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Luxury Villa at Watersong Davenport, Orlando, Florida for rent

Mapopolis ClearRoute Review

10th June 2003

 Review by Lutz Bendlin

 

What has changed?

Since there is already a very detailed Mapopolis review for version 3.18 here, this review will mainly focus on the differences and enhancements that version 4 has brought with it.

 

Version 4 of Mapopolis Navigator has now been released. This review looks at version 4.14. The biggest change is already in the name of the new version - ClearRoute.  Another obvious change is the new splash screen that allows finger friendly access to all important features.  This screen can also be reached via the "Quick Menu" option in the extended main menu.

 

ClearRoute

ClearRoute (previously called ClearPath) is a service that provides current and predicted traffic conditions in your area. This data is received from partnering companies in the US, so a separate registration is required and a service fee is to be expected (around 25 USD per month).

 

Mapopolis ClearRoute requires that your Pocket PC be connected to the internet, either via a wireless GSM, GPRS, CDMA, WiFi (802.11x) or Bluetooth connection or by placing it in the device's cradle connected to a computer with internet access. (This review was done with an iPAQ and a GSM/GPRS jacket connected to the GPRS service.)

 

Traffic Data updates

You can select to update manually or have the program do it for you (It will not dial the internet connection though if none is present).

 

Data can be fetched at preset intervals. It's pretty much up to you to decide how often you want to get the updates, and how much you are willing to pay for this.  

 

The amount of data obviously varies with traffic conditions. On the GPRS service it takes about 20 to 30 seconds for each download.

 

You should choose to "Revise Route after Update" (that's the whole idea of this new feature, after all).

 

There's sound that you can assign to this event, too - so you know without looking when Mapopolis did actually recalculate the route based on the traffic information.

 

Once the update is complete the new data will be either silently considered in the street ranking, or it will be shown in bright colors on the map if "Traffic Display Mode" is selected. All other map colors are then replaced by shades of grey.

 

ClearPath Update Update Settings Results of Traffic DataUpdate

 

 

Your route is recalculated based on the new travel data, and the application has a chance to guide you around roadblocks or slowdowns. The result is only as good as the service provided but so far I have been very pleased, and this feature has saved me already an hour or two of sitting in my sports car (I wish - it's just a SUV) and waiting fast in a traffic jam.

 

Another change from version 3 is more subtle. Normally, American navigation programs draw streets as single lines, making it difficult for the user to understand the street rank or importance.

 

Mapopolis 4 offers a compromise to European users - at levels of greater details streets are now drawn like "real" streets while the single line design is maintained at lesser detail levels - this makes sense because valuable screen estate is saved for other information. At the same time the ClearRoute speed colouring looks nicer on wider roads.
 

Map Display Features

The normal street data (provided by NavTech) contains approximate values for each street's rank* , effectively the throughput speed range. The ClearPath data will give you the exact current throughput of the mayor roads in your area, collected by thousands of speed sensors all around.  


 To see the street ranking for each of the streets, select "Show Speed Data" in the "Map Features" section.
The "GPS Trail" option will now show you a little blue dot for each position fix, very handy for situation when you're lost in an area without street coverage or when you want to backtrack your original route. Very neat - you can tap each of the blue dots and Navigator tells you where you have been when, where you were going how fast, and even shows you the elevation at that time and location!


* Unfortunately there is no place in Mapopolis where you could fine tune these speeds - certainly an important feature of TomTom Navigator and other programs.
 

Route Settings

Route planning got much more granular with version 4. Now you can also influence the time the program spends on route calculation, and you can avoid those costly toll roads that are very common in the USA - many times those are anyhow as congested as the normal roads...
You can even select to prefer or avoid freeways - a neat feature for those among us on the hunt for the optimum route.
The estimated arrival time is now calculated with amazing accuracy, and it will constantly be revisited during the ride, giving you the warm and cosy feeling that you are late for your date - again... 
 

GPS options

There are a number of new features here - even a track logging made it into the latest release.

 
"Center View Forward" adds some sanity to the display of your GPS location relative to the map. It used to be centered in version 3, but most of us are normally driving forward, so a centered cursor is basically wasting real estate "behind" the car. With "Center View Forward" the cursor moves to the bottom of the screen, so there's much more of the road ahead to see.

 
 "Lock To Road" doesn't need much explanation. I never switch it on because roads are very wide in the USA and the GPS position accuracy is most of the times good enough to map to the right street.

 

In addition you may want to know where you really are, especially when moving around in a newly developed area for which NavTech may not yet have provided the data. This is also where the GPS trail function comes in as a welcome new feature.
 

 

GPS Tracking

If you have enabled GPS logging in the "GPS Settings" page then Mapopolis Navigator is keeping a rolling log (of the size you specified above) containing the last few GPS events. This log is stored in a file called maplog.bin in the program directory.


Once you finished logging you can have Navigator show the log file (looks like it records location data for each second) and also play it back. (The GPS trail pictured here can be switched on independent of the GPS logging - it just shows how bad I was driving.)

 

Playback is at the same speed as the actual journey that was logged - good enough for a bonus feature but probably annoying when you have a very big log. 


If you're done with reviewing your recorded route you should stop the Log playback and restart the standard GPS.
 

 

 

 

Sounds Settings

The sound settings for Mapopolis have now received their own page under Tools...Sounds.

 

In addition to setting the volume and frequency for the navigation announcements, you can now assign sounds to certain events in the program. "Special Notice" seems to mean a successful download of ClearPath data, but I am not sure about this yet.


The voice volume is pretty loud. Instructions are spoken by a male voice and are fairly understandable (no changes here to version 3).

 

All Instructions are kept in a single file so you cannot change or replace them with your own as you can do in TomTom.


Instructions are triggered in a slightly unusual way - by time rather by distance. You will have to play around a bit before you find the balance between good announcements and annoying repetitions.

 

Fortunately the voice keeps quiet when the car is not moving...
 

Maps

The map purchase process has not changed from version 3.x . But since Mapopolis 4 is now using newer versions of the Navtech map data (sometimes referred to as "v5", sometimes as "NC") current subscribers to 3.x maps will have to decide if they want to spend another 60 to 100 USD for the new maps (depending on the age of their current subscription)


Another annoying item is the continuing population limitation (additional maps will not be loaded when the 20 Million population limit is exceeded), and the need to know the counties where your planned route is going through. If you are using Mapopolis only in a well defined area - say for example in a big city and its surrounding counties then this may not really bother you.
 

 

Mapopolis ClearRoute Navigator's Aim

The aim of Mapopolis ClearRoute Navigator is to:-

  • Avoid traffic jams and traffic congestion

  • Provide spoken and visual prompts before each turn

  • Generate routes anywhere in the United States or in Major Canadian Cities (we are still waiting for the European NC maps)

  • Generate address to address, turn by turn, coast to coast directions with major road maps

 

Conclusion:

There are many improvements in version 4 that make Mapopolis ClearRoute a serious competitor to other navigation programs. Newly added features like the better routing control and the GPS log as well as the ability to search for a location by latitude/Longitude (new in version 4.14) have shown that Mapopolis are listening to their user base.


Mapopolis ClearRoute is very sleek, quick to learn and easy to use. The ClearPath data updates are potentially better than TMC because they seem to be more current and more accurate. All the other small changes add to the convenience and improve the ergonomics of Mapopolis. Some more enhancements are in the works, and maybe the folks at Mapopolis will even come up with some clever solutions to the map issues for cross country trips - so you should definitely watch this space.
 

Mapopolis.com

Purchase ClearRoute

 

References

Manufacturers Website

http://www.mapopolis.com

Pocket GPS Reviewer

Lutz Bendlin

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website

n/a

Rating

 

Ability to plot route and follow

Voice Navigation Quality

Re-routing Quality

Map Detail

Overall Rating 80%

How did we achieve these ratings ?

Review Ratings

   

 

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