When I heard that I had the opportunity to review this small marvel of electronics, I wondered what would be the use to me. I have to go back a long time to explain my feelings to you on the subject of speed limits... and of course keeping within those limits. It's now some thirty five years ago, that I was trained to become a civil engineer. We had many lectures on road design, and it's like yesterday to me listening to one of the lecturers admonishing us: "When you drive keep within the speed limits: roads are designed to a specific maximum speed. It's for your own safety to stay within those limits!"
That stern warning has been in the back of my mind ever since, so I keep to speed limits. So why would I need an instrument that warns me of speed cameras? It's with a bit of scepticism I plugged it into the cigarette lighter, and took the GlobalTop SC-200 for a road test.
In this review I'll give you a first hand witness account of how I changed my mind, once I had the experience of going through an hour of heavy rush hour traffic in the city of the Hague, in the western part of the Netherlands.
Before the SC-200 can be used the database has to be installed or as it says in the manual "uploaded to the SC200". My expectations were very high, because on the box it says: " It is easy to set up and get your position from GPS satellites in few seconds." Maybe I was a tiny bit too enthusiastic, I may have missed something... but for me it turned out to be a almost a half an hour of trial and error... and then finally success. Although I have become pretty handy with computers and stuff in the last twenty years, I encountered some glitches I can't explain really. But once I got it done I marvelled at the little sky map, showing me all the satellites overhead!
Before you decide on purchasing, it might be a good idea to download the installation manual here: http://www.gtop-tech.com/index.asp?pid=401#314. Decide for yourself if you are technical enough to do the trick. If you can, I can already tell you it can become a very useful tool for you...
The registration and installation process got me wondering why the manufacturer doesn't pre-install the database for us, just before shipping the tiny unit. It would then become truly plug-'n-play, because on the bright side: once installed, it is very easy to use! Just to be sure I am saying the right thing here I looked through the thirty-three page installation manual again. It's not quite clear to me now, whether or not a database was installed already, and the exercise is to update to the latest version? Maybe a one page quickstart guide, with clear instructions would be helpful. Even a computer-geek like me doesn't quite get it....
Going for a Ride
Lucky for us, we live in an area where we don't have too many speed cameras. That means we live in a part of the country, with relatively more space than where we went for our "test drive": we took the SC-200 with us on the trip from Uden to Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, and then back home via Dordrecht. If you like to explore a map: have a look at this!
We came across many camera's between Noordwijk aan Zee and den Haag. In the rush hour traffic it began to dawn on me how useful this little instrument can be: an extra signal, and reminder to watch my speed. It's so easy to drive faster than the 50 kilometers per hour on these wide city streets.
A week or so later we had another trip down to Maastricht, where I found only three speed camera's. In all we passed thirty camera's of which twenty-eight registered perfectly. One was a bit off, but the little thing started beeping when we got nearby. And one obviously new didn't register- it must have been placed there very recently, as the road was quite new. That's where GPS Camaign at SCDB comes into play... in which your can earn a lifelong free access to the database! All in all a very satisfactory score of more than nine out of ten!!!
Where to buy? How much does it cost?
After the test drives I knew that this little gadget does it's job (almost) perfectly, and I became convinced that it can be a useful addition in busy traffic. I started wondering where one can buy this SC-200, and how much it costs. First I looked all over the official GlobalTop Website. There may be a small chance I missed something, but I couldn't find any information on resellers, or online shops. So I googled on SC-200 "Speed Camera Advisor" By the way: do you see I am following modern trends in inventing new verbs all the time?! I am because I google ;-) Maybe you could clusty? And kartooing can also be very nice... ;-)
For all my international readers, I tried to search through google.com... but I get redirected to .nl all the time. That's another story...
And then I found the webshop GPSPlaza.nl Try a search in from your machine, and Google will probably provide you with a shop from your point of view. At time of writing it is offered for 69 euro.
It might be an idea for the manufacturer to provide links on their site so I can click to the right information on resellers, and online shops.
One last thing I wondered: how much does a speeding fine cost me? So I found this nice list at the Autotelefgraaf. This might look like Double Dutch to you, because it is a Dutch language site for our country. It shows that if I get a fine once for speeding 10 kilometers per hour above the maximum allowed, I will earn back the SC-200.
Once I knew this, I came to some simple conclusions:
I started off a little sceptical: "Why do I need this contraption to keep me from speeding - even if it's road legal?" And of course I had this little hurdle on installing the latest database. But once I had taken it with me on two test drives, I became a "convert". Put in other words: I am now convinced the GlobalTop SC-200 Speed Camera Advisor is a very useful tool in my car to keep me from speeding. It's so simple to use: just plug it in the cigarette lighter, and off you go. Right at the moment my attention slips, I get warned to stay focused on the road... and be safe for myself, and the others around me by keeping within the speed limits. It will quickly pay for itself, if I would miss the next speed camera...
PS 1: the cord to the cigarette lighter is a bit too long, and I would love to see an expandable one that stays uncluttered!
PS 2: it's a pity I don't have a "normal laptop" in this case, because I would have liked to see how the SC-200 works as a g-mouse, making the laptop a complete gps-system with the right software. It surely would be nice if it could combine with my MacBook....