The debate about the merits of road coverage on GPS models has raged for years, and various map sets have claimed dominance. I tried to find out which supplier really covered Africa well enough to make additional map sets unnecessary.
In my search for the complete road coverage provider, I went shopping at Sandton City. I visited the outdoor shops as well as a few others until I got the information I was looking for.
To my surprise, TomTom came out the winner. A relatively new entrant into the South African market, this company has won a good share of the GPS business, and has now introduced units that cover more than seven million kilometres of roads in Africa, in all 57 countries.
Believe me this is impressive and an invaluable tool not only for travel across Africa but also for the numerous South Africans who do business in Africa.
I have a friend who runs a travel clinic. He will be delighted with the mapping and the fact that he can upload all the remote clinics he visits via the “map share” function. About 3000 such “shares” are reported by users each month. This is a really useful enhancement which allows user-generated content to improve the system.
And the unit? Well, it’s part of the GO range, which comes with lifetime updates for Africa.
Another feature I really liked was that the mapping provides both the old and new street names when changes are made. Given that this is a near every day occurrence, the information is extremely useful. I recently got lost in the Johannesburg CBD looking for an address given as one of the newer streets with no reference to the original name. In Pretoria, they at least give the old and new names on the street signs.
Access to information is critical and these map sets are full of points of interest, making travel a breeze. That said, remember my warning in a previous article – always back up the GPS with a paper map and compass, and know how to use them.
I also like the live traffic feature (SA only) where information on traffic snarl-ups is fed into the device, enabling you to recalculate your route and still get to your destination on time.
Now all we need is information on alternative routes to the e-tolled freeways – to go with the warnings on where the speed cameras are going to be! Yes, the latter is already available and is an extremely useful feature, given the municipal authorities’ reluctance to do anything other than set up speed traps designed to fill their coffers rather than provide real traffic policing.