Reviewing palmOne GPS Solution Zire 72 Edition (part 3)

by Volker Weber

[continued from part 2]

Over the weekend I played some more with the navigation software. Big surprise: I am starting to like it. :-) My final verdict will be much better than my initial impression. Before we get to the fun part however I maintain that two things are broken. The first one can easily be fixed, the second one will need a substantial rewrite of the waypoint selection subsystem.

1. Mapsonic never gives up bugging you about the missing GPS receiver. There is no "shut up now" button. What you learn however is to hit the "No GPS" status bar field and quickly deactivate the GPS receiver function. You can do that within 3 seconds before it bugs you again. I suspect that many customers never get to that point and give up. Persistence pays here.

2. Address entry is tedious. The dialogs are too many, the font is too small, and there are no favorites. It is dearly missing a default location for home. All of the other systems I tested have that and it is very convenient when you are in a foreign city and want to get back on the highway. That would be four finger taps in TomTom: Hit map, Navigate to, Home, OK. With MapSonic you need to take the unit out of the cradle, pick the stylus, Menu, Addresses, Select your card, To MapSonic, OK, OK, OK, Navigation Mode, put the stylus back, put the unit back into the cradle. Just too much hassle. Upside: You can use the addresses. TomTom still needs to learn that on the Palm while it can do that on the PocketPC already.

And now for the good stuff ...

MapSonic shows a very detailed map. You can use the instructions that it generates from its routing even if you do not even have a GPS receiver. There is a split screen with very clear instructions that will scroll the map to the appropriate location if you select the instruction.

The navigation screen is both beautiful and detailed. It will automatically zoom as you approach turns in the route and adjusts its field of view to your current speed. You can also customize all the secondary information like current speed, estimated time of arrival and such.

vmmv01.png vmmv02.png vmmv03.png vmmv04.png

Before you hit me: I know you must not drive 70 km/h on Heidelberger Straße. This is a simulation. :-)

One of the things that puzzled me was the system to enter an address. You select top down from Europe, then country, state, city. I was baffled when I wanted to select a street within Frankfurt and it presented me with a list of parts of the city. I wondered who would know in which part of the city a street would be. What you see here is the French origins of the software: Europe, France, Département 75, Paris, Arrondissement, Quartier.

vmae01.png vmae02.png

It turns out you don't need to select all the way through to the lowest level. It is just as fine to select Frankfurt and then go on entering the street name.

[continued in part 4]


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