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Vito SmartMap Review

16th July 2003

 Review by Dave Burrows

  

Vito are well known in the Pocket PC arena for small applications that help you get around the day to day usage of your Pocket PC and enhancing the overall experience, but Vito have also created several good utilities for GPS use.  Vito have two specific products, SmartMap which is a moving map product, and Navigator which is more of a compass and GPS extras utility both of which we're reviewing in this review.

 

 

Introduction

Vito currently now have two versions of SmartMap.  One is a freeware version, and the full version costs $30.  The major difference between the two versions is you are restricted in the freeware version to:-

  • track mapping of limitation of 500 waypoints

  • no positioning without track mapping

  • number of pushpins is limited to 10

Other than that, the two versions are identical in features.  SmartMap as we said earlier is a moving map product, and comes with the following features available:-

  • fast rendering of Vector and Raster Maps

  • automatic detection of GPS Receivers

  • Support for Vector and Raster Maps

  • Exporting of recorded tracks to an ESRI Shape File

  • Pushpin Support

Vito Maps

Vito are currently offering a whole selection of maps on their website ranging from Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.  These map bundles are broken down into country sets and offer anything up to 15 maps per Country and are on sale for a standard flat rate fee of $4.  Taking a look at the UK map to the right, the UK is segmented up into 14 smaller map territories which are aimed more for intercity travel.  These maps come calibrated (more on this later), and include various layers including:-

  • Settlements

  • Airports

  • Roads

  • Railroads

  • Rivers

  • Inland Water inlets

  • International borders

  • Trees

The map scale is set to 1:1 million.

 

I think that one thing Vito have to be commended for is the availability of their maps.  One question we get asked quite a lot is for maps of far out foreign countries, many of which are in the middle east, but there are very few GPS systems with pre-calibrated maps that will cover these areas of the world, but Vito have managed this.  You may not have a 1:25000 scale map, but the maps are still very useful if you're travelling to these countries, especially if you're backpacking or offering relief work, and need to know where you are within the country.

 

 

Calibration

The advantage of purchasing the maps direct from Vito's website is that all the calibration has already been completed.  Normally when using moving map software, you can scan your own paper maps in, or download maps from the internet or even draw your own maps, but the one thing you then have to do is look at the map and either visit 3 or more points on the map (corners of the map), and calibrate the map by entering the co-ordinates of each position on the map, or you have to compare it with another mapping product to gain the GPS co-ordinates like Microsoft AutoRoute.  Calibrating maps sometimes isn't for the faint hearted.  You can calibrate the maps fine, but when you start to use them, you suddenly find out how far out you really were.  This is the same for all moving map software, and calibration really is a fine art.  If you're not experienced, or you're rounding up or down co-ordinates, or you mistakenly enter the wrong co-ordinates, then you could see a problem like the screenshot on the right hand side.  Although I had a 6 satellite fix and a 3D fix, the map I calibrated initially was around a couple of hundred feet out.  You'll see my  journey actually going across water, where in fact I was following the road to the right of the track.  The white edge designates the far left hand side of the map and I hadn't envisaged this being shown as I thought I had the calibration spot on.  Obviously not!  So this is why sometimes it's easier going for pre-calibrated maps.  Once you've had experience in calibration, then you'll get better at this, the beauty of moving map software is that you can scan your own maps in and calibrate, and use any map scale.  Stitching maps together on-screen once you've done this a few times gets quite easy.

 

The first map below was generated by screen dumping a well known mapping program, and cropping the screen and calibrating it.  The second and third maps are Vito's own maps, which are of the detail level you can expect.

 

 

 

Map Manager

Vito offer for free a third program which is PC based.  This is called Map Manager.  Map Manager allows you to make a digital map from various file types like ESRI, scanned maps or screenshots in JPG format and also the tracks recorded by SmartMap.  Once you've scan and prepared colour vector electronic maps, you can download these to the Pocket PC for use in SmartMap.  MapManager imports maps in the ESRI Shape file format, and converts them to VTM format, which is specifically developed by VITO Technology.

 

 

Calibrating maps are fairly straight forward.  All you need to do is open up Map Manager, select LAYER, ADD LAYERS and point to a JPG file that you've created as your scanned/downloaded map.  This then imports the map like in the screenshot below.  Once imported, you can tap on any area of the map and the SET POINT dialog box will appear.  This is for calibrating the map, and will ask for the full Latitude and Longitude for the point you clicked on.  You need to be as precise as possible here, because if you are out on any of your cabliration marks, your position on the map will be inaccurate.  Ideally you really need to look at 4 or more calibration points, a good start is to set the calibration points to the outside corners of the map.

 

 

Once you've calibrated a point you'll see it appear as a cross hair on the map above, and you'll also see the calibration point number set against each one.  Once you've created enough calibration points, click TOOLS, SNAP and then the co-ordinates will be snapped to the map.  All you need to do now is to save the new map in the Vito VTM format and copy this to your Pocket PC, and you're all set to use in SmartMap!

 

Digital Scanning of Maps and Downloading of Digital Maps Disclaimer
All maps do hold a copyright notice to prohibit the copying of the maps.  Please check the terms and conditions of the copyright and your rights before digitally scanning any paper maps or downloading of any digital maps from websites.  Most mapping companies will grant you a license to make at least one copy of the map for personal use only, however please check first and if requested to do so, request permission from the copyright holder first before scanning or downloading the digital maps.

 

Ordnance Survey Copyright Restrictions
Permission to scan an Ordnance Survey paper map (which is less than 50 years old) for retention on a retrieval system must be requested in writing stating the purpose of scanning Ordnance Survey maps, scale of mapping to be used and total area to be scanned in cm squared at original scale. Permission will not be given if the customer can be supplied with an equivalent digital mapping product from Ordnance Survey.  A one off data royalty charge will also be applied, calculated using the number of mapping units scanned, and the customer must hold a Digital Licence with Ordnance Survey.

 

Vito SmartMap Summary

For the low price of $30 you get a complete topographical mapping system available to you allowing you to feed in any scanned or downloaded digital maps to calibrate.   You may not get the extensibility as you would in a fuller product like OziExplorer or Fugawi, but one thing Vito have tried to do is to make it simple for anyone to be able to scan and calibrate maps, and not have all the extra tweaks that can take you off course when creating your maps.  If you don't need more than 500 waypoints or 10 pushpins then the free version is certainly worth a try!

 

 

Conclusion
Manufacturers Website http://www.vitotechnology.com
Pocket GPS Reviewer Dave Burrows
Pocket GPS Reviewer Website http://www.daveburrows.com
   
Rating
Map Detail
Useability
Points of Interest
Map Availability
   
Overall Rating 62.5%
How did we achieve these ratings ? Review Ratings
 

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