As the receiver is Bluetooth, your in car set up can be pleasantly wire free. However, when the batteries are running low you can plug in the Bluetooth receiver and the Zire into the the car power socket via the cradle. This usefully features an on/off switch on the front so you don’t have to unplug everything to turn off the power.
Performance wise though the bundle dissapointed and to be frank, I found that the whole experience fell a long way short of my expectations, which were set pretty high by the recently reviewed Tom Tom Go. The crux of the problem is the Mapsonic software, which isn’t particularly intuitive to use.
The default map screen features some mysterious icons at the bottom. The one on the far right takes you to the navigation screen, which presents you with a selection of more clearly labelled icons. This screen does look quite smart, but I was surprised by the paucity of the actual features on offer. There’s a button to switch between 3D and 2D view, and a Night Mode, which changes the display from full colour to more subdued hues so the screen isn’t overly bright at night. There’s also a button that enables you to customise where information such as time to destination and estimated time of arrival is laid out on screen. But that’s pretty much it. There’s no ‘Navigate Around feature, and no ‘Find Alternative’ route, which I found so useful on the Tom Tom Go.
While on a Tom Tom Go everything is designed to be done by touching the screen with a finger, this solution is limited by the fact that data entry on a PDA is meant to be done with a stylus, while holding the Zire in your hand. This means that you have to set your departure and destination point before you leave. A leaflet that comes with the package describes the Mapsonic software as a ‘Plug and Drive’ solution. I’d describe it more as a plug-in, fiddle around an awful lot and then drive solution.
Even worse is the awkwardness of the system for finding addresses. You have to select the part of the UK you want, and then gradually narrow it down from county, through region, to city and then to town. You then type in the road you want and the software starts to search through its database. Annoyingly, if you make the search again you have to enter the whole address again, as unlike the Tom Tom GO. it doesn’t remember previous entries. Knowing the post code is no use either, as Mapsonic doesn’t support post code searches at all. The first journey I tried to select the TrustedReviews offices as the departure point. However, according to Michelin, Cookham Road in Bracknell doesn’t exist all so instead I was forced to use the road next to it, which wouldn’t have been much use if I didn’t happen to know it.
One saving grace for Mapsonic is that it accepts addresses stored in your contacts database. However, it seems to me that if you already have an address in your database you are likely to know how to get there anyway. Even then, I was frustrated in trying to test this feature as the HotSync software, refused to synch with Outlook on my PC. As a workaround I was forced to laboriously enter in addresses directly on the Zire.