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Large Maps and Impurities

24th August 2002

Article by Dave Burrows

 

For ages I've been rambling on to the effect "Why can't we get a single map, why do we have to be forced to loading a new map for each area of the country we visit ?".  Since then TomTom have now brought out what I'd call the ultimate map.  It's 84mb in size, and covers the whole of the UK, and it's a dream to use!  No changing map whenever I drive to a neighbouring city, or when I get out on to the motorway, and I don't reach a location to find that I've forgotten to load the map before commencing my journey!  I also don't have to switch applications between a street atlas, and a city map, but is it better ?

 

The quick and simple answer is YES!  Much less hassle!  However over the past several weeks we have started noticing various subtleties.  Unfortunately to get the maps down to 84mb in size, there has to be some compromises, and those compromises seem to be in data.  Specifically when you're zoomed out.

 

We took 4 screen shots from the various GPS applications that we've tested, primarily from left to right (PowerLOC Destinator, SmartPath Trips, SmartPath City, and TomTom Navigator).  Now the main two screen shots we're interested in are the latter two (SmartPath City, TomTom Navigator).  You'll see here, as the new TomTom Navigator has really taken SmartPath Trips and City (aka TomTom RoutePlanner and CityMaps) and amalgamated the two and included up to date map data, you would think that the detail would be even greater on TomTom Navigator ?  This isn't so, and you'll actually see at roughly the same zoom levels that TomTom Navigator actually has less detail than it's predecessor at 50-60% zoom.  The maps have also been changed somewhat, as now you'll see on the new TomTom Navigator that you don't have an expanse of ocean below where the cursor is on the map.

 

Is this a good thing or a bad thing ?

 

Well it really depends on how you want to use your maps.  Most of us want to have very high amounts of detail, in which case, TomTom Navigator excels, however if you'd rather have a less detailed map in the form of a street atlas, then TomTom Navigator may not be ideal application.  It really comes down to Apples and Oranges.  Which do you prefer ?

 

Personally, I prefer the better maps on TomTom Navigator, but it's something as a reviewer we decided that we should bring to everyone's attention.

 

 

Click for large view.

Click maps to Enlarge

 

Whilst we're on the subject of map impurities, there have been a few posts in the forums with incorrect map data on TomTom Navigator, especially for the Isle of Wight and Wales, which subsequently causes incorrect route planning to occur.  TomTom are currently investigating these problems, please see this message for further details. 

 

We've also noticed some strange entities on the map.  Take for instance the Isle of Wight, it's an island south of Southampton, West of Portsmouth and East of Bournemouth.  It's surrounded by sea (called the Solent), but on the map (and I've highlighted it in a circle), there seems to be this long block of an island that has now taken up root between the Isle of Wight and Lee On Solent.  Now you could put this down to compression, but hears the strange thing.  It was higher up on previous versions of TomTom CityMaps, and now it's moved South East.  The expanses within the circle, you can quite easily see when comparing the two maps should be sea, blue, and although it doesn't make much difference to navigation on land, which is what the maps are used for, it does show the map impurities in the maps provided to TomTom from the mapping company TeleAtlas

 

So although we've highlighted these problems in TomTom Navigator, it's not necessarily a problem that TomTom can control, as they receive the map data from their mapping supplier TeleAtlas.

 

However, with these impurities in mind, TomTom Navigator is still the best GPS software package on the Pocket PC to date, and does have comprehensive detail in all of it's maps.  Nothing is ever perfect, and that's why there are always new releases of products available in the future!

 

 

 

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