The antenna connects to your laptop using a USB cable with a proprietary connector at the antenna end. Microsoft provided us with a couple of extra dongles for our test – an adapter for the GPS antenna which provides it with Bluetooth capability, and CompactFlash adapter so that it can be used with a Pocket PC that has a CompactFlash slot. Ordinary punters don’t get either of these in the box from Microsoft, though, so to use this antenna with a Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Smartphone you will need to invest in additional kit.
There are two installation options for Autoroute 2006. If your computer has plenty of free space, then you can set aside 1GB for all the software and mapping data. If you are strapped, then you can opt for a less space hungry installation requiring a ‘mere’ 400MB, but you’ll need to ensure the ‘run’ CD containing all the maps is on hand when you want to use Autoroute.
Setting up the GPS antenna up with my laptop was very easy. I simply plugged the cable in and chose to ‘Configure GPS Receiver’ from the Tools menu. It located me at its first attempt in under ten seconds, which is really very impressive.
Setting up routes is easy enough too. Tap in a road name and in the twinkling of an eye a pane offers you all its variants. Scroll through to find the one you want, and hit OK. The location is shown on a map that takes up the whole screen: PDA users would give anything for such an expanse of map! You can proceed to enter as many places as you like, and they appear in a pane running down the left edge of the screen. You can move them up and down in the list to create an itinerary, and if you have three or more places in any itinerary, can schedule time-specific stops.