Thanks to its esteemed mapping software, Route 66 has built up a solid foundation in smartphones (most notably on Nokia’s Navigator), but it’s now beginning to sell its own satnav units. The Route 66 Maxi Europe is a slimline 4.3in device, although the smaller 3.5in Mini Europe and Mini Regional models are also available.
The Route 66 Maxi Europe's onscreen display itself is pleasingly bright and clean, with less information clutter than you find on some satnavs. This stripped-down approach is perhaps down to Route 66’s expertise in the space-constrained smartphone market. But while the clean interface gave us few problems on major roads, the Route 66 Maxi Europe's large blob was no substitute for proper directional arrows when it came to smaller roads.
Our other criticism is that the Route 66 Maxi Europe's speed-camera alerts are not active by default - it's a function you want to have out the box and one that other satnav brands are able to provide. Instead, as with features such as the tourist information, you need to install the setup software on your PC first and then transfer it to the SD Card.
The Route 66 Maxi Europe's 2GB SD Card contains European maps provided by Navteq and there's the option of installing city guides provided by Lonely Planet. More general points of interest are pre-installed. You can also use the Route 66 Maxi Europe as an MP3 player and photo viewer. A wireless kit that enables handsfree phone calling and day and night sensing can be added for £60. Again, we've seen this latter function work magically as a standard feature of other satnavs such as Medion's GoPal P4210 (formerly known as the 465).
Enough of the sniping, however. The Route 66 Maxi Europe is a better than average personal satellite navigation device with a clean, usable touchscreen in the now expected 4.3in widescreen format. The verbal instructions are clearly delivered and gave us the right amount of notice to safely change lanes and take turns. Moreover, the Route 66 Maxi Europe's speedy route recalculation was exceptional. On one occasion, we pulled over at a shop at a service station to pick up some refreshments and the Route 66 Maxi Europe had a new route worked out for us almost before we'd parked. Barring glitches such as the SD Card occasionally not being found and the issue of unclear arrows appearing, we found the Route 66 Maxi Europe to be a decent satnav.