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SatMap: Knowledge at a price
With long trips planned with my cycle in next couple of years my thoughts turned to navigation. My previous experience showed that I could spend some time each day either wondering if I was where I thought I was and stopping to ask or figure it out, or worst still going down the wrong road wasting time and energy.
So I thought an investment in the Satmap system would eventually pay off in saved time, energy and piece of mind. TD my test runs prove it to be true. The Satmap has guided me over several routes through Cheshire?s back waters. A test trip to Snowdonia in the 'summer' of 2008 (the wettest ever) proved the devise invaluable. It withstood large amount of rain/water from the sky and passing traffic. Also I was alarmed when it fell out of my hand onto a concrete farmyard and despite the drop it continued to work.
The great thing is I know exactly where I am and how far to go etc In fact in Snowden I found I kept the screen most of the time. It's reassuring to note things as they pass by and to get ready for roundabouts or crossroads etc.
Although this does not have a odometer it can replace all the other normal functions that you get with a cycle computer and you don't need to fiddle about attaching things to the wheel. With a route planned you can also see a profile of the terrain and get the total ascents/descents you have to do on route.
Along with the OS map, it has info boxs on bottom of screen that you can set to display 2 or 4 items of information, giving 'speed now', 'average speed' etc
There is however one drawback for me in all of this and that is the issue of power. Unlike the traditional paper map this gadget needs a battery of one sort or another. When camping the opportunities to use a wall charger are probably zero so you have to carry what you need. The Satmap either uses 3 AA batteries or a bespoke rechargable pack (£30 each) I find that when cycling I have been checking my position probably every 10 mins. So overall usage with screen on was about 6 minutes an hour. The battery pack I found lasted about 10 hours with this level of usage.
A test of 3 AA batteries (supermarket own brand) with screen on continuously got me 6 hours of use for about 90p. Note: The devise still uses power to keep the GPS going when screen is off.
The battery packs are probably the best option at present for a day trip. I was informed when I rang Satmap that they may be developing a cycle dynamo with a USB output to the Satmap so charging would take place as you go along. This would be great if ever it appears on the market at a reasonable price.
Conclusion: TD I have no regrets about this purchase although the cost could put some off Remember after the devise itself you have to buy maps (about £150 for the whole of Britain at 1:50K) at either the 25K or 50K detail, a cycle mount, powerpack and spare batteries as needed. I would trust this devise when walking/cycling etc to get me to where I wanted to go but I would always take a paper map just in case of failure or loss of power.
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