As my colleagues know, driving in London has never been one of my favourite experiences. So when I was in town the other day I was very grateful I could just turn on my TomTom GO and let it guide me home, stress free. In fact, the TomTom GO is undoubtedly one of my favourite gadgets of recent times and any other GPS solution has to measure up to that for it to impress me. So when the Destinator PN software was offered to me for review it certainly had its work cut out.
Things didn’t start well however as at first I couldn’t get the Destinator application to open on the PocketPC even though it seemed to have installed without problems. I then used the Destinator console application to install the UK map straight to the memory card which I’d placed in a card reader. It turned out that the software only recognises the maps if they are installed with the memory card already in the PDA rather than a card reader. This is quite a slow process however, taking around 12 minutes to copy the whole of the UK and Ireland, so don’t leave it till just before you leave to get the maps your maps ready.
I was then disappointed to discover that I wouldn’t be able to test two of the key new features in Destinator PN. The first is TMC (Traffic Message Channel) data support. This is a method of broadcasting traffic data of radio, much the same way that RDS radios can automatically switch to traffic news when radio stations broadcast a compatible signal. This data can then, in theory be transferred to GPS software and then used to automatically reroute around traffic jams. However, this requires a compatible GPS receiver and though I spotted one manufactured by GNS at CeBIT last march practically all receivers currently in the UK are not TMC compatible.
The next feature I was looking forward to testing was the Text-to-Speech (TTS) function. This means that the software will read out the instructions to you rather than using pre-recorded voices. The advantage is that it can read out road names, which in theory makes navigation clearer by giving more voice detail so you don’t have to look at the screen. However, the specs recommend using a Pocket PC with 128MB of memory and the unit I was using to test with only had 64MB of RAM. However, I installed the TTS data anyway and fortunately it did actually work.
The CD I was sent comes with maps for the whole of Western Europe which will cost you £100. This is reasonable as TomTom is charging £40 more for its equivalent maps. If you don’t already have a compatible PDA, Destinator PN is available in a number of bundles with either the Mio 168 or with a number of iPaqs.