed, and the area that you are currently in.

Map View
You can also have a 2D or 3D map view. In the 2D view you get a pictorial view of the road with an arrow moving along it, you also get the same information as in the safety view but placed into a smaller area at the top of the display on a dark blue background. The 3D view gives a representation of a map, but as if you were looking forward towards your destination rather than straight down at your position on the road. Again the routing information is displayed in an area at the top of the screen this time on a sky blue background complete with images of clouds, again to enhance the image of looking forwards towards the horizon.

Itinerary View
Itinerary view is a list of instructions for turns on the journey, giving a small graphic of the direction of the turn on the left of the screen, a text instruction in the middle and the distance between each change of direction on the right.

These views are easily changed with the options on the left.

On the journey the female voice gives instructions at distances of 2 miles, 1 mile, 3/10s of a mile and then as you approach the turn. Each of these distances can be turned on or off in the options menu. The digital voice coming through the amplified speaker is the best quality that I have heard on any speedtrap detector or Sat Nav system to date.
Almost forgot, there is also a detour option for if you need to take a particular road out of the route for any reason such as congestion, accidents etc.

Travelling along our route the Navigator gave warnings of various speedtraps, these included as an example going through roadworks on the motorway a verbal warning of a “Temporary Safety Camera” as well as going into a series of beeps it gave a graphic image of a camera on a Tripod and also showed the speed limit, again as a graphic of a speed limit sign. This is only advisory and I would advise that drivers do keep an eye out for the posted speed limit, although in every case while we have been using this new device the database speed limit has been correct. On the journey we also had warnings of accident blackspots, which are represented by a hazard warning triangle along with the verbal and beep warnings.

In conclusion the only niggle I have is that the backlight could possibly be slightly brighter but I found that the Sat Nav part of the system is about the best one I have used, it is certainly very easy to get along with and use the touch screen. It wasn’t ‘flakey’ like some Sat Navs are, changes of route are dealt with in seconds if you should stray off the prescribed route. It knows exactly where you are on the map whereas some Sat Navs seem to get confused and send you down dead ends etc. with out of date mapping. There are many Sat Navs that are just a pain to use, too small, too big, separate antennas making it difficult to move around or use on foot, but the Road Angel Navigator was simple, easy and restored my faith in satellite navigation as an easy to use technology. It’s about the right size for slipping in your pocket, it has a folding inbuilt antenna, you can use it on foot and for those new to this kind of technology the CoPilot walk through demo is a massive bonus.
The speedtrap/blackspot database is up to the same standard as the New Road Angel which has been the biggest seller in speedtrap location/road safety devices since it’s launch last year, but has the added feature of the advisory speed limits. Combining the 2 types of device has been tried before by others, with cheap mapping and speedtrap databases that have not been up to date or have just been incomplete. Blackspot is the first company to bring to market a high quality Sat Nav system with a market leading speedtrap database so is unique amongst its competitors, in fact I don’t think this device has any competitors. To buy this kind of high quality Sat Nav and a high quality speedtrap detector would cost substantially more than the price of the Road Angel Navigator so is excellent value for money as well.

3.5” LCD panel
Pocket sized
Fully portable
NAVTEQ mapping
Full postcode search
Blackspot and safety camera alerts
Camera advisory speed limits
Street level mapping
Full colour touch screen
Voice prompts on Sat Nav
Voice prompts on safety camera alerts
Interchangeable driving and walking modes
Customisable settings
Windscreen mount included
Automatic re-routing
Virtual QWERTY keyboard
Favourite destinations memory
Built in charger
USB cable charges the internal battery
2D and 3D map view
Partial address search
British design and assembly
Quick access buttons
Beginners demo mode

What I liked
Large display
Full colour display
Build quality
Road Angel safety camera database
Case colour scheme
Demo walk through
Easy menus
Pocket sized
Inbuilt antenna
Choice of map views
Excellent sound quality
Maps pre-loaded
Route planning
Route detour option
Slim design for pocket
Free carry pouch
Reliable mapping
Maps pre-installed ready to use
Quick mute button

What I didn’t like
CoPilot demo screen should be first screen on first power up.