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 AutoRoute 2002 / Pocket Streets for the Pocket PC

18th August 2002

Reviewed by Kevin Tea (Reproduced with Kind Permission of PDA Pro)

 

The "Grand Plan" was to assess TomTom's CityMaps and RoutePlanner in a head to head analysis with the latest version of AutoRoute and PocketStreets. However, it would be unfair to both stables to do so. TomTom's products are created for the PDA environment from the ground floor upwards, whereas AutoRoute is primarily a desktop product with PocketStreets bolted on as an extra. Because of this the integration between the desktop and PDA modules does cause problems.

 

On installation you have the choice of a full or a "lite" install. The latter takes up between 245 and 255mb and you then read the mapping data from a second CD ROM on your PC. The full install will load everything and chew up between 755 and 865mb. Not a lot of room on the standard PDA for those monsters!

 

As a desktop module AutoRoute2002 is nothing but comprehensive. It contains street level details of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland.

 

It is also important to point out that the maps on AutoRoute2002 really are bang up to date. A very small residential development in a nearby village that isn't even completed yet is included. Very impressive

 

Although there is no similar in-depth information for the rest of Europe it is still covered at route level and you can plot a route from London to Archangel in the northern Russian wilderness. Just for the record it covers 2316.6 miles and takes six hours, two hours and 21 minutes, taking in the delights of Berlin, Riga and St Petersburg en route.

 

If you wanted to stop over in Berlin you zoom into the city centre and then click on Tools/Find Nearby Places and then appreciate the wealth of data that is available. 

 

For example, listed for Berlin there are five hotels, 12 listed tourist attractions and 79 restaurants. And if none of those catches your eye, you can always insert your own favourite places using the familiar pushpin option.

 

At this level, exporting data to your PDA is painless. Click on File/Export Map For PocketStreets and everything is transferred to your PDA's My Folders directory. The exported files are quite weighty - a map of Inner London I created climbed to 3.5mb, but all the "nearby places" information is copied over so you have a plethora of information at your finger tips.

 

At another level, however, the package is disappointing. For example, when you create a long distance route it is impossible to automatically export the map to the PDA. You get a message saying that the map file size is too large. So, if you were stopping off on the way, you would need to take snapshots of each destination and download the separate maps. Maybe this is no big deal, but if you take into consideration unforeseen circumstances like a breakdown or traffic diversion, then you could be at a serious disadvantage.

 

Also, there is no seamless synchronisation of the written route details. You have to copy and paste the details into a third party program. This is not a major problem if you use Outlook's notes facility or you have HPC Notes, ListPro or a similar program that automatically syncs with the PDA. But if you have to paste into a third party text editor or Word and then import the data, the whole procedure is long winded and disjointed

 

Seamless synchronisation of all content is something that Microsoft must address.

 

Once all the data is on your PDA there are a number of options available to you. Navigation is best if you zoom in from the maximum overview using the plus magnifying icon and then move over the area using the four directional arrows at the right hand side.

 

If you want to find a specific address you click on tools and click on the third line down. The same menu allows you to find a place and by typing in "pub" for example, a list of entries with the key word in it will come up and you can navigate from there.

 

The most comprehensive information is kept in the Points Of Interest section, again reached via the Tools menu. Here you have a long list that incorporates ATMs and Banks through to Tourists Attractions. If you know the area you are in, find the nearest road and then from the Places Of Interest menu choose what service you require and all of those items will appear allowing you to track down the nearest. Quality is assured as, for example, all the pub data is taken from the Good Pub Guide, so you can make your choice in confidence.

 

The route menu is detailed and
straightforward once you get it
onto the PDA

 

From a jet-eye view above you can
zoom down to the street level below

 

 

The Points Of Interest menu is one
of PocketStreet's strongest points

 

Choosing the pubs and restaurants
option and the easy to read symbols
tell you where to eat and drink

 

It really is at this level that the AutoRoute and PocketStreets package comes into its own. I certainly wish I had this technology when I first started working in Europe six years ago. With the comprehensive Points Of Interest overlay you have the perfect guide to a wide range of facilities and if I was going to a city for the very first time, this would be my choice of software.

 

Highs and Low’s

Where the package does fall down is on the synchronisation of the written instructions and its failure to be able to download the map of a long distance journey.

Conclusion

Manufacturers Website

http://www.microsoft.com

Pocket GPS Reviewer

Kevin Tea

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website

PDA Pro

Other Reviews to look at

Ultimate GPS Map Comparison

 Review

 

Rating

 

Map Detail

Usability

Points of Interest

Map Detail

Overall Rating 70%

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