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Navman SmartST Pro vs TomTom Navigator (Head to Head)

27th October 2002

 Article by Dave Burrows

  

TomTom Navigator has now been around for a few months, Navman Smart ST Pro has also been around for nearly a month now, so we thought it about time to bring a head to head comparison between the two products.

 

What will we be covering in this head to head comparison ?

  • Maps and Impurities

  • Re-Routing

  • Voice Navigation

  • Ease of Use

  • Manual Map matching

  • Usability without GPS Receiver

  • Points of Interest

  • Navigation Safety Screens

  • GPS Status Screens

  • Map Comparisons

Maps and Impurities

Maps are really the first most important item in any GPS software.  Even more so when you're looking at A-Z street maps and routing.  For Europe, there are two major mapping companies that supply digital maps to companies.  The first is Navtech and the second is TeleAtlas.  It's not surprising that both Navman and TomTom have decided to pick one of each of the top mapping companies maps.  TomTom chose TeleAtlas, and Navman chose Navtech.

 

You might think a map is just a map ?  It's far from it.  If you were looking at a map of the world, or a country small scale, then there's probably not going to be a lot of difference in the plotting, however if you are looking at road maps, not only do they have to be spot on, but you need to make sure that every motorway, road, lane, close and roundabout is shown, otherwise people will complain.  It's physically not possible to make sure the maps are 100% accurate.  We would all like it this way, but it's just not possible.  Each country is constantly updated with engineers going out mapping new roads, roundabouts and road layouts that have changed.  The best you can probably expect would be nearer the 80% mark of accuracy.  The first thing everyone does is complain about map inaccuracies and impurities.  Providing these are reported to the relevant mapping companies, these should hopefully be fixed in newer versions of the maps the GPS software companies get sent.

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom Navigator does fall down on the maps it uses from TeleAtlas.  There does seem to be a lot of map impurities with TomTom Navigator.  If you are concerned about this, check out our TomTom MIA Article and also read the comments at the bottom of that article for other Pocket GPS Readers comments and experiences

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman's map supplier Navtech seem to have better maps compared with TeleAtlas, however again there are problems with routing.  Very little inaccuracies have been found so far, although over time more will most probably be found as more people start using SmartST Pro.  Check out our Navman Map Errors thread.

 

Re-Routing

When you're looking to get from A to B, re-routing will help if you leave the chosen route.  Re-Routing is something that's fairly new to GPS Street mapping software on the Pocket PC.  When you leave the chosen route, the aim of the re-routing is to look at the destination location, and where you currently are, and depending on the various re-routing options selected it should re-route you to your destination.  TomTom's re-routing is very good, and very rarely does it have a problem.  TomTom have since updated Navigator to 1.40 and 1.41.  In Release 1.40, TomTom added the ability to change the way the re-routing mechanism works and now gives you the options of Fast, Normal and Strict re-routing calculations.  In most cases leaving it on the default Fast setting will give optimal routing.  Navman's re-routing isn't quite as spot on as TomTom's and does sometimes propose some strange routes.  Navman gives the ability of selecting Quickest Time and Shortest Distance.  Most of the time the Quickest Time option will give you the correct routes, sticking mainly to A roads and Motorways, but will produce some strange routes as discussed in the Navman GPS 3400 review and could be fine tuned slightly.

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom's re-routing really is very accurate

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman's re-routing needs a little fine tuning before it become as accurate as TomTom's.  For the most part, re-routing is spot on, but there are a few inaccuracies where you are routed down two side roads to join the same road, rather than continuing on the same road.

 

Voice Navigation

Routing by voice is another fairly new addition to the feature list of GPS Mapping Street mapping software which has been known to be found on some of the more expensive in-car navigation systems.  In most cases Voice directions will be recorded in maybe a dozen or two sound files, which can then be joined together to make a sentence.  The software knows which turn you need to take, and can then correlate the relevant voice words to make up the sentence.  This then allows most of the GPS software companies to create audio files from a human rather than a synthesised voice, and sounds more natural.  Pocket CoPilot was one of the first to introduce voice navigation, TomTom then adopted it, followed by Navman. 

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom's voice navigation is nearly spot on, the spoken sentence is very fluent and easily understood.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman's voice navigation again is split across words, but rather than having them as WAV files (standard Windows Audio), they are integrated into a single file.  The voice although very clear and human sounding, and better quality than TomTom's, does sound a little synthesised due to there being longer gaps at the beginning and end of each spoken word, which sometimes sounds as though the person is having trouble reading, and does make you strain to hear what is really being said.

 

Ease of Use

One of the main features of any GPS software on a Pocket PC has to be ease of use.  You don't want to find yourself driving along, having to make a slight alteration and find you can't get an option to set.  You need nice large buttons you can press with a finger or a thumb, rather than having to be precise with the stylus.

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom have achieved a lot over the past two months to enlarge it's buttons and make the software easier to navigate through.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman also have some very nice big buttons within the main menu which help use the software whilst driving.

 

Manual Map Matching / Correcting GPS Position

There comes a time in every application where the maps may not match up completely with the co-ordinates you are at.  This can happen when travelling fast along motorways and then hit several S bends.  You can then find yourself jumping onto a nearby local road, and then suddenly the Re-Route software thinks you're now on a different road, so it starts to re-plan your journey.  This can be infuriating, and when it does happen, you should be able to overwrite this using manual map matching technology which will allow you to say that you are actually where you should be on the map, and allow this to overlay and move the map and bring you back on track.  The only problem with Map Matching is sometimes you have to then counter this when you're on a section of road that re-displays okay.

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom have always had Manual Map Matching technology in most of their software, and include it as standard in TomTom Navigator

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman do not yet have manual Map Matching technology in SmartST Pro.

 

Usability without GPS Receiver

One thing you need to be able to do is to use the software as is and not always when you have a GPS signal.  Sometimes you need to plot a route, and sometimes you won't always have the full address, or the address you want to locate won't be in the database.  This is when you need to use the map manually, zoom into a city, then into the local area and find the rough location and then plot a route to here.

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom Navigator allows you to fully zoom in and out to anywhere on the map, when you zoom in you get a fully detailed map and you can plot a route to any location by tapping and holding on a location.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman also allows you to fully zoom in and out to anywhere on the map, with varying levels of detail.

 

Points of Interest

As mapping software gets better, so does Points of Interest (POI).  Anything from Car Parks to Hotels, from Restaurants to Bars.  An ideal POI database would include not only the name of the Point of Interest, but also the ful address and telephone number.

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom Navigator although the POI database is fairly good, it falls down in main city centres.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman's POI database comparing particular towns and city centres to TomTom Navigator is better, but we really aren't seeing the amount of POI data on any package at the moment

 

Navigation Safety Screens

A comparison review wouldn't be the same if we didn't include some screenshots to compare the two products

 

Navman SmartST Pro TomTom Navigator

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom Navigator gives you all the features you need on the Navigator screen.  Not only direction, distance, current and next road, but also a compass, ETA, speed and satellite status signal.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman although is let down a little by the content on the Navigation screen, it does still include the essentials like direction, distance, current and next road, speed, eta but it is missing two major options which is compass and status signal.  However the Navigation screen does look very snazzy, so it makes up for these loss of features!

 

GPS Status Screens

One thing you may not see much of in your journey, but you do when you commence your journey is the GPS Status screens.  These for most are the essentials, you really do need to make sure you have a full 3D acquisition before commencing your journey, otherwise the acquisition time will be severely extended.

 

Navman SmartST Pro TomTom Navigator

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom are always increasing the use of the status screens, and as in previous CityMaps and RoutePlanner, the status screen looks similar but has been built upon over time.  It includes all of the information you need like longitude and latitude, speed, compass direction, GPS satellite signal strength, satellite lock and an approximation where each satellite is in the sky.  You will also see full UTC time as retrieved from the satellites atomic clock and a 2D/3D lock designation.  TomTom's latest modification allows you to tap anywhere on the screen to exit, where as Navman's still requires you to try and press the X button.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman have tried to keep their status screen as simple as can be, but giving you the information you need.  Again they include longitude and latitude, speed, compass direction, an overall number of satellite locks or partial or 2D locks in the sem-circle and also a green large circle that denotes a full healthy 3D lock.  You will also see full UTC time as retrieved from the satellites atomic clock and a 2D/3D lock designation.

 

Map Comparisons

A comparison review wouldn't be the same if we didn't include some screenshots to compare the two products maps side by side. 

 

Navman SmartST Pro TomTom Navigator

 

TomTom Navigator

TomTom Navigator maps supplied by TeleAtlas are good, however there are a lot of inaccuracies or impurities where roads will not be listed correctly, or are not in the database, or where sea is actually listed as land.  We must say that in the areas we have tested, TomTom maps are genuinely quite good, however if you feel TomTom Maps may be a problem for you, see our TomTom MIA Article and comments by other Pocket GPS Readers at the bottom of that article.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

Navman SmartST Pro has used NavTech maps, these maps although they might not look quite as attractive in colour as the TomTom TeleAtlas maps, you get more detail of road names using SmartST Pro at the same zoom level compared to TomTom Navigator.  This is achieved by not writing the road names within the two lines that make up the road, but rather putting a bullet point on each road, and then hanging a label from this bullet point.  With TomTom Navigator roads, need to be quite large to be able to put readable text within their lines, and this is where Navman SmartST Pro and NavTech maps wins.  Check out our Navman Map Errors thread.

 

Overall Comparison

TomTom Navigator has been out on the market for twice as long as Navman's SmartST Pro.  Due to this and Pocket GPS users wanting to have a crack at re-routing, complete single maps rather than segmented maps, a lot of users have already gone the TomTom Navigator route, and because of this, there is a much larger following, which in turn means there's more of a chance to find problems with either the software or the maps.  TomTom have been producing updates to both TomTom Navigator and it's GPS Support Driver, nearly every 2 to 3 weeks, which has been a welcomed edition, and we hope this is something that Navman will be doing to fine tune it's system.  We must state though that there have been lots of map problems found within TomTom, and no matter how many of our contacts at TomTom we contact, they never return an answer to our question which is a simple one of "Are you aware of these map problems ?  And are you currently working on these".  Most of the Pocket GPS readers would just like to know if something is being done with the maps, to know that they will not be left high and dry.

 

Navman have already said that they will be certainly looking to create map updates, but as most of these are going to be of new roads, there may be an upgrade fee for each map update, and Navman are hoping this will be either once or twice a year for existing users of SmartST Pro.

 

As you'll see from the grading percentages below, there really is not a lot of difference between the two products.  Each product has it's Pro's and Con's.

 

TomTom Navigator

79%

TomTom Navigator maps supplied by TeleAtlas are good, however there are a lot of inaccuracies or impurities where roads will not be listed correctly, or are not in the database, or where sea is actually listed as land.  We must say that in the areas we have tested, TomTom maps are genuinely quite good, however if you feel TomTom Maps may be a problem for you, see our TomTom MIA Article and comments by other Pocket GPS Readers at the bottom of that article.

 

Navman SmartST Pro

74%

Navman SmartST Pro has used NavTech maps, these maps although they might  not look quite as attractive in colour as the TomTom TeleAtlas maps, you get more detail of road names using SmartST Pro at the same zoom level compared to TomTom Navigator.  This is achieved by not writing the road names within the two lines that make up the road, but rather putting a bullet point on each road, and then hanging a label from this bullet point.  With TomTom Navigator roads, need to be quite large to be able to put readable text within their lines, and this is where Navman SmartST Pro and NavTech maps wins.

 

 

Modifications to this Article 
29th October 2002 Modified the Map Matching section to read Manual Map Matching

 

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