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Collected Notes and Thoughts on Software Solutions

Current Limitations of Navigation Software
CE Monitor Configuration Utility
Mapviewer by SWI
Navman 34xx

TomTom Navigator
TomTom Software (except Navigator)
Xmap Handheld by Delorme



Current Limitations of Navigation Software
While navigation software for PocketPC's (and auto-routing standalone models) has reached high levels, there are some things it can't do or can't do very well.
Here's another interesting read on the subject, although more Built-In Car Navigation focused.

bulletExisting Features that need work:

"snap to road" - this neat feature that forces your position on a road where one generally expects to be when driving...will sometimes put you on the wrong road.
see here and here for more details


"Under crossing bug" - this is partly related to the above. If you happen to be waiting at a light under a a freeway/large road and still have a GPS signal, chances are the navigation software will think you're on that freeway/large road and reroute you accordingly...A bit annoying but they all seem to fall victim to that so it must be difficult to fix !


"Navigation info" - Navigation info, DTN, DTA, ETN, ETA, TOA, SPE, etc..., is lacking. There is currently no PocketPC program that offers as much navigation information as Garmin's auto-routing standalone receivers like the GPS V. It's a bit beyond me, considering the processing power and screen real estate at hand, but that's the way it is! The GPS V has 4 small customizable windows where you can choose the navigation info you want displayed.


"Address to Address limitations" - Contributed by SteveT
"The street number part of an address is not geocoded in map databases. When a destination is entered using street number, street, etc. the distance to travel on the final segment is estimated by looking at the address range for that segment and deciding where the destination falls within that range. In rural areas this type of estimation can be in error by quite significant distances, sometimes more than 1 mile. In dense residential areas this method of estimation is usually accurate enough to find your destination."


bulletFeatures that aren't yet available:

"Real time traffic conditions" - this question often comes back when I demo these navigation programs to friends, "does it take traffic into account?".
The answer is not yet, but I'm hopeful that with the planned roll out of permanent and cheap data streams for cellphones like GPRS and 1XRTT, this will soon become possible. One should probably expect to pay a subscription fee to cover the costs of updating the information. I think laptop products like Route66 (in Germany, the UK and Holland) have started offering such features, but I haven't read any reports about it.

CE Monitor by Leadtek (download)

bulletWhen should you use this utility?
I can see three good reasons:
bulletYou're a Destinator fan and know that it will perform much better in SiRF mode, however you also use programs that need NMEA like Mapopolis, PocketMap Navigator, etc...
bulletYou want to use Pharos Ostia (Hi Dale ;-) and know that it will only work in NMEA at 4,800bps
bulletYou're planning on using the software only version (SnartST Pro) of the Navman 3420 navigation program and know that it will require a baudrate of 57,600bps. You can now check that your receiver is up to snuff - (Note that Navman have not yet decided whether this will be possible or not, it isn't with the bundled version of SmartST)
bulletYou like to experiment...Can't see too many risks involved in using CE Monitor, EXCEPT for proud owners of the Bluetooth GPS (read warning here) but YMMV of course/
bullet Reported incompatibilities:
bulletPharos i180 Mouse GPS - Can connect but can't change any settings (seen it for myself)
bulletPretec CF GPS (BI-CGPSS2)- conflicting reports some (JackTer) have been able to change to SiRF but not others
bulletNavman sleeve - conflicting reports some (including myself) have been able to change to SiRF but not others
bullet How to:
While this freeware utility provided by Leadtek is a great little program the UI is sometimes a bit confusing.
Try this if you're having problems:
  1. Go into Tools/Port Settings and select the protocol/com port/baudrate you think your GPS is set to
  2. Then do Tools/Connect if it didn't try to connect automatically
  3. Make sure you can see either NMEA or SiRF in the bottom left corner of the screen. If you can't go back to 1) and change the settings. Don't go to 4 unless until you can see NMEA or SiRF.
  4. You can now go to Command where you will see 3 tabs, Initialize, NMEA and SiRF
    1. Initialize tab: you don't normally need this unless you want to test the acquisition times of your receiver. Select either state and then do "OK"
    2. NMEA tab: You need this if you're seeing SiRF in that bottom left corner and want to switch back to NMEA. Just select a baudrate and then "OK"
    3. SiRF tab: You need this if you're seeing NMEA in that bottom left corner and want to switch back to SiRF. Just select a baudrate and then "OK"
    4. You should now be taken back to the main screen where you can make sure your settings have been registered. 


bulletTrack display - Apparently Mapopolis is currently one of two (the other being Teletype) that does not offer a "Snap to Road" feature.
bulletVersion 2.2 previewed in the following PocketPC Passion thread
bulletThis product offers the fastest map display of any I've seen. Extremely fast scrolling and a clever "dissolve" zoom in and out feature. This definitely helps a lot with a pleasant user experience. Also the names of the streets adapt to the position of the map and move in real time when you scroll - hard to describe but quite efficient.

Mapviewer by SWI

bulletNavigation instructions: this program does not offer written instructions, making its routing features of limited use as you have to keep a close eye on the screen. Works ok while walking around a town though..


bulletTrack display - Teletype is currently one of two (the other being Mapopolis) that does not offer a "Snap to Road" feature.
bulletRouting Quality/Speed - While the latest 092002a improved the speed of the  route calculation tremendously and making it pretty usable, including re-routing, the itineraries are rarely those one would choose.
bulletHighway Maps - While Highway maps are available by State, they generally don't incorporate enough roads to allow for efficient routing (same problem as Pharos Ostia)
bulletPC version - This program comes with a PC application with the same functionalities as the the PPC based applications
bulletMap database - While this program offers Topo and Marine features, the required maps are sold separately. You can scan your own maps but that's rather a tedious process. Marine maps can be purchased at and tailored for Teletype.


TomTom Navigator

bulletRouting Quality
While this program is the best so far in terms of the Navigation Information provided, it seems to be lacking slightly when it comes to routing. When in "fastest route" mode it doesn't favor freeways/motorways automatically and may very well indicate a turn well ahead of the freeway exit you would normally take. This can be fixed by choosing a higher default speed on freeways/motorways and a lower default speed on highways but it's a big half-hazard and could certainly have been avoided by offering a "Favor toll road" setting like previous TomTom offerings. That's why I gave it a B for the quality of the routing offered.
bulletMap Management
This program offers a novel approach in the sense that it provides maps of a country either in 16mb or 32mb format and even better (provided you have a large memory card) for the whole country, thereby overcoming the "one map loaded" limitation.

Here are the respective sizes of each country:
Benelux 51 MB   Sweden 56 MB
France 200 MB   Switzerland 20 MB
Great Britain 90 MB   Austria 36 MB
Germany 216 MB   Italy 96 MB
Denmark 18 MB   Spain/Portugal 52.6 MB
Norway 10 MB  


I must say I'm a bit surprised at the pricing model of TomTom Navigator. While the country maps are reasonably priced at $129, it seems that $429 for the bundle is rather steep. While it's nice to have a ready made bundle (picture 1, picture 2) it doesn't seem to be worth $300 to me. The mouse GPS going for $140 and the holder for $50.

TomTom Software (except Navigator)

bullet-Navigation information: while these programs appear to offer some fairly extensive navigation information, it is generally not updated in real time and not easily accessible
bullet Future upgrades: Navigator combines the functionalities of RoutePlanner and CityMaps so I wonder these two programs will be updated in the future
bullet RoutePlanner - While the routing is very good and very fast, the GPS module seems to have been "slapped" on at the last minute and very little use is made of it in the program, with the position only being updated to show the next turn. Hopefully they will update this version and replace the lacking GPS module with the one used in Navigator. That would be a very interesting product for long distance navigation thanks to its small maps (for France 9mb vs the 200mb of Navigator) and could be hopefully sold at a cheaper price than Navigator..

Xmap Handheld by Delorme

bulletTopo Maps - This recently released program can use Topo maps exported from Delorme's Topo USA 4.


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