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So is there anything good to say about AutoRoute 2007? I'll certainly give it a go. The first thing to say in its favour is that is very comprehensive. Out of the box you get full street-level coverage for most of western and eastern Europe. In this edition, Microsoft has added 10 principalities to the list of countries covered including Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania. For the price that's a pretty good selection. What this means is that if you bought the version without the GPS receiver (around £40), you'd be getting a bit of a bargain. You'd certainly be hard pushed to find a paper version of this map that cheap.
The points-of-interest database is also more impressive than you'll find in most cheap sat-nav systems. And when you've got a connection to the Internet, the search integrates neatly with Windows Live, plotting local Internet search results on your map in addition to the stuff from the internal database.
On top of this, planning routes, plotting waypoints, and generally browsing around the maps is very quick and easy to do, much more so than on a website, or small-screened sat-nav box. The maps respond quickly and smoothly plus you can add notes and extra information to your maps if you need to. You don't have to have an Internet connection to look something up either. You can annotate maps with drawings and icons and there's a handy fuel use calculator too. The latter will help you see how much a given journey is likely to cost.
Finally, there is one positive with using AutoRoute to provide driving instructions, and that's the huge amount of detailed map you get on a 14 or 15in screen. This means if you do get stuck in traffic, you can see enough of the surrounding area to plot your way around it. It also makes it easier to spot points-of-interest as they scroll by.
The trouble with AutoRoute is that it falls between too many stools. Though it is good at its core activity – route planning – there's very little incentive for most consumers to invest the money with so many free mapping services around. It's also pretty useless as a sat-nav system, lacking too many standard features as well being totally impractical to use.
If you own a UMPC, or small tablet PC and you carry one around with you all the time, AutoRoute may be worth the purchase simply because the maps and points-of-interest database are so comprehensive. But other than this I can think of no real reason to spend your hard-earned cash on AutoRoute 2007. At £70 for the version with the GPS receiver it's not even that much of a bargain. I'd recommend you save up a few more pennies and buy a proper sat-nav system instead.
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