This is where you access the extra functions which are MP3 playback, Photo playback, Ccontacts and system options such as date and time, the backlight settings and the language, of which there are ten to choose from.
I’ve never quite understood the point of MP3 on a GPS device. It’s certainly not to listen to music over the built-in speaker, unless you’re particularly keen to recreate the sound of listening to 1960’s style AM pirate radio. However, there is a headphone socket on the left hand side of the unit, so you can hook it up to headphones or external speakers. You can also display pictures, though I think it would be quite odd to pass round a GPS device at dinner parties to show off your kids/pets/stamp collection.
Storage is via SD card, with a 256MB one supplied containing the maps of the UK and Ireland with the mapping application taking up 171MB of it.
There’s also a Contacts section which is filled by synchronising the device with Outlook. To do this you hook up the d150 via the suppied USB cable and install ActiveSync 3.8. The problem, as ever with devices that read Outlook Contacts, is that it doesn’t work. The addresses can never actually be picked up by the mapping software, without lots of faffing about, which removes any notion of convenience. The Acer doesn’t even limit the list to those with actual addresses in.
This feature though is all the clue you need to realise that the d150 is essentially an updated Acer n35, shoehorned into a portable sat-nav chassis. This is why the Destinator DS software has to ‘load’ – not something you have to put up with on a TomTom.
One issue I discovered was that the backlight dimmed when I unplugged, which isn’t much use in the car unless you intend to keep it plugged into the power socket the whole time while driving. To keep the backlight on you have to delve in the settings and tell it not to turn off when unplugged – and then reload Destinator DS. It is little things like this that really make it seem less friendly to use than a TomTom.
The Destinator DS software itself is based on NavTeq mapping data and if anything is better than the TeleAtlas maps using by TomTom. It has full post-code support so you can easily pin-point addresses in the UK. It also has a pedestrian mode, should you wish to walk around with the bulky device.
My main problem with it though is the interface, which to honest reflects the low-rent design of the outer chassis. It’s simply not as slick looking nor as easy-to-use as the equivalent TomTom and takes some getting used to. For example when you enter the post code, you have to switch between letter input and number input, which is very clumsy and slow. Why not just have letter and the numbers on the same screen? This flaw clearly betrays the software origins as a stylus based Pocket PC.