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Another issue I had is that the view switched away from the standard 3D view I prefer. Sometimes 3D isn’t the best view to have on the road ahead but it changed on the P550 at what seemed like odd times. Eventually I got used to the software and there are some good features, such as a buttons that can be set to route you quickly to Home or Work, and a POI (Points of Interest) database that directed me to a car dealer when asked. However, I would have preferred to be able to search POIs via name rather than having to guess where they might be located in the restrictive categories.
The software supports TMC, but no hardware is included so you’ll have to add it yourself. The nail in the coffin for the software for me though is the lack of seven digit postcode support. While this was a rarity a couple of years ago but it’s available on all TomTom devices now and with CoPilot, so I wouldn’t part with my cash for anything that doesn’t offer it. Trying to pin point a business that doesn’t have a street number without a postcode is difficult and frustrating.
An overarching problem though is that the idea of a non connected PDA seems rather old hat. The P550 is a respectable PDA and Pocket PC does make for a very capable email and contacts device. The large screen does make viewing GPS maps easier but you’re not actually getting more screen real estate than you do on the latest phones, which feature the same screen resolution. It seems to me that this type of device is a stop gap to when GPS devices will be embedded into conventional phones. At the moment you need something the size of a PDA simply for reasons of battery life, but even in this form factor I found the staying power too short.
Of course if you are after an all-in one-device Mio has the PDA/GPS A701 Phone, which is a great device but still on the bulky side. What puts me off the Mio though isn’t the size as much as the software and its lack of seven digit postcode support.
It’s great news then that you can pick up the P550 sans Mio Map, enabling you to buy the software of your choice and install it. For example TomTom 6 for Pocket PC can be picked up for around £70, while the PDA can be had for £247.93 at the time of writing from Advancetec. In this form the P550 would be worthwhile, but my dislike of the MioMap software means that in this form I can’t recommend it.
The Digiwalker P550 contains an embedded SiRF Star III GPS chip, in a relatively svelte housing, making it ideal for navigating in the car, or on foot. It’s also a good PDA with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, battery life could be better and the MioMap software is confusing and lacks seven digit postcode support. If you must have a GPS enabled PDA buy it with no software and get TomTom 6 separately.
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