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We test the Satmap Active 12 GPS unit to see just how much better this outdoor GPS is than its predecessor

active12 gb edition
Overall Score
Big and beautifully sharp high-resolution colour screen
You need to hold the unit flat for the compass to work

Serious money gets you a serious, dedicated sat nav device which comes loaded with navigational and route-logging features and 1:50k OS mapping of the whole of Great Britain. Built for action, the Active 12 is big and rugged and fills your palm with a large, bright, 3.5in hi-res HVGA screen.

This is the biggest, brightest and sharpest screen of any dedicated outdoor GPS device and, combined with Ordnance Survey's high resolution (HR) mapping is simply stunning, letting you zoom in to the smallest detail of even 1:25,000 maps.

With extra processing power (RAM) over its predecessor, the Active 10, Satmap's latest unit is noticeably quicker at scrolling around maps – and that's despite its screen having twice the pixels of its already good predecessor.  

The only slight quibble with the screen is that it needs shading in bright sunlight – but let's face it, that's only going to be an issue on a handful of UK days.

Although the button and menu configuration has not changed from the Active 10, with each button press pulling up its own menu, there are new features. These include Bluetooth connectivity for sharing data and routes with other Satmap Active 12 units, and picking up sensors like heart rate monitors and bike speed and cadence sensors.

Also new is a barometric altimeter which will give accurate elevation data for those who want to match their altitude to map readings, and log elevation totals.

Another quibble is that the compass only works with the unit kept flat - this is a slight disappointment given that rival units from the likes of Garmin have so-called 'three axis' compasses, which don't have to be kept flat for the compass to work. Those more use to keeping traditional compasses flat on their old school map won't see wha the fuss is about.

Battery life is excellent, with the rechargeable 2700mAh battery easily lasting all day, and there is a raft of available accessories like mounts, water-proof cases and sensors for other activities.
The bike mount, for example, is wonderfully robust, fixing to the bars with the help of strap that can be tightened by Allen key and easily moved from one bike to another.

The GB edition of the Active 12 comes pre-loaded with GB 1:250,000 and 1:1 million OS road mapping, 1:5 million and 1:200 million World Base Mapping, as well as Great Britain OS 1:50,000 map card, a rechargeable LiPol battery with charging accessories, a carry case and a lanyard.

You also get a year's free access to Satmap's Xpedition Premium online mapping and route planning site.

All said, with a fantastic screen and even better functionality the Satmap Active 12 is still one of the best outdoors GPS devices you can buy, particularly if you're making the leap from traditional map and compass.

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