You'd think that with TomTom having such a sizable market share of the personal satellite navigation device market, there'd be little point in anyone coming in and trying to mop up. However, if you can start with a clean slate and not simply try to emulate an existing formula, there's a chance you'll produce something innovative and different.
Such was the aim of Navigon. While stuck with the same basic Navteq maps as everyone else, Navigon has looked with fresh eyes at the way drivers discern information and concluded that the closer the onscreen graphics match the view through the windscreen, the easier it will be to understand the navigation instructions.
Having tested literally dozens of different satnavs in recent years, we've grown accustomed to being shown the roads we travel with only an approximate visualisation of the road in front. While complex junctions tend to have more detail, it's certainly not the case that every lane of every road you travel is accurately reproduced.
The Navigon approach is to show all this detail - something it calls Reality View - and this certainly makes it stand out from some of the cartoon-like representations found on more basic models. You even get every destination listed on a motorway sign, not just the ultimate destination as TomTom gives you.
The mapping on the Navigon 2150 max is kept constantly up-to-date, too. There's an integrated TMC (Traffic Message Channel) traffic receiver module and this updates over the air when you first switch on the Navigon 2150 max. It's not free though: it costs £40, though it's a one-off payment rather than a subscription.
We also like the slim design of the 19mm-thick Navigon 2150 max - it's not as good looking as the Navman models, but it's got neatly moulded curves and a secure windscreen attachment. The cradle itself was a little flimsy, with a very small catch to hold the device in place.
The Navigon 2150 max screen is a generous 4.3in with a resolution of 480x272. As with almost any satnav these days, you can PIN-protect it so a thief can't use it or view your home address.
It's also a polite device, issuing a cautionary ‘beware!' should you stray over the speed limit. However, by default your current speed isn't displayed - you have to check your vehicle's speedo to ascertain this. Nor was the red and white shield on the top left displaying the local speed limit accurate on every occasion. An important instance of using common sense and information on the road itself, rather than just technology.
Whether or not you appreciate the branded POIs (points of interest) is a matter of personal taste - we'd rather not see what seem to be in-device adverts for burger restaurants at all, but if you've concluded that an Esso garage is normally cheaper than another petrol cartel, such detail can be useful to you.
The additional information about the severity of a turning is also a matter of personal preference. Extra boxes on the left side of the screen show you the layout for the next junction and aim to give you an idea of how much you'll need to brake or change gear to negotiate it.
It seems rather expensive once you factor in the £40 for the TMC service, but overall this is a good satnav, with admirably clear and precise maps and plenty of customisation options too.