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Monday, March 12, 2007

iGuidance 3 review

iGuidance 3 for UMPC

In the last few months I have been testing some GPS Software in my UMPC looking for the best or at least one that could be easily used in this kind of device.

The Competence

I tested Microsoft Street and Trips 2006 and it did not convinced me.It was not optimized at all to be used in a car. In another hand, simple tasks like just change the route needed to interact with multiple screens with normal side buttons that needed the stylus to click on them. In another hand, inversion 2006, there was not a full screen option so the area left for the map in the screen was too small. Microsoft changed a few thing in version 2007 but still far from being a good car companion. One thing that I did not like at all was the fact that this program did not have a 3D view. I find that the 3D view helps me a lot while I'm driving, probably is a psychological thing but I feel that by looking at that view I can have a better idea of where I'm.

The above screen shot illustrates how difficult would be to change with yourfinger any option in your current route.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Another point I did not like of this program is that I had to load all maps in my UMPC. That took more than 1 GB of space from my HDD.

The second software that I tested was Copilot 9. This program was alot better than Microsoft's Street and Trips. Copilot was designed specially to be used in a car, so the user interface was a lot easier to use, it has big buttons so I could use it with my fingers without having to use the Stylus.

10

One of the problems that I found with this program is that it was not designed for 800x480, I had to switch to 800x600 to used. I tested it using the USB Phillips GPS that came with the software and I found that the GPS did not work not as good as my BT TomTom GPS. Phillips GPS lost the signal very easily in one occasion that I stopped for Gas even when there was plenty of clear sky view. I have not been able to see any satellites from my bedroom with the GPS close to a windows when with my BT TomTom GPS in that same windows I can see at least 4 satellites.

Another point that I did not like from Copilot is that, as you can see in the above screen shot, a big portion of the screen was used by buttons and other information and as result the space left for the map was too small. Copilot Maps have to be loaded to your HDD so that will take a big junk of it.

You can check more Copilot 9 screen shots here.

iGuidance 3

The first thing that I noticed in iGuidance 3 is that it gives you the option to load only those States Maps that you want into your HDD. That will save you some HDD space. The second point that impressed me was that it was designed to fit perfectly in a 800x480 resolution.

IG1

As you can see from the above screen, developers managed to use the whole screen including transparent messages or areas on top of the actual map. Buttons are located too on top of the map and they have a perfect side to be used with your fingers.

A Menu Button on the left side of the screen gives you access to all the other screens that you need to set your Destination, to select a shortcuts to point of interests, to look to your Itinerary or change the main settings of the program.

ig2menu


Typing an address with your finger does not represent any problem in iGuidance. The on screen keyboard was designed to be used in that way.


id3keyboard


iGuidance UI was completely designed to be used while you are driving. Something completely different than in Copilot or Microsoft Street and Trips where part of the program used the normal Windows UI which is not touch friendly. The above screen shows how easy is to change the Destination.


igdestmenu


The configuration screens in iGuidance are also very easy to use. They did not use the traditional check boxes or radio buttons; they used buttons that changed to a Gold Color to let you know what option was selected. A very clever solution.


igdisplayop


Another option that I like very much and I did not see it in any of the other two programs that I checked is the Demo option. iGuidance lets you to virtually go through your route like if you were in your car connected to your GPS. The above video shows you the demo mode running and it can give you a very good idea of how this program works. The voice in this video does not feel as clear as it's in real life. Another thing that I noticed is that the arrow went out of the route in the corners, something that does not happen in real life when you are using the program connected to your GPS.

Video: iGuidance running in a UMPC



Conclusion

iGuidance from iNav is so far the best GPS software that I have tested for UMPC. For a little more than 100 dollars you receive a DVD with versions of the program for Pocket PC, UMPC, and Laptop. If you want to have these options from Copilot you will be asked to pay for each one of them. I found Copilot to better than current version of iGuidenace in just one point, Copilot 10 includes Real Time Traffic Report if your UMPC is connected to Internet while iGuidance only includes Real Time Weather Report, of course, having Internet Connection in your Car you can have a traffic report by switching to Google Maps, a free service recently added by Google.