Plotting a trip is quite straightforward. You press New Trip, and you can then enter and address or search via the all important postcode. You can also choose from a Recent list, which is useful as it removes the hassle of re-entering addresses again if it’s in the list.
Another way to enter a destination is via the Contacts tab, which pulls the addresses out of vCards. Active Sync is supplied with the Acer but for the life of me I could not work out why. I hoped to transfer all my contacts from Outlook but no matter what I did, Active Sync did nothing even though it recognised the Acer and synched. To get contact on there I had to copy them on to the SD Card as vcf files and manually import them – very clunky. Much to my amazement the Acer successfully pulled out the address and let me plot a route to it – the first time that I’ve seen a pocket PC based GPS device do this from the off.
If you enter an address manually you get a non-Qwery keyboard with letters that fill the large screen. For some reason though to enter numbers you have to press the number screen and wait for that to come up than to enter the numbers. This is how regular Pocket PCs work but it makes no sense on a PDA when you are entering a postcode and have to switch between numbers and letters. The other issue was that the system is sluggish when you’re entering addresses, which makes the process tedious and almost impossible to do while the car is on the move – you’d spend too much time looking at the screen and you’ll most likely crash. Not good.
This delay is because of the smart address system, which predictively guesses what you’ll enter next. When you enter a postcode it enables only the letters that could possibly follow it. It’s a neat trick but you pay for it with a sluggish response.
Once you’ve made each selection you need to press the next button, which is annoying. It’s elongated but surrounded by other buttons so it’s easy to miss it and muck things up, making the process take even longer. It all clearly betrays that the interface is optimised for use with a stylus like a PDA – and not for fat fingers in a car.
It’s also clear when you go into any screen with many options. To get to all of them you have to move the scroll bar on the right hand side down. Again, this makes sense on a PDA but not on this device. On a TomTom you move left and right to access further options via large easy buttons – not up and down via awkward to hit arrow keys. Despite this, as long as you’re not attempting to use it on the move though the Acer is still quite reasonable to navigate once you’ve got to grips with it.