If you are keen to try navigation but not necessarily keen to buy dedicated navigation kit, your other option is to tag route-planning capability onto a smart phone or PDA. The ideal in this situation is to choose kit with GPS already built in. That'll save you the bother of carrying a separate GPS antenna and it'll give you true all-in-one navigation.
The latest example of such kit to cross our path is E-TEN's strangely named glofiish X500.
At £429 from Expansys, the glofiish X500 isn't a pocket-money toy, and you will have to allow for route-planning software on top of that, but it does do just about everything a Pocket PC with built-in navigation could be expected to do.
E-TEN says the glofiish X500 is the world's thinnest Pocket PC phone, GPS and Wi-Fi device. That may be true, but we wouldn't suggest you buy on that basis alone -- something thinner is sure to come along fairly soon. For the record, the glofiish X500 measures 60mm by 113mm by 16mm and weighs 146g.
The glofiish X500 is an attractive slate grey colour, with buttons ranged around the screen and designed to look slightly '70's retro -- we rather like it. The buttons glow a mix of blue, green and red when one is pressed, and in the dark they look rather appealing.
Buttons which start the GPS running and link to the Windows Mobile Home screen are above the main display, and beneath it are Call and End buttons and two softkeys. Dragged a few millimetres down from this bottom set of buttons is the navigation key. This is a little more awkward to use than some, but you are likely to spend most of your time prodding at the touchscreen rather than using this key anyway.
The screen measures 71mm corner to corner, which is on a par with other current Pocket PCs. It delivers 240x320 pixels and 65k colours -- again, nothing special screen-wise, but perfectly acceptable nonetheless.
Around the edges are a few buttons and slots. On the bottom is the mains power slot, which doubles up for PC synchronising, and you'll also find the memory expansion slot here. On the left side are two buttons for adjusting volume and one that lets you make a voice recording, as well as the 2.5mm slot for the provided stereo headset. The right edge is where you'll find the main power switch and a button for using the built-in camera.
While there is nothing outstanding about the general design of the glofiish X500, the overall effect is quite neat and tidy.