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PromaSoft GPSAssist v1.1.80

13th January 2003

 Reviewed by Dave Burrows

 Author's Website http://www.autoreplying.com/gpsassist.htm

 Price $27

  

Since TomTom have released their SDK (Software Development Kit) to developers, there have been many developers starting to create add-in products for TomTom Navigator to try and address the features that aren't already included which users are crying out for and to enhance upon the original Navigator features.  PromaSoft have done just this and created GPSAssist.   Some of the key features people have been asking for are Pocket Outlook integration, POI implementations and Speed Camera support, and now thankfully PromaSoft have addressed these features. 

 

GPSAssist

GPSAssist is a new product from PromaSoft and has an impressive feature list.  We originally started looking at this in mid December, but PromaSoft has added many more features now to GPSAssist, we decided it would probably be best to re-start the review to bring it up to date with the current version.  Some of the features included within GPSAssist are:-

  • Seamless integration of Microsoft Pocket Outlook contacts.

  • Easy access to all function for safest driving conditions

  • Speed alert with six predefined speeds

  • Automatic day to night colors switching based on sunrise and sunset times

  • Program hardware buttons to perform almost any task in both Tom Tom Navigator and GPSAssist

  • POI Recorder to record points of interest

  • Quick Navigate to function

  • Points Of Interest Manager

  • Points Of Interest Detector

  • Auto Volume Control

  • OV2 Supported Natively (no need to use OV2 convert programs)

Prerequisites

GPSAssist for TomTom Navigator requires following components

  • TomTom Navigator for Pocket PC version 1.42 or higher. The preferred version is 1.50

  • Pocket PC with the Windows CE operating system (Pocket PC 2002)

  • Arm processor. 95% of all Pocket PCs are equipped with this type of processor (no MIPS processor support even though TomTom support MIPS with Navigator)

 

GPSAssist Option Screens

When you run up GPSAssist for the first time TomTom Navigator will automatically be started.  Allowing full integration between the two products.

 

If you switch to the GPSAssist screen, you'll be greeted with a main menu.  From within you'll find a plethora of menus and options which you wouldn't have thought was even remotely possible.  It looks like TomTom have really gone home with their SDK allowing developers to customise nearly anything, and it certainly shows in GPSAssist!  Everything that could be configurable, is configurable! 

 

The first thing which will strike you is that day to day functions that need to be used are all highlighted on the main menu with large buttons allowing easy access.  From here you'll see options like Contacts, POI Recorder, POI Manager and POI Detector.  Along with Point to Point routing, Speed Limits, Sun rise/set and more options! 

 

Contacts Integration

GPSAssist Contacts Integration is a useful feature, but it's been implemented in a strange way to how you would think Contacts would be integrated.  Confused ?  Let me explain a little.

 

In packages like CoPilot or Destinator you have the option of calling up an address straight out of your Pocket Outlook database and navigate to this.  TomTom Navigator doesn't support contact navigation directly, so GPSAssist has implemented this, but it's not how you would imagine this.

 

To navigate to a contact in your Pocket Outlook database you have to do a little work first.  You first of all have to find the address within TomTom Navigator, mark this as a favourite.  Once it's marked as a favourite, you can then tell GPSAssist to mark this favourite you've created to a contact in your Address Book.  What this will then do, if you've got a favourite in TomTom Navigator called Mike and you have a Pocket Outlook contact called Mike Smith, then what will happen when you match/marry the two together, you will then see a contact in GPSAssist called Mike Smith (like in Pocket Outlook).  If you choose to navigate to this newly matched contact, it will use the GPS co-ordinates assigned to Mike in the favourites of TomTom Navigator but it will also display the address that has been picked up from Pocket Outlook. Although this is a very useful feature for many, if you have more than a dozen contacts, setting these up initially will be a little time consuming at first. 

 

 

Point to Point

GPSAssist has a Point to Point feature.  Now this is a great feature.  One thing TomTom Navigator and other GPS users have been crying out for is routing between points, or stop off points.  GPSAssist now allows for this to be achieved through the Point to Point feature.

 

Point to Point gives you an unlimited amount of stop offs on your journey, the first item is your starting point or departure, the last is your end point or destination, and everything between are stops you can make.  This really brings TomTom Navigator now to the forefront of all the GPS Products allowing you to route from A to D via B and C.

 

I must say I am REALLY excited about this feature!  When you get close to the destination, GPSAssist will mark that point as Visited.  Once visited, it will then plot the new destination for the next waypoint/POI and take you onto this.  You also have the option of unvisiting any of the items along your destination and to move up or down the stop off points allowing you to re-prioritise your journey.

 

POI Recorder

This is one of the strong points of GPSAssist.   POI's can be handled in one of two ways.  Either to a straight ASC file allowing you to share POI's with others, or to the GPSAssist integrated database.  We've found the best way is to save them to the GPSAssist database. 

 

Creating POI's in TomTom Navigator is difficult at best, firstly you need to hold the map still (difficult when driving), then go into several menu screens before you can add the POI.  With GPSAssist, it's simple, just hit the RECORD button, you will receive a chime to say the record has been added, that's it!  Pure simplicity!  

 

Within this screen you can easily create New POI files, and select which POI file you want to add your POI's to.  You might want to have one POI database for Speed Cameras, one for Hotels, one for Petrol Stations, and the beauty is you can keep them all separate.

 

POI Manager

Once you've created your POI Database and you've got a nice selection of POI's, say Speed Camera Locations (which I think is one of the popular reasons why people want to use POI's at the moment), then you can run up the POI Manager.

 

Within the POI Manager again every option you can think of is configurable!  You can set a sound warning file and play it to see if it's the one you would like to set.

 

You can set the Warning Distances in seconds for the first and second warning.

 

You can set the alerts to be triggered if you go above the set speed, and you can fully synchronize the POI's with TomTom Navigator's OV2 file.

 

If you choose to Edit Points In List then you'll be taken to a POI screen that will list each of the Lat and Long of the POI's you have recorded in the POI Recorded screen.  In the POI Manager you also have the option of entering a description against each POI recorded which will help you recall which POI you may want to delete in future.  This can come in handy if you've setup a POI to a mobile speed camera, say in road works, the road works then eventually complete, and you'll never see a mobile GATSO here again, so this feature can come in very handy to jog your memory of the POI in question and give you the option of deleting the POI if you wish.

 

Also within the POI Manager you have the options of importing and exporting POI's (this is using GPSAssist's POI files), so in theory you could merge POI's here into a single database.

 

Now, you'll see a MAP button here.  This is the feature I really love!  Highlight a POI, click the MAP button, and it will take you to where the POI is on the map!  This is a superb feature, and for me would be an immensely useful feature!  Trying to track down where a POI is using Lon/Lat's are always a pain, and GPSAssist makes it a doddle!

 

 

POI Detector

So you've seen the POI Recorder and Manager, now we have the Detector. 

 

The POI Detector allows you to select the POI Databases you want to use and make these Active.  Simply select the POI List you want to have activated, and press the Activate Selected and an X will appear next to the POI.

 

This now puts GPSAssist into monitoring mode.  GPSAssist will automatically check the GPS co-ordinates that it's receiving from TomTom Navigator and as soon as it can see you are approaching one of your POI's you've recorded, you will be alerted to it. 

 

Bearing in mind that probably the main thing this will be used for is Speed Cameras (although it can be used for other POI's), this works very well!

 

Speed Limit

This is something I've been using on both TrafCam and Destinator 2 recently, having the ability to be warned if you go over the speed limit.  Like TrafCam, you have the ability whilst driving to set your speed warning levels.

 

It's easily to speed on roads today with the busy and hectic schedule, and getting stuck in traffic.  When you've just entered a motorway for instance, press the speed warning box on the TomTom Navigator screen, and the Speed Warning screen in GPSAssist will pop up.  Simply press the required speed button (which is configurable) to the desired speed limit, then press the Navigator button.  Simple as that.  You'll then be taken back to TomTom Navigator, and when you drift over the speed limit, you will be warned!

 

Sunrise and Sunset

One complaint from a lot of people is driving at night time in full brightness of your Pocket PC.  To be honest, it really doesn't bother me too much, I suppose it's something I've got used to over time, but it does bother a lot of people. 

 

Luckily TomTom put a night time mode into Navigator allowing you to switch between daytime and night time settings, but it's still a manual task!  Not now!  This is where GPSAssist comes in for the kill yet again!  With the Sun option from the main menu, you can set the sunrise and sunset times of the day, but it's not configurable!  You can't enter the times yourself, it's based on your GPS co-ordinates!

 

When setting the Auto Colours to ON, GPSAssist will then automatically switch TomTom Navigator into the Night display mode, when you go past the Sunset time, or back into daytime mode when you pass the Sunrise time.  Pretty ingenious!

 

Extra Settings

GPSAssist really does have so many settings, it's difficult to remember them all.  PromaSoft really have made sure that everything that's included in GPSAssist is customisable and it shows!

 

You've even got options for Automatic Volume Control, Immediate Navigation after Selection, and for POI Detection not only the first and second warning distance, but a detection angle so you only pick up POI's that are on the road you are travelling on.

 

It's hard to imagine all of these features until you really do start using GPSAssist, and everything becomes clear!

 

Hardware Button Assignments

GPSAssist also excels by allowing you to set a hardware button mapping function to nearly any TomTom Navigator feature including:-

  • [Default]: the original function of the button.

  • Show GPSAssist: will show the GPSAssist main menu

  • Show Navigator: will show the Navigate window of TTN

  • Show Map: will show the Map window of TTN

  • Navigate Home: will navigate to your ‘Home’ favourite

  • Recalculate: will recalculate the route (TTN Function)

  • Night Colours: will switch to night colours

  • Day Colours: will switch to day colours

  • Exit: will exit GPSAssist

  • Show Exits: will show the next highway exit in the TTN navigate window

  • Hide Exits: will hide the next highway exit in the TTN navigate window

  • Show POI: will show the selected Points of interest (TTN Function)

  • Hide POI: will hide the selected Points of interest (TTN Function)

  • Sound On: will turn of TTN sound

  • Sound Off: will turn on TTN sound

  • Disable Guidance: will disable TTN guidance

  • Enable Guidance: will enable TTN guidance

  • Show Compass: will show the compass in the TTN navigate window

  • Hide Compass: will hide the compass in the TTN navigate window

  • Show Favourites: will show TTN favourites on the map

  • Hide Favourites: will hide TTN favourites on the map

  • POI Recorder: will show the GPSAssist POI recorder window

  • Record POI: will record a Point of Interest

  • Speed Limit: will show the GPSAssist Speed limit window

  • Navigate To: will show the GPSAssist navigate to window

  • Contacts: will show the GPSAssist contacts window

  • Sunrise: will show the GPSAssist sunrise and sunset time window

  • Speed Limit Lowest: will select the lowest speed alert setting

  • Speed Limit 2: will select the 2nd speed alert setting

  • Speed Limit 3: will select the 3rd speed alert setting

  • Speed Limit 4: will select the 4th speed alert setting

  • Speed Limit 5: will select the 5th speed alert setting

  • Speed Limit highest: will select the highest speed alert setting

 

How does GPSAssist integrate into TomTom Navigator ?

GPSAssist integrates very well.  When you're running TomTom Navigator, in normal Navigator screen mode, you really don't notice any difference until a POI or speed limit is triggered.  When you start to approach a POI, you will see a POI red/green bar at the bottom of the screen.  The closer you get to the POI, the more red you will see in this bar to warn you of the distance and you will also receive audible notification with the WAV file you select.  By default the POI icon shows as a 20, but you can change this by exporting to an OV2 file and placing a BMP file in the same directory.

 

 

GPSAssist really is a product within it's own right, although it is a plug-in to TomTom Navigator.  If you took TomTom Navigator and GPSAssist, then you have everything you really need that TomTom should have added to Navigator and much much more.  GPSAssist road tests very well, and is a dream to use, although sometimes you can find that the Pocket PC does slow down a little through some of the menus when POI Detection is enabled and you are driving a map, although this should be expected because you are essentially running two applications at the same time.

 

Integrated Help Support

GPSAssist 1.180 and above now contains integrated Pocket PC Support.  The original support pages were available on the main GPSAssist website, but now these are available on the Pocket PC too, so you can always check the manuals if you are unsure of how to get into a feature when you're out and about.

 

Conclusion

GPSAssist costs $27 and really is worth every penny!  Although TomTom may look at integrating many of these new features into newer versions of Navigator sometime in the future, get these features now by purchasing GPSAssist!.  GPSAssist works very well, it's productive, and it makes TomTom Navigator even better. 

 

If you're looking to use GPSAssist for Speed Camera Notification, it will work well, but it doesn't contain a country-wide database of Speed Cameras, you have to download these yourself from various sources, which will result in either not having a complete country-wide database of Speed Cameras, or having a trustworthy database.  GPSAssist will allow you to create your own POI databases and share them with other TomTom Navigator users, so there is no reason why we can't all get together and start mapping out the country!

The only major downside I would say is that ARM processors are the only supported processors.  TomTom Navigator does support MIPS processors also, and I do still have a Casio E125 which is in active use and  unfortunately won't run GPSAssist as of v1.1.80 which is a shame.

If you have any questions regarding GPSAssist, why not visit the TomTom Navigator Forum.

 

Please note, like many of our reviews written prior to WM2003 (July 2003), this review was written prior to WM2003 and this version has not been tested under WM2003.  Check this thread for more details.

 

Conclusion

Author's Website

http://www.autoreplying.com/gpsassist.htm

Pocket GPS Reviewer

Dave Burrows

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website

Dave Burrows.com

Rating 94%

 

 

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