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Review - Intellinav v2
Posté le 31 mai 2004 à 22:46:37 par gpspassion.

Intellinav (iGuidance, PrymeNav, Routis) v2

Intellinav (iGuidance, PrymeNav, Routis) v2

Intellinav, released as iGuidance by iNav, Routis by Deluo and now PrymeNav by Pryme Advance is reviewed by Portus, an experienced PocketPC GPS ans Intellinav v1.1 user who will share his experience with Intellinav v2. Follow this link for the v1.1 review.

Apparently Netropa is not dwelling on its success with the intelliNav GPS navigation software product (which is manifested by the number of OEM versions available on the market, with a new addition of PrymeNav, among others). Not long after its v1.1 map update release, Netropa has come up with version 2.0 of intelliNav with some well anticipated improvements and nice touches. Whether the update justifies a major version number increment, though, is quite subjective so I'll leave it to you to decide.

A picture is worth a thousand words...
Without further ado, here's a comparison of a couple of snapshots of the San Francisco Bay (US) area taken from intelliNav 2.0 (left) and 1.1 (right) under the same zoom level and 3D display option.

Clearly, the addition of geographical features (water-blue, parks-green, airports-grey, etc.) now rendered on the map makes a big difference in map visibility and usability. The new color scheme is also appealing, although this is subjective. I am going to try and brief you with all the new and improved features that I observed in this release without too much nonsense. So here we go...

New and improved

Color is the spice of life
As with all software products, UI changes hit your eyes first. With version 2.0, intelliNav does a good job of 'color coding' the streets. Here's a couple of snapshots.

Observe that the highways, ramps, and local streets are all clearly color-coded so you don't get confused while driving. Of course, the emphasized road-width presentation helps complement the improved color-coding. Some might refer to the road-width emphasis as the actual road size being rendered proportionally, which is not the case as much as I can tell.

Need for space
And for those of you who have an acute sense of observation, you might have noticed one of the most requested improvements other than the geographical features - full screen mode. It's arguable whether the use of the title bar and menu bar display areas adds much usability, but for 3D mode display, the additional map real estate does help in cramming in more route vision farther ahead thanks to the perspective viewing angle. One little nice touch on top of this improved feature is that the display is switched automatically from full screen mode normal display when your vehicle comes to a stop, revealing the title bar and the menu bar, presumably ready for the driver's input. It then switches back to the full screen mode a few seconds after your vehicle starts moving. A little touch like this goes a long way in usability.

A virtual ride
The one feature that was not present in previous versions of intelliNav is the ability to simulate navigating a route. Notice the 'Start Demo' menu option in the snapshot. This is not new to GPS navigation software but intelliNav seems to have done a good job with this feature.

Click on the image on the right to play the video in an external player - size is 2Mb

This feature is especially helpful for people like me who are writing a review and need some good snapshots but also want to keep their hands on the steering wheel while driving ;-) It is also great for simulating the route before going on a long trip so you can decide where to detour and which road to avoid before going on the road. The demo/simulation appears to run at 56mph throughout the routes I tried for some reason, which is, nevertheless, a reasonable simulation speed. There might be a threshold for the vehicle speed to change under simulation, perhaps based on the length of the route. I have no way of verifying this since the demo map I have contains only map data from North California, USA so there's no way for me to come up with a 'long' route (Ed - No change with larger maps). A nice addition, anyway.

Now where is that restaurant?
A GPS navigation software without a good set of Point-Of-Interest is always lacking, although I have gotten into the habit of maintaining a set of addresses in my Pocket Outlook database. But a good set of POIs is always a welcome improvement. This set of updated POIs certainly appears to be a much larger database than its predecessor.

The snapshots show some sub-categories of the new POI database. Here are some more:

I randomly tried and searched some local restaurants, museums, attractions, etc. and found that the POI database is fairly complete. The reason I used the word "fairly" is because I failed to locate the address of a local Italian restaurant that has been at its current location for at least 5 years. Also, my company has moved over to San Jose for almost 8 years but the 'business' address I found in the POI database still has the old address of some 7 years ago. I am sure this is an area where significant improvement can happen over time (Ed - POIs are provided together with the maps by Navteq).

Even though the completeness and accuracy of the POI still leaves something to be desired, there are significant improvements in the POI search capability that I'd like to point out.

First improvement in the new POI category of 'City Center'. I personally don't know the real value of this new category but I guess it's valuable for tourists visiting new cities and such.

The second improvement is the addition of a new search function accessible form the intelliNav keyboard which acts like the 'Find Next' function on your desktop software applications. It is the magnifier key above the 'X' key in the snapshot above. As an example, as seen in the snapshot, I typed in 'SA' then continued to click on the magnifier key so that the search engine starts iterating through all POIs in this category that has the 'SA' character pattern in its name. This is a really convenient addition that help accelerate locating a specific POI. Again, a little nice touch that goes a long way in usability. By the way, intelliNav seems to have improved the POI database search speed noticeably in this release.

Another search improvement is the new 'List All' function accessible from the POI options screen. It used to be quite a limitation as well as being time consuming for you to have to search into certain POI category either by entering the city the target POI is in, or by distance. It's a pity, though, that this 'List All' search function does not work across POI categories. I speculate that this has to do with performance impact and memory management complexity with the expanded database size.

Show me the way home
The most important features of a GPS navigation software are, without a doubt, its routing and guidance capabilities. intelliNav is known for generating some of the best quality routes of all the portable GPS navigation software available. The improved road-width presentation and new color-coding scheme makes following the navigation directions even more effortless. A new bell tone unobtrusively precedes every turn to remind the driver of such events, which is a nice complement to the voice announcement.

Two issues are worth mentioning here regarding the navigation functionality.

The first issue is, I suppose, common to all portable GPS navigation systems. The issue is the orientation of the heading-up map presentation at GPS startup and when the vehicle comes to a (temporary) stop. The orientation of your heading is quite subtle to determine at GPS startup. In fact, without the help of an integrated gyro-sensor of some sort, this is simply an intrinsic disadvantage of portable GPS navigation systems.

The second issue (as illustrated by the snapshots below) is that intelliNav appears too aggressive in re-routing under certain circumstances such as when the route leads through an area where complicated webs of elevated highways interweave, confusing the navigation engine into a busy state of continuous route recalculation. I'll bet you won't find this entertaining during a real trip. This is a must-fix. I'd say be conservative about re-routing (lazy-reroute?) in such areas since if the driver gets the wrong route near such area, it doesn't help much to recalculate the new route immediately because more often than not, the next available off-ramp where you can possibly turn around to the new route is some distance away where there's enough time for a late recalculation of a new route. In the cases illustrated below, the aggressive route recalculation actually confuses, rather than helps, the driver.

LEFT: the voice announcement misses/skips a very important 'Keep left' reminder but instead announces 'In .7 miles, keep right', which can easily lead the driver into the wrong branch of the ramp to the right.
MIDDLE: At this point, a recalculation occurs since the overlapping highways confuses the navigation engine. It in turn confuses the driver.
RIGHT: A second recalculation occurs at this point, which further confuses the driver.

On another note, the route generation seems much faster in this release. Then again, my test map is small compared to what I have loaded with intelliNav 1.1 so this could affect the routing performance (Ed - Confirmed with larger maps). Depending on how intelliNav handles the map data, the size of the map may impact memory requirement which in turn impacts routing efficiency.

Why can't I just press the buttons?
Well, in this release of intelliNav, you can. At least for some predefined activities, you can now map them to the hardware buttons available on your Pocket PC device. This functionality is only accessible from the 'Tools/Hotkey Options' menu item, which brings up the button mapping dialog. There are a bunch of predefined functions that you can map to available hardware buttons. But some may find the predefined functions incomplete. For example, it'd be more convenient to have a function like 'Route to favorites' or 'Route to contacts' which brings up the 'Favorites' or 'Contacts' dialog for destination selection.

To buy or not to buy? That is the question.
If you find it difficult to make up your mind between several contenders, I wholeheartedly recommend intelliNav 2.0. This product continues to improve on usability which is to me the single most important factor in a GPS navigation software. By the way, it doesn't get any better than having both Pocket PC version and desktop (Windows) version of the same great GPS navigation software with the cost comparable to all other competing products on the market. In some cases, the combo is even cheaper than some that only has a Pocket PC version. So you're asking why you need a desktop version. Well, it doesn't hurt to be able to plan your trip on a desktop environment or occasionally use it to look up a driving direction which is way better than what you get from the (free, I know) online services. And if Netropa continues to synchronize the functionality in both versions in parity, you can even simulate your trip on a desktop/laptop machine.

For those of you who have been awaiting to upgrade, I can only tell you that I am already standing in line...


You can direct general questions/comments to this thread of the general forums and direct specific version questions to the iGuidance, Routis and PrymeNav forums!

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