The best-laid plans. . – product review: maps

The best-laid plans. . – product review: maps – book review

Unless you have an expensive sat nav system fitted to your car, it’s fair to say that you won’t get far in this country without a map. In fact, I am willing to bet that you have at least one if not more maps in your possession right now.

There is an ever increasing number of atlases filling the shelves of bookshops. And with good reason. Constant building and restructuring of an already complicated UK road network means it is important that your map is as up to date as possible.

That’s why we decided to take a look at some of the 2003 maps that are available to see which are the clearest and which offer the best features.

However, it’s important to recognise that personal choice plays a big part in buying a map. For example, deciding whether to buy a spiral-bound edition or not will depend on your own preferences.

There is no winner or loser in this selection–all have their merits and their detractions.

Personally I would choose the Philip’s/Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas as it has the best tourist information of the maps selected. But that’s just my choice, you will have to make up your own mind.

AA BIG ROAD ATLAS BRITAIN–10.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Free car safety check voucher

* Good route planner including ports

* Lists of motorway restricted junctions

* 3 mile to 1 inch scale makes maps very clear

* M25 and M60 route planners

* 49 town centre maps

* Motorway risk rating map

Cons:

* Index printed small

* Spiral binding can make it harder to follow a route across pages

* Large format cumbersome

* Seems expensive

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AA DRIVER’S ATLAS BRITAIN–9.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Compact design

* Dual carriageways clearly marked

* Useful tourist information

* Easy to use index

* Reasonably priced

Cons:

* No town centre maps

* 4 miles to 1 inch scale makes it harder to read maps

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PHILIP’S/ORDNANCE SURVEY MOTORING ATLAS–7.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Best map for tourist information with complete listings for The National Trust and English Heritage sites

* 3 miles to 1 inch scale provides clear maps

* Listing of motorway restricted junctions

* 44 town plans and large scale urban area maps

* Scenic area map for walkers and cyclists

* Well priced

Cons:

* Index print could be bigger

* Large format can be cumbersome

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PHILIP’S PROFESSIONAL DRIVER’S BRITAIN–10.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* One of only 2 maps that include Ireland

* Covers Northern France

* Useful driver’s notes section

* Recommended by the Institute of Advanced Motorists

* 1 mile to 1 inch scale gives very clear maps

* Spiral-bound to prevent damage

* 56 indexed town centre maps

* Well priced

Cons:

* Spiral binding can make following a route tricky

* Index print very small

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PHILIP’S NAVIGATOR BRITAIN–19.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Ultra-large scale at 1.5 miles to 1 inch

* Clear and easy to read with lots of detail

* Recommended by the Institute of Advanced Motorists

* Plenty of tourist information

* Over 50 town plans

Cons:

* Most expensive map

* Large format can be cumbersome

* Heavier than other maps tested

PHILIP’S MOTORING BRITAIN–4.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Good value

* Details restricted motorway junctions

* 38 town centre maps

Cons:

* Small scale (4 miles to 1 inch) can make it hard to find routes

* Index print is very small

* Least number of town centre maps

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AA ROAD ATLAS BRITAIN–14.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Spiral-bound to prevent damage

* 94 town centre maps including ports and airports

* Free car safety check voucher

* Handy motorway and trunk road map

* M25 and M60 motorway maps

* Listing of motorway restricted junctions

* Includes Ireland

Cons:

* Index not as clear as some maps tested

* Large gaps between pages can prove difficult

* Large scale (3.15 miles to 1 inch) can mean more page turning

* Expensive

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AA EASY READ BRITAIN–14.99 [pounds sterling]

Pros:

* Giant scale- 2.34 miles to 1 inch

* Free car safety check voucher

* Large print index

* Very clear and easy-to-read maps

Cons:

* Large scale can mean turning the pages more often

* No town centre maps

* Could provide more tourist information

* Expensive

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COPYRIGHT 2003 DMG World Media Ltd.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group