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Reviewed : Route 66 Navigate 7 USA
Posté le 14 juillet 2006 ŕ 17:58:30 par gpspassion.

Route 66 Navigate 7 for Pocket PC

Here's a review by cgavula, a member of GpsPasSion since 2002 (#125 !) and experienced PocketPC GPS user who will share his experience with Route 66 Navigate 7 for Pocket PC by Route 66. They are also releasing a Mobile 7 version for Windows Mobile Smarpthones with the same feature set, and the existing Mobile 7 version for Nokia phones is similar other than not allowing for custom POIs to be imported. Route 66 is also one of the rare programs to offer coverage for China

If you have questions or comments, you can use this thread of the software forums.

Route66 Navigate 7 for PocketPC is Route 66’s latest entry into the PPC navigation arena. It offers some interesting features, like a fuzzy-logic address lookup and a revamped interface to make using with your fingers a little easier. The Navigate 7 package also included a nice SiRF III receiver.

I installed Navigate 7 on my hp hx4705. Installation from the included memory card was a breeze – things happened pretty automatically, really very impressive – but beware – if you have to stop the installation (or something goes wrong), the process does NOT clean itself up correctly. This means reinstalling from the card becomes nearly impossible (because it believes it was already installed). You can still reinstall from the disks, but the data card needs to have the “image” moved back onto it as well. This installation error actually kept me from installing it on my Cingular 8125. Let me also note – the disk is a DVD, so make sure you have a DVD reader on your PC before you purchase this app! The activation as a little annoying, and sometimes it reappears (not every time, though). It requires a web connection to activate (the first time).

One thing that was quickly apparent was that the application is NOT VGA aware (but you can get part of the way there) so I had to run it in traditional 240 by 320 mode. Generally, the app started quickly and triggered the included BT receiver quickly (and worked well with other BT receivers I had). A certain percentage of the time, the app would not start up correctly. It seemed unable to find its files (installed on the SD card). A soft reset was necessary to correct the situation. This was one of a few small “glitches” that gave the program a somewhat “unfinished” feel.

You can create routes on the fly (from where you are) or in more of a planning mode (where you can see the completed route list). You enter the planning mode by clicking anywhere on the screen (to bring up the menus) and choosing the “Plan a Route” icon. You’ll be asked for the departure location and the destination location. From there you’ll se the overview of your route. You can choose to see the list of steps in the route (the route list). I found the summary at the top of the route list to be interesting – in a sample route that should have been a 8 or 9 hour drive, it estimated the total trip time to be a little over 5 and a half hours. Clearly the ETA estimations over a long route are not optimized very well (ED - to correct ETA errors you can adjust individual speeds by road type, although ETA should be closer to reality out of the box). I wasn’t sure if the individual steps were showing me the time to execute the steps, or the time since the beginning of the trip that each step occurs – not clearly marked – and definitely not accurate in any case. I think it’s also important to note that the route list (and other overview items) can’t be carried over into the navigation mode. They’re simply not available there. That will be a problem for some folk.

Entering addresses for routes is a little unusual, but once you’ve adjusted to it you realize that that address entry is actually much quicker than with many navigation apps. This is because only need to enter part of the address. It guesses, based on what you types and based on where you are currently located, what your most likely destination choice should be. This appears in small type at the bottom of the entry screen. It took me a minute to realize this. At first, I thought I was seeing way to many partial answers and I couldn’t tell one from the next. The currently selected choice is the one that appears at the bottom of the screen. Once selected, route creation (or rerouting, if necessary) is VERY fast. Possibly one of the fastest I’ve seen, but I suspect part of the reason for that is the limitations of the maps, which I’ll discuss a little later on. As a side note, I found I do better when I DON’T try to enter the entire address. Sometimes when I included city and state it couldn’t find the result I needed, but if I didn’t enter them, the desired destination popped up in the list of possibilities. Odd, but it keeps in with the idea of needing to enter less when the fuzzy logic is used.


The navigation screen is generally clearly laid out. The display is attractive, but, again, there’s no VGA support, which would have made the display on the 4705 outstanding.
What was a little unclear is that, near the bottom of the display, the picture on the left is your next step, and the one on the right the step after that (as well as the distance until that step). When I fist used the app, I thought, at one point, it was giving me contradictory instructions! On the top of the display you will see exit numbers as well as the “common” name for the road represented by the exit. This isn’t always consistently implemented, as it’s relatively new in Navteq maps, but it’s nice to see it implemented and helpful since it allows you to match instruction to actual signs that appear on the road. My only complaint - I’d like to see the exit “name” appear earlier in the announcement process. It really pops up near the last few seconds, especially at highway speeds.

Navigation was generally pretty good (using Navteq maps, Q1/2006 per Route 66), but there were a few glitches. For example, when routing to/from my home, the application insisted in sending me through the neighborhood in a stair-step pattern rather than using the main roads to the neared access into my neighborhood. I don’t understand this behaviour – it certainly wasn’t the fastest route (which I had chosen as my route type) but I did manage to get there. A couple of features were missing: There was no road/segment avoidance feature. Not often a critical failure for me, but for some people it will be a showstopper. This is a common feature in navigation programs at this price point and its lack may make it more difficult for Route 66 in this market. To implement, of course, they’d almost have to carry the route list function out of the separate “plan a route” mode and into the navigation mode, but the design of the user interface (the burying of the planning function) seems to indicate that this is unlikely without a significant change to the program.

The navigation instructions were spoken, but only in general terms – street names are not spoken (no text-to-speech/TTS features). One feature I liked was the announcement of upcoming maneuvers and a reference to keep going, when it seemed appropriate. Having said that, there is a minor problem relating to the Navteq maps that some other Navteq-based apps seem to have. The problem is that the app believes a freeway name change requires the announcement of another step. I-94 is called I-94 or the Ford freeway. At one point, somehow, Navteq map data thinks the name changes from the Ford freeway, to I-94, back to the Ford freeway, back to I-94. I’ve seen a couple of programs with this behaviour now and it always generates lots of route steps that are unnecessary. Also – there’s at least one point where it believes a curve in the road is an exit (requiring a route step) even though there is no change of freeways, yet in a different circumstance, where you REALLY are changing freeways, there is no step – no announcement. None of these conditions keeps you from reaching your destination.

The other thing I noticed is that Route66 doesn’t handle power on/off cycling well. When on a highway trip, I’ll often turn off the PPC/receiver when at a rest stop. Then I turn it back on when I start to go again. Many navigation apps handle this pretty well – TomTom, for example doesn’t have a problem with this 90-95% of the time. Route66 never seems to handle this well. I’ve seen in completely freeze up; sometimes it’s asked me for my activation code again; sometimes it’s saying that files are missing. Part of the original spec for PocketPC apps from Microsoft was that they are supposed to handle being shut off and on - this is not good. My guess is that the problem is likely related to the fact that navigation programs use the serial port to communicate with most receivers and serial ports are one of the least robust things about a PPC. Despite that, most apps still manage to recover – Navigate 7 is NOT one of them. In my situation, I was never able to recover from the failure until I soft-reset the PocketPC.

Let me talk about the receiver for a minute. The receiver is nice and small and SiRF III, meaning nice quick startups and solid signal locking (ED - it is the Royaltek RBT-2001, reviewed here in its 2010 version). I only have one small complaint – where a lot of vendors are moving to mini-USB charging cables, Route66 is still using a somewhat proprietary one (USB on one end, proprietary on the other. I’d like to see a switch to a standard mini-USB connector. It makes it easier when traveling to need fewer cables!

Looking at map coverage. I was using the USA edition, which covers the continental United States as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Maps are divided into regions, much as TomTom and others do, but there is no nationwide map or highway map available, making long-distance routing difficult, and routing across maps impossible. If long distance routes (our routes across the available maps) are necessary, this is not the program for you. Also note – the maps were a little bit on the large size, especially when I can get a detailed OCN5/MN|5 US map to fit in under 1GB. 500MB for the Midwest is a little large. Route66 could do a little more in the realm of map data compression.

I did not have the opportunity to work with TMC, but occasionally, there was an icon for traffic/construction on my screen. I’m not certain if it was trying to tell me there was information available (via the internet and my GPRS link, which I use with TomTom) or if it was more of a generic “get information” button. Based on info I’ve seen on this website, I’m inclined to believe the latter is actually true.ED - yes Route 66 have confirmed that TMC is not available at this time in the USA, but they do offer coverage in 11 European countries.

Overall I liked the program, it has some wonderful features and a nice, clean approach (visually), but I am likely to use it only as a secondary backup to my main applications. The reason? It’s a little too unreliable at times and doesn’t handle on/off conditions at all gracefully. This is just unworkable for me and a bit of a disappointment considering some of the advanced features included. Also, I think the separation of the planning function from the routing function (and lack of carryover of route-list, incorrect trip times by default, lack of segment avoidance) is a also indicative of a program that didn’t enjoy enough user and design testing. The end result is an “unfinished” feel to the program. Lastly, there really should, at this level, be some kind of national highway maps for long-haul routing. It’s not a bad effort, but in this market, that may not be enough. With a little improvement, could become a serious contender in the market, but as it is, it looks a lot like a beta version waiting to be finished.

Route66 Navigate 7 for PPC is available from Route 66 (or a number of other retailers both online and brick and mortar such as Semsons where GpsPasSion Club members get 10% off). The software only version is $149 USD and the kit (including the receiver) is $299. Also the website is a list of confirmed compatible PPCs.

If you have questions or comments, you can use this thread of the software forums.

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