Thanks to personal navigation systems, the days of getting completely lost whilst out wandering are well and truly behind us. GPS navigation systems can now show you 3D representations of your surroundings, give you multiple routing options and can even let you know if there's a good restaurant nearby. You can buy units to mount in your car, on your bike or on your wrist and can now even get GPS capabilities in most modern mobile phones. But if all you want is to be able to find your way back to where you started from as quickly and easily as possible then the ECCO personal GPS navigator might be of interest.

The interface on the handy ECCO is designed to help you find your way back to your car, back home or to any one of three locations you have locked onto during your walkabout. It'll tell you if you're going the wrong way and let you know when you're nearing your destination. It'll track up to 32 satellites in just 60 seconds and has a range of nearly 10,000 miles. If Hänsel and Gretel had owned one of these babies, maybe I wouldn't have spent sleepless nights worrying about being eaten by witches.

Never leave home without your keys

However forgetful you may be, you're likely to always remember your keys. The ECCO is small enough to be used as a keyring, so you can just pop your keys on it and go. The ECCO promises simplicity - switch it on, wait for the status indicator to tell you that a GPS signal has been found and then lock your location using the cleverly titled lock button. Then go off on your meanderings. When you want to return, simply press the equally clever return button and your pocket navigator will begin guiding you back to your starting point.

On the LCD screen there's a proximity indicator, a directional arrow, a compass and a distance gauge. When you get within 30m of your desired location the device will start to flash to let you know you're getting close. If you wander off in the wrong direction a red LED will blink. The unit is accurate to about 10m and can store three locations at any one time, so you can take in scenic views, get to a good site for that picnic you've been promising the family or pop into a pub you saw whilst wandering and still get back to your starting point when you're done.

The lithium-ion battery is charged via a USB port and takes around two hours to fully charge which will provide about five hours of active tracking or eight days on standby. There's no software to load, no updates or new maps to buy and no service fees. It can be used anywhere in the world, providing it can find a GPS signal to latch onto. If you start your journey from an underground car park or in the middle of thick tree cover, the ECCO might not pick up a satellite signal but other GPS devices suffer similarly in such conditions so head for the nearest clearing before you lock your position and you should be OK.

The ECCO is available from IDC Design Corporation for USD$99.99 (excl shipping).

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