Sunday, 7 February 2010

NavMii is now on the starting blocks...

OK, as promised, I haven't spent another penny on TomTom products. Instead, I've bitten the bullet, after doing my research, that is, and bought a copy of GeoLife's NavMii.

At thirty quid (close to a third the cost of the most recent release of TomTom for Windows Mobile, by the way), it's looking ok so far, and installed first time, with no faffing about, which was nice, as I followed the installation instructions to the letter .

Furthermore, it's working first time off the blocks, having identified and interfaced with the on-board GPS unit on my HTC Touch Pro 2 Smartphone, with the system then properly displaying my location in under thirty seconds (I had, I must admit, manually updated the QuickGPS files on the phone, so the TTFF (Time To First Fix) was about average.

Routing hasn't been tested yet, but that's for this evening, when I drive over to the better half's place (some seventy-odd miles away from here as the crow flies) for a few days of leave from work - at that time, I suspect any shortcomings on routing will become apparent, but I suspect they won't be that bad, having read the forums over on the NavMii website and looked for such problems before deciding whether or not to buy the package.

And what, I hear you ask, swung my decision, given the lack of custom Points Of Interest files in the package? Easy. They've partnered with Pocket GPS World, to integrate their "Safety Camera" GPS location files into the package. Now, I've got a free subscription to the PGPSW files, having been credited with identifying a camera for the first time (that's a standard offer they maintain, by the way, hint hint, buy a subscription over there!), and since GeoLife have incorporated the PGPSW files into NavMii, the satnav package has become more useful to me.

So, knowing that GeoLife actually listen to their customers (you just need to look at their forums to see that), I decided to take a chance, and buy a licence. Rather than wait for the CD version to come in the mail, I opted for on-line purchasing and download, expecting a few hiccups along the way.

No such hiccups occurred - and on a Sunday, as well, normally the day of the week when things bought online tend to go a little, shall we say, pear-shaped. Well, not this time - the entire process of acquiring this package has been as smooth as the proverbial silk - colour me well impressed.

It's a good start.

Now, let's see if it can maintain the headway!

A few hours later...

Well... having driven from my home to my better halfs' place this evening, I'd say I made a reasonably good decision in buying NavMii.

Although the routing seemed to prefer maintaining 'A' roads over a shortcut that I know, and wanted me to stick on the M25, then the M4, rather than go the M25, M3, A322, A329, A329(M), and M4, to my destination (remember the standing order? Yup, if you're a regular reader here, then you guessed it, I was again tasked with bringing the KFC Family Bucket with me!), but that's really a minor issue.

It got all the "Safety Cameras" that I could see, and some that I didn't see until it mentioned them (just as well I keep within the speed limits!), so purely on a route I know very well, it performed adequately. There are minor issues, such as notification distances on the camera files, the lack of skinning customisation, and so on, but these aren't deal breakers.

An example of something that NavMii can't be expected to rectify immediately is mapping errors. The map data that comes with the package is supplied by TeleAtlas, and in a few places, appears to be a little off - for example, there's a mini-roundabout between Selsdon and Warlingham, at the junction of Limpsfield Road and Mitchley Hill (Google Maps link), that's been there for well over a year, and yet it's apparently failed to make it onto either of the main mapping data providers databases - TeleAtlas or NavTech, so GeoLife can't be held resonsible for that - it's a problem with the map provider - and again, while the satellite photos on Google Maps show the mini-roundabout, Google's map data doesn't show the mini-roundabout either!

As I said, minor issues, but nothing that can't be fixed in due course. All in all, I'm very happy with this package, and while it's a lot less sophisticated (less in the way of bells and whistles, in other words!) than, say, TomTom's recent offerings, this SatNav package does what it says on the tin, so to speak.

So, if you're looking for a replacement for TomTom, you could do worse than look over NavMii!

Footnote... I visited the TeleAtlas website map feedback pages the following morning, and added an amendment request for their maps - lets' see if that fixes that minor problem!

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