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TravRoute CoPilot Live | Pocket PC 4 for Pocket PCs
  - posted July 11, 2003 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

TravRoute is a division of ALK Technologies, which was founded by Dr. Alain Kornhauser, Ph.D., in 1979. They have been working in the navigational system area for quite a while. (If you wonder how GPS works, read our GPS FAQ.)

We reviewed the CoPilot version 3.0 last year. If you have purchased any CoPilot GPS receiver along with the 3.0 software, you can upgrade to the CoPilot Live version. Visit TravRoute’s web site for more details.

TravRoute offers many GPS receivers with the CoPilot Live/Pocket PC 4 version. Here is a list of the receivers and the supported devices. If you already have a GPS receiver that is NMEA compatible, you can also run the CoPilot Live software.

GPS Jacket Receiver: currently supports iPAQ 3600, 3700, 3800, 3900 and 5400 series;

CF GPS Receiver: currently supports iPAQ 3600-5400 series with CF sleeve or Dual CF sleeve, Dell Axim X5, Toshiba e740, Casio E-200, Jornada 560 series with Type II CF adapter;

Y-Cable Receiver: currently supports T-Mobile/XDA Pocket PC Phone Edition, iPAQ 3600 and 3700 series, Jornada 540 and 560 series, Casio E-115, E-125 and E-200 (with adapter for the E-200).

For further system requirement and compatibility, check out TravRoute web site here. The review unit we’ve used here is the new CF GPS Edition.

CoPilot Live CF GPS
Above, CF card version


iPAQ sleeve

Y-Cable version

 

What’s in the box?

We received the CF GPS with CoPilot Live for this review. The package includes a CF GPS receiver plus a magnetic mouse GPS antenna with a 6’ cable, a vehicle power charger and a vent mounting kit, two installation and map data CDs and a Quick Start Guide. You will find the full manual on the CD.

Installation

CoPilot Live installation includes application installation and map data download. To install the application, make sure your Pocket PC is connected to your desktop, insert the CD marked as Install Disk. The install shield will take you through a short installation process. It’s recommended to install CoPilot Live on both Desktop and Pocket PC. You can choose to install on your Pocket PC internal memory, SD card or CF card. The program takes about 5MB of RAM. You can save some space if you choose the pre-recorded sound files instead of Text-to-Speech Male or Female Voice. I recommend the Text-to-Speech option.

The map data download will take longer as the program recommends that you install the map data with all POIs (Points of Interest) onto your desktop, which requires about 700MB. If you choose not to install the map data on your desktop, you will need to insert the Data Disk every time you need to download maps to your Pocket PC. Once the installation is done, you will see a CoPilot Live shortcut icon on your desktop. Launch the CoPilot application and you are ready to plan your route and install maps to your Pocket PC.

Plan your routes and download maps

Data Download Wizard will help you download the map data to your Pocket PC. You can choose Pocket PC device memory, storage card (SD or CF) and even a card reader as the download location. Once you’ve set the download location, you can pick which type of map data you wish to install. There are three types of data available: City Radius, Map Area and Trip.

If you choose the City Radius option, the program will ask you to enter City and State or Zip as well as how many miles of radius you wish to see. The desktop program will show you the map with a yellow circle indicating the radius. If this looks fine to you, you can hit the Download button in the Data Download Wizard to put this map to your handheld.

If you choose Map Area, you will need to enter a City and State, or a zip code or an address. You will see the map of the area of your specification. You can draw a box to select the area you wish download and hit the download button in the Data Download Wizard.

The Trip options are for you to map out trip(s) and download the map data to your Pocket PC. You can enter multiple addresses as starting, ending and intermediate stops. The map will highlight the areas of your origin, destination, stops and a corridor along your route(s). Once you are done, hit download button in the Data Download Wizard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In all three options mentioned, you can name the data areas you are downloading and you will see how many MB it will take before hitting the Download button. You can also create multiple maps, trips and areas before downloading them all to the handheld. Along with the city, area and trip maps, CoPilot also offers POIs download options. You can specify the category and type of POIs you are interested in downloading. These POIs include pretty much everything you need including gas stations, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and much more.

Below, Guidance screen:
Below, editing a trip on the Pocket PC:
screen shot
Below: the messaging screen
screen shot

 

One interesting feature in CoPilot Live is the custom place import function. You can import address from Outloook Contacts or Excel or text files (for people who are using other contacts database, you can export your contacts into Excel or text format). CoPilot Live will add these addresses to POI database under Custom category. You can now use them to plan your trip.

Driving with your CoPilot

After you plug in the GPS receiver and activate your software on the Pocket PC, you now can start driving with the maps you’ve download. The GPS receiver gets very good signal strength with about 25 seconds for cold start and less than 5 seconds warm start. There are a few key views you should get familiar with in order to use the CoPilot fluently while driving.

The GPS stats views are very clear and packed with info including GPS stats, satellite acquisition info and your current speed, lat/longitude position, heading and more. There are additional GPS features you should check out including access and playback GPS tracks and use your GPS menu to save current location as a favorite place.

If you have pre-loaded trip data, you can choose to view the Guidance screen, map screen or the Itinerary screen while driving. You can switch between these screens with the press of a button. The Guidance view has two versions, one for driver and the other one for passenger. The driver screen uses the entire Pocket PC screen to display each turn in the turn-by-turn instruction mode. The fonts and color make the instructions very easy to see. The passenger screen has smaller fonts but shows map. If you wish to follow the map, the Map view highlights your route, indicates your currently position and shows moving arrows that track your movement. If you only need to see the driving directions without any visual guidance, you can view the Itinerary screen, which displays turn-by-turn instructions of your entire trip in text. You can also use the CoPilot GPS for walking or hiking, just switch to the Walking guidance screen. The voice guidance comes in two flavors. If you installed the text-to-speech, you will have a nice Male or Female voice read your turning instructions and messages. If you need to save space and choose not to install the text-to-speech feature, you will get the pre-recorded sound files that don’t come on as often.

Plan your trips on the Pocket PC

If you need to plan your trip on the Pocket PC or make modifications to your pre-planned trip, you will find plenty of tools to do this as long as you have the map data downloaded. To add new addresses or stops to your current route or start a new route, you can enter addresses, link addresses from your Outlook directly or pick stops directly on the map if you don’t know the exact address. These features make the trip planning on the road extremely easy and reasonable fast. CoPilot even lets you set Waypoints if you need to calculate the ETA to different stops if you have multiple stops on your route.

CoPilot offers a Detour feature on the Pocket PC. When you are traveling on a planned route and you need to take a detour due to heavy traffic or unexpected road construction, you can tap on the Detour icon from your current Guidance screen. After the calculation, CoPilot’s voice will tell you how many miles the new route will add to your trip and will begin to give you new turn instructions. You can either follow the new turn instructions to take the detour, or cancel the Detour. Your CoPilot will go back to the original route.

There are various other options to define the route more tailored to your needs, such as avoid tolls, route the quickest or shortest, POI alerts, etc., which are quite useful but impossible to cover in detail here. Read the help file for more details.

CoPilot Live Communications

There is a single unique feature you can find only in CoPilot GPS software. The ability to communicate live opens up a whole new world for GPS applications on PDAs. The live communications allow someone in the office to track where you are on the road, send messages and trip itinerary updates. To use this feature, you must have CoPilot Live installed and running on your home or office PC and connected to the Internet. Your Pocket PC must have a wireless Internet connection. A wide area wireless solution offered by mobile carriers such as the Sprint PCS 2031 CF card or the Verizon AirCard would make the most sense since they offer near constant coverage along interstates.

You can launch the live communications window on your desktop by clicking on the Live button on the left hand side of your map. You will be connected to CoPilot Live network and now can track a list of your vehicles on the road. On your Pocket PC, you can use the Tools menu to set up the live communications with the office. In the options menu, you can specify what type of information you wish to send live to the office at what frequency.

Once you have established a live connection with the office, you can send/receive messages and get route updates. The interface for the messaging system in CoPilot is tailored to driver safety. The fonts and colors make the message easy to see and every message has multiple choice answers. As a driver, you don't need to type anything and only need to click on one of the choices and hit the Send button. The voice assistant becomes very useful here as the message can be read to you.

While the messaging feature is very nice to have, the live route updates will probably be an essential feature to those users whose destinations often change or require updates while on the road. This feature allows the person in the office to plan your next route and send to you in real time, so you don’t have to do route planning in the car. Once the new trip itinerary is sent to you, you can either accept or decline the change to your current trip plan. If you accept the change, CoPilot Live will automatically start giving guidance using the new route.

TravRoute maps and data quality

TravRoute offers maps for North America, Europe and Australia. If you purchased the North America package, you can purchase European maps and Australian maps separately.

How does TravRoute get their maps? ALK, TravRoute’s parent company, has been collecting map data for years and supplies their Worldwide Map Data to the Department of Defense and numerous transportation and logistics companies throughout the world. ALK’s North American map database is the backbone of the CoPilot, which includes street level detail for US, highway level detail for Canada and Mexico. The company claims Canadian street-level data will be incorporated into ALK’s map database in Q4, 2003

ALK uses a combination of data collection methods to enhance and update their map data. The primary source of data collection are their customers (such as transportation professionals) and secondary map data is collected from public and private sources including detailed satellite imagery, digital earth quads, and data from a variety of government sources including the US Postal Service, the US Census Bureau and the US Geological Survey. After the data is collected, the map database will go through a series of tests and verification.

What does ALK's North American database include? Over 7 million miles of North American roadway which include over 6 million street-level miles and over 738,000 highway miles, over 100 million U.S. street addresses, over 3 million POIs (Points of Interest), over 27,000 highway exit numbers and 42,500 five-digit 2003 US Zip Codes. It also includes the county name designation for every location in the US and the most recent North American road openings, name changes and construction updates.

The European maps and Australian maps for the CoPilot Live are licensed from other leading mapmakers. The European data is licensed from NavTech and includes over 420,000km of street-level data, 13,100km of highway-level data and over 1,400 cities and towns with over 69,000 POIs. The Australian data is licensed from Sensis and includes over 200,000km of street-level data, over 4,000km of highway-level data and over 2 million addresses with over 23,000 POIs.

Be a good CoPilot citizen

Because the primary data is collected from CoPilot’s users, you can help to make this data more accurate by sending in your .gps files and new POIs that are not on the map yet. CoPilot automatically tracks your trips and save them into .gps file. You will find an Email Tracks to Club CoPilot option in the menu on your desktop version to send your .gps files. Use the landmark reporting option to send in the new landmarks and POIs.

Conclusion

CoPilot Live is a significant update from the previous version, adding new map data, live connections and international packages. If you are using the CoPilot 3.0, there are lots of reasons to upgrade. With three types of receviers, CoPilot Live will work with most current Pocket PCs. The GPS receiver performs well with short starting times and strong signal strength. The improved navigation software and new POI data will likely meet your needs. The unique real time connection will help you get updates on your routes, destinations and instant messages, which no other GPS provides just yet.

For the latest patches, download the software from ALK web site:
http://www.alk.com/support/copilotlive_pocketpc4/updates_patches.asp

Price: $349 (software and GPS receiver) www.alk.com