Tuesday, 2 June 2009

On replacements for TomTom...

One of the nice things about an empire toppling is that the new guys are relatively easy to find, and the older folks on the block suddenly pull their package updates forward to improve their chances of a sale or ten.

Such is the case with TomTom and their disgusting customer focus.

Let's remind ourselves what TomTom v6 had, so we can compare it to other packages from different manufacturers...


  • Reasonably fast and initially reliable route planning on the-then highly detailed, up-to-date maps (Note: No map updates since the last one almost TWO YEARS ago. Maps are hideously out of date now).

  • Automatic, one-second recalculation when you moved off the provided route

  • Accurate and reliable positioning by GPS

  • Guidance by means of clear and timely verbal instructions, arrows and maps

  • Destination selection by means of: Favourites, Point of Interest, Clicking on map, or entering an address

  • Real time travel information over the mobile phone network (incurring network charges, and oh yes, this was a premium service as well, you had to pay for it)

  • Customisable 'skin'

  • Importable and customisable Point of Interest files that you could get from a wide range of places (OV2 format)

  • Widely supported by third party websites, e.g. Pocket GPS World.



And now some of the competition...

These are ones I've filtered; the list is neither exhaustive, nor definitve. It's not impartial, by the way - remember, I'm looking for a package for myself, not others, so the feature list must meet the specifications that I want in the replacement SatNav package I eventually get hold of...

The New Guys...

Zorrogps - Getting there, but not quite yet...

Zorro is a fairly new contender to TomTom's throne. It's cheaper, newer, and has had favourable reviews in the GPS magazines. It is, however, limited compared to TomTom, in that it doesn't handle its' POI files in quite as an effective manner as TT. In all other respects, though, it's a major contender.

NavMii - New kid in class, more effort required...

NavMii is brand new - I only found out about it through a magazine recently, then saw it noted on another website (Pocket GPS World.). It's VERY basic, doesn't yet support importable POI files, and is mainly aimed, so to speak, at the networking crowd, as it can send it's location to people on your contacts list (not automatically, but at your deliberate request - how it does this is not clear, so I don't know if it does this by SMS (text) or an active internet connection - perhaps someone can clarify this for me?). I can see this package going places (sic), but not for a while, until they've sorted their POI file capabilities, which apparently won't be tat long, judging by recent comments on their support forums - watch this space!

The Old Boys...

Navman... apparently fallen by the wayside...

I WOULD have added Navman - it was the first PDA Satnav package I ever used, until some thieving basket case stole my Bluetooth GPS receiver from my car a few years back. Unfortunately, it appears that they apparently stopped supporting Windows Mobile devices, as I can't find their software for PDAs anywhere now. The last mention I can find is that it got to version Smart ST3, then stopped being released. Seems they only market their own PNDs now - a trend that TomTom looked like they were following until the other day. Oh well.

CoPilot - The Main Contender...

CoPilot is a package that goes from strength to strength, and is probably the main contender for the TomTom crown.

The Pocket GPS World review is here, and says most of what you need to know...

In summary, though, all you need is the Pro/Con listing is rather good...

Pros

  • Easy installation

  • Much improved user interface

  • Simple Menu Structure

  • Routing is highly configurable

  • Navteq map data

  • ov2 Format POI Support

  • Simple activation system

  • Large Menu and keyboard buttons

  • Desktop route planning



Cons

  • Amount of on-screen information limited

  • No Text To Speech option (coming)

  • More control over custom POI alerts needed



Synergic McGuider - Nipping at the heels...

Synergic McGuider is rapidly gaining popularity, and not just for the ease of migration from TomTom. It is allegedly dead easy for former TomTom users to get to use McGuider - the controls are apparently similar in look, feel, and usage; its' handling of POI files is reputely fair too (although it does treat the new SPECS cameras as single cameras, not sped averagers, which IS a problem), and it will accept customied POI files from third party locations. There's a review of the current version here (takes you to Pocket GPS World).

They drew some rough conclusions in a Pro/Con listing at the end, as follows:

Pros

  • Easy to use

  • Friendly UI

  • Very good map coverage

  • Sensible routing

  • Clear & timely instructions



Cons

  • Itinerary optimisation is poor

  • Lack of house number for postcode entry

  • No ability to change map colours

  • Only one voice per language



Add to the Cons is the poor handling of SPECS POI files, but that's a relatively minor issue, frankly.

So... what will I be getting?

Damn good question.

In addition to meeting my specifications (it should meet or exceed TT v6 specifications), it'll also have to be cost-effective in relation to its' features. That doesn't necessarily mean cheap, although in these belt-tightening times that's a serious consideration, but at the end of the day, I'm also going to be replacing my ageing iPAQ HW6915, on which the battery has practically died (two years is damn good for a lithium ion battery that gets plugged in to recharge practically every other day!), and I'll be looking for increased capabilities from the replacement phone as well, so the jury's well and truly out at the moment.

I'll keep you posted.

3 comments:

Блогер said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

Nice to know someone from Russia is reading the Blant - greetings, Tovarich :)

It looks like I misread the review I read on this then - thanks for the correction :)

Roger said...

Interesting, and not a little spooky.

The original poster, having received a reply, removed all evidence of his posting not an hour ago. I find that odd in the extreme.

What're you trying to hide, tovarish? I'm not the SVD, after all!