Quick look: Portable travel pal

Global Positioning System devices are great for guiding you through unfamiliar territory, especially when you're driving. However, most are permanently mounted in vehicles, leaving you on your own when you rent a car or head off on foot.

That's where the super-light, portable EZ Road Pocket GPS Navigator from Pharos Science and Applications comes in. The handy 4.2-ounce device, comparable in size to a small personal digital assistant, slips easily into a shirt pocket or purse so you can have it with you at all times.

With EZ Road you can either preplan your route or enter a destination when you're out, as long as you're on a paved roadway. You can find a destination by entering an address or using EZ Road's database of points of interest.

Unfortunately, the point-of-interest database was uneven. For example, in our city, there were plenty of colleges, hospitals, malls and tourist spots listed but only a single concert hall and park.

Luckily, you can save your destinations in a favorites list so you only have to enter each address once. In addition, recently used destinations are saved in a list you can access with one click of a menu button. We also liked the feature that lets you add up to 10 stops along a route.

You can choose from three views while driving. One shows a map; the other shows a simplified view of the next turn you need to make, including the remaining distance until that turn; and the third shows a split screen with a map and simplified view.

You also have the option of selecting the night view, which optimizes the colors for after-dark viewing.

Voice prompts warn of upcoming turns so you can keep your eyes on the road. The prompts would be even more helpful if they also stated the distance to the turn.

EZ Road can display text directions, but they show up in a split-screen view with the simplified turn view, so some of the text gets cut off. You can scroll horizontally to view longer text, but that can be tricky when driving.

Despite the hitches, EZ Road is a slick and handy device. Its portability and convenience are big pluses. EZ Road's suggested list price is $529.

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