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Road Angel Professional Connected

This is a GPS camera and hazard locator with an Orange cell phone SIM in its guts. Like all the best speed camera and congestion charge etc. type locators, it has a database that is used to update the unit with all the latest camera installations. However, as this one is connected to the aether via a cell phone link, it can update itself every few minutes and even receive SMS messages from any web connected computer (A great pity it cannot simply be texted from a cell phone but it needs must go via the Road Angel Tracking portal. Ironically enough this thus means that any web-connected phone that can write SMS on a website can send SMS to the units!) In my household it'd be something like “GET some bread – AND SLOW DOWN!” from my wife…

The unit is dense and well put together with a big shiny LCD screen that can be adjusted for colour way and brightness. All functions bar the top on/off big button are handled by the simple low-button count (nine) card type remote control. On the rear are a mini USB socket, a socket to add an antenna for those cars with heated front windscreens (that are impervious to GPS satellite pick up) and an extra socket for a laser detector accessory. This last item gets barely a mention in the excellent manual, though.

The bracketry is as excellent as all the Road Angel products, with a solid fixing including a swivel base, whether you go with the included screen sucker mount (two sets of rubber grommets supplied to for the differing rakes of windscreen in a saloon and say, a Range Rover) or the sticky base for dash mounting.

The package includes a 12V DC power cord as well as a USB plug-equipped mains power unit. You charge the unit on the mains (or you can simply leave it connected to a pungent USB connection on a computer) and then charge as need be on the move.
Once purchased, you pay a fiver a month on a minimum twelve month contract for the updates, which is cheap as after all it is a fully fledged SIM card you are running here. If you want to be able to track your unit and send it SMS messages then you can also subscribe to the Tracking Portal which is a free single month trial, then a further £5.99 a month if you want that too.

I imagine this function would be best for owners of top of the line executive cab cars to keep track of their fleet for progress of VIPs and also to check that your drivers are not up to work for other bosses! There's no way they can easily say they were out of an Orange reception area unless they are up a mountain in a rugged place…

- Audible and visual warnings of: fixed safety cameras, mobile safety camera locations, average speed camera zones, black-spot areas, school zones, congestion charge zones, fatigue warnings, railway crossings
- UK wide safety camera locations updated via GSM/GPRS technology (Orange) every few minutes
- In built tracking function enables your location to be identified in an emergency by friends, family or the rescue services. (free one month trial then subscriptions service if required)
- GPS position also readable from display (to report to emergency services) if needed, without tracking function enabled
- Can receive text messages sent via online tracking portal (free one month trial then subscriptions service if required
- Full colour LCD tft screen with customisable interface
- Overspeed warning settable from 20mph to 165mph (For that private road with the strict 160mph limit)
- Advisory speed limit displayed at camera locations, distance from hazard alert customer settable
- Continuous speed reading with double figure display that changes to three figures as needed
- 4 hours battery time, 6hrs for 1st charge via mains/USB or up to 24hrs to charge in use
- Windscreen and dash top swivel mount included
- Automatic power on/off function by motion sensor or by hardwire sensing
- Simple to use menus accessed from included card type remote control (two supplied
- Auxiliary socket for laser detector attachment, external GPS antenna and USB mini socket for power and computer connection in low reception areas
- Designed and manufactured in the UK
- 100% legal, unless Laser detector is fitted and then outlawed
– at which point you would have to disconnect or disobey
- Dimensions: 55(h) x 105(w) x 55(d) mm
- Computer Requirements: Windows 2000 and above, 256Mb RAM, 20Mb Disk Space & an Internet Connection
- PC update through USB does not currently support Apple Macintosh operating systems. All Road Angel Connected devices receive safety camera and black spot information using the built in SIM card
- no computer is required.

Review by Adam Rayner

This thing is the effing NUTS!

There, I've said it. The Road Angel Professional Connected is a complete Ronseal job and all the stuff it does is customisable in some really cool ways. If you would rather not be informed about traffic danger Blackspots on the motorway because you drive at night, then you can switch just those off. (Black Spots on motorways are often alerted – and then you see stripes of rubber on the tarmac where at rush hour time the traffic crests a rise at speed only to find a queue. It's a function of modern motorway driving and one that the earlier units made me aware of.) You can choose to have a geezer or a lass talk to you – I have it set on the warm contralto woman's voice – you can set it to get louder with speed or not, depending upon how noisy your car gets.

In my car I set it to one fixed level. It's a Volvo.

But it's also a Volvo with a sodding great turbocharger and the torquey, grunty engine dynamics that gave rise to the legendary T5 and all those Volvo estate police cars, so it goes like stink. Even full of fishing kit or subwoofers. (Old Volvo heads will recall also that the 850 T5 – the one that astonished the car journalists - was banned from the Touring Car race scene as it was reckoned its estate shape gave it an aerodynamic advantage for greater down force!) I won't admit where or when but I have seen the display on the Angel go from a neat representation of the speed in two figures to a slightly smaller font in three numbers as you crack the ton.

Since 100mph is “30 up” or Banning Speed on the motorway, you can set the overspeed warning (or is that “Achievement Alert”?) at any speed from 20mph to a staggering 165mph. Since the Germans' 130kph recommendation for the derestricted sections of Autobahnen equates to 81mph as the highest general European limit, this feature utterly delights me personally for what I perceive as an enthusiastic motorists' design intent. I bloody KNOW what Jezza Clarkson would use this for. But then he does have an airfield. I would like to see if it'll do a two for that first digit when three numbers are showing in the speed display in a Veyron. I discussed this with a top bod at Road Angel. He thought that the third digit would be fully numeric, thus 999mph would be the display's limit but that software or the GPS system itself would dictate the top measurable speed. I added that since GPS is US military in design intent it'd be of use for fighter jets. 'Nuff said, no car will outrun a satellite's ability to track it on the surface.

That LCD display is very bright and yet in harsh direct sunlight it can struggle to be visible. The more expensive and hot-running Organic Electro-Luminescent Display (OEL or OLED as it now being called) could have been better but would have cranked the price by �50 at least. A sunshade or a neat moulded plastic visor that clicked into place into depressions in the case's side would mean a retool of their mouldings and the creation of the visor part but adding one would address the issue and as you'll read later, there may be thermal issues in extremis, ruling OEL right out anyway.

But that is a quibble really as the unit tracks to the YARD or metre if you are a younger blood than me and can convert Kilometre per hour readings into what the road sign speed limits mean in your head. You can set it to metric as you can set all the functions to show what you want.

I ran the unit alongside the excellent Syrius from Snooper that I have been crap and lazy about getting a Vista updater programme installed for, so it is a bit out of date. The Road Angel Professional Connected copes perfectly with the ever changing bastard that is the SPECS digital array all over the bottom of the M1 near me and in a round thousand miles of testing that has seen me drive to Yorkshire, Castle Donington and Sunderland on separate trips, it hasn't missed a beat.

It doesn't like being left on a hot dashboard and while the red power LED starts to flash and the power cord cigar lighter's LED starts to flash from green to Amber, it doesn't seem to affect the unit's function. However, it did run out of juice on the run down from Sunderland as it was three and a half hours (269 miles, you do the maths, plus it was in traffic here and there…) and I think I had the power accidentally disconnected and missed the little red light as I was kind of concentrating intently. It started the journey cool and entered the 'OMG' state in the sunshine even though I remained well ventilated. My car has no aircon.

So apart from an interest in the thermodynamics of the unit, I can tell you that the Road Angel Professional Connected is the one electronic counter-measure that the serious car owner absolutely needs. In a revenue-thieving environment and horrendous rising costs scenario, this guardian angel is electronic countermeasures you can rely on.

The bit I love best and am not even sure if it isn't a contravention of laws regarding interference with the execution of the duty of, and the wasting of time of certain individual workers is the Live Camera Van feature.

Your unit alerts you to a possible camera van location. You grip the wee remote and feel for the top left bump on it as you lift it off the Velcro it came with. There's rats on the roadside. You press the button and for the next two hours, other users of the device will get a vermin alert to tell them, that the area really IS infested.

I love it and it scores plenty enough to garner Talk Audio's second-only-ever State of the Art Award.

Dave Clark, (founder) I love you.

Appearance/Display 9.0
Ease of use/HMI 10.0
Features 10.0
Effectiveness 10.0
Value For Money 10.0
Overall rating 9.8

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