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  Review - Lexibook Easy Traveller

This review was originally written for the A1 Motor Stores Club A1 magazine and so is in a different style to the rest of the site, it's interesting nevertheless! Note: The Easy Traveller is gradually being replaced by the 'Travel Machine', as sold in Argos, see footnote. ...

The word is digital and that’s exactly what this gadget is - a digital route finder.

OK so what exactly does it do? I hear you ask. Well it does what it says on the box, it’s a route planner that you can use, read and re-route while on the move. The box claims that it’s easy to use, has accurate route data and will find your way in seconds. Fair enough, lets get started then! First job is to load four AA batteries (not supplied), to insert the supplied route card and switch on. There was a bit of a surprise here in that we had trouble loading one brand of battery that was just too big to go in.

Like most new toys there’s a frustrating few minutes when you’ve got to enter a few details before you can play in earnest, fortunately the instructions are very clear and well laid out. It’s well worth the effort getting the settings right before playing with routes because you can enter personal preferences like miles or kilometres and litres or gallons. Like most Brits I entered mixed units - miles and litres! The ‘Journey’ settings are straightforward enough, offering quickest or shortest route, and allowing motorway and/or ferry use or not as you wish. I left the ‘Vehicle’ settings menu until last because I needed to decide whether I was setting up for a 200 bhp Saab or a diesel motorcaravan! I must say I was very pleasantly surprised to see how easy it is to change settings for different vehicles and circumstances. There’s a simple percentage setting for speed so I guessed at 90% for the Hymer and 110% for the Saab. There’s the usual route planner option to enter miles per gallon and/or cost per mile (great for company or mini-cab drivers) but the real surprise and delight for me was the ability to enter a height for low bridges to avoid in the Hymer which is all but 10 feet tall. There’s also a towing option to let you avoid those narrow twisting roads if you want to - caravanners please note! Plainly Lexibook have worked hard to make the Traveller as easy to use as possible by offering a few simple but carefully thought out choices at each stage.

OK we’re now set up and ready to go, so does it work? Well yes it does and it works well. On switching on there’s a brief but sensible reminder about watching the road ahead then the ‘Start’ location is highlighted on screen so I pressed Select to get going. The screen prompted me to enter the start place and as I started typing it displayed a list of possible places, so just four keystrokes later I saw my village on screen, scrolled down to it and pressed select again. Back on the main screen ‘End’ was now highlighted so I repeated the process but this time entered A74 and scrolled down to the Gretna junction and selected it as the end place. Pressing ‘Route’ starts the calculation which takes anything from 5 to about 35 seconds - so “in seconds” as the blurb says but a long journey can actually take quite a long time if you’re waiting to see the result. The display then showed time, distance, fuel and cost - 235 miles predicted to take 4 hours in the motorcaravan, hour less in the Saab, assuming good behaviour! The arrival time by the way is calculated from the time you press the button.

Obviously I needed more than just the summary to get there so I pressed Route again to see the actual instructions. To keep the display clear there are just three columns displayed - road, distance and trip distance. My first instruction is to take an unclassified road for mile to the A46 then to travel 16.2 miles to the M40 at which point the trip distance is shown as 16 miles - this is very simple and it works well. Decent size scroll buttons allow you to move down through the trip turn by turn. If you need more detail there’s a ‘Level’ option that switches from the default list format to more detail about individual turns where instructions like “bear left” appear and some have additional tips like “at the Red Lion” and even extra guidance at particularly complicated junctions. Pressing the same key takes you back to the previous level and scrolling takes you to the next instruction whichever level you’re in - all reassuringly consistent! Rather cleverly each scroll to a new turn re-calculates the ETA (estimated time of arrival) but you do have to go to a summary screen to see it. When you switch off, the trip details are remembered and so switching on to start off on the actual journey resets the start and end times for you automatically – very cunning! The only disappointment in all this is the lack of estimated times for the via points. I found I soon got used to the various screens, buttons and procedures but I would say that the optional in-car adapter kit is essential if you want to get the best out of this thing without bumping into something ahead!

Once comfortable with the basics I found that some rather nice extras are included too. If you find yourself sitting in a motorway jam you can scroll to the next exit and choose Re-route to be given a revised route avoiding the next section - very handy. If you want to extend the diversion or indeed if you want to specify a different route for any reason you can add up to four ‘Via’ places to persuade Traveller to let you make a detour to collect that cardie that granny has kindly knitted you! You can also enter postcodes instead of place names but I found the name route easier and quicker, others might prefer the postcodes, possibly for city use – it’s good to have the choice. Once at your final destination you can choose reverse route to have traveller automatically plot the whole thing again for the return journey without having to re-enter the start and end places (though you might well want to change the via places).

I only tested the UK card, which I found accurate and up to date but there’s also a revised French card due out shortly plus both London and Paris street level cards. Revisions will appear every couple of years. There’s an optional wallet and desk/printing kit, but for us the in-car kit is essential for serious use - offering proper display and support, concealing irrelevant buttons when on the move, and allowing constant display and backlighting - an excellent accessory that simply plugs into the cigar lighter.

OK, so it’s not sat-nav but it’s a fraction of the price and a very competent and useful device. I’ll have two in-car kits please and move the Traveller from Saab to Hymer as needed!

Neill King, Editor www.motorcaravanning.co.uk 01-03-02

Latest info from Lexibook: "
The Lexibook Easy Traveller is still sold by a mail-order company called FL Services on 01252 725 757 or admin@flsuk.co.uk.  It comes with the 2001 GB route card and you can purchase the car kit from the same source.  Easy Traveller is approx. 50 and the car kit is 19.99. TravelMachine is the newer version, available from Argos or FL Services, as above.  It costs 79.99, the car kit is 29.99 and extra routing cards for France and London Streets are also available exclusively from FL Services. Our units come with a 2 year guarantee, but obviously with Easy Traveller, the stock will eventually run out and replacements will not be available".


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