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Destinator 2 from PowerLOC Technologies
 - by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

Destinator is division of Paradigm Advanced Technologies, Inc., whose mission is to develop proprietary technology in location-based electronic commerce. (If you wonder how GPS works, read our GPS FAQ.)

Destinator Navigation System package contains: GPS antenna-receiver, Cigarette lighter adaptor/charger and cables, canvas travel pouch for GPS hardware and cable, two CD ROM with Destinator Software, NAVTECH maps with POI database, User manual, Tutorial, and warranty card. 1 year warranty.

Destinator 2. 0 software comes in 5 languages including English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. It now has a built-in NMEA protocol support, which allows you to use a wide variety of plug-and-play GPS receivers. It's available for the iPAQ 3600 through 5400 series.

Destinator GPS

 

Installation
To install the navigation software simply insert the CD and connect your Pocket PC to your desktop machine. The navigation software will be installed on your internal memory, but you can choose to install the maps either on the internal memory or on memory cards. You must install the navigation software before installing the maps.

Destinator GPS uses the latest NAVTECH mapping technology, providing detailed street maps for North America and Western Europe. (For more detailed city coverage and inter-town coverage, check out the Destinator web page.) One of the biggest new features added in version 2 is that you can display the maps in 3D graphics for navigation. The North America Map comes in two CDs and is divided into zones, and you can load the maps to either internal memery or a storage card.

There are two ways you can install the maps. If you know which map(s) you want to install, just move your cursor over the zones and check mark them. If you don’t know which zone your locations are in, you can use the search function to find the maps. You will have the choice of using an index, a list of all cities and states, or search by a city name or a ZIP code.

Once you've selected all the maps you wish to load, the map loader will give you the size of the maps and available space on your handheld or storage card. The data compression rate has also been increased to accommondate the increased data size. The largest map covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsion and is 59MB.

There is also a Tutorial that walks you through some very basic steps to use your GPS software and a detailed manual that covers everything on how to use Destinator GPS. The 12-channel GPS antenna/receiver, size 2.5”x3”, can be placed either on a flat surface of your dashboard with provided suction cup, or mounted on the roof of your car with strong magnet on the back for better signal strength. The GPS receiver is attached to an adaptor that’s connected to a cigarette lighter adapter as well as a COM connector to your Pocket PC. There is no mounting device for your Pocket PC included, though you can purchase the mounting bracket from PowerLOC for $9.95.

Using Destinator
Needless to say, you must install at least one map to use the Destinator, though you don’t need to install anything on your desktop, which is different from other GPS products. This means, you will plan your trips, navigate route and follow instructions entirely on your Pocket PC.

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Planning
If you have multiple maps installed, select one map. You will get a Destinator interface, which uses almost the entire Pocket PC screen to show the map with a line of short cuts on the bottom below the map. You will find this interface packed with information yet intuitive and not cluttering the map screen. These functions can be accessed through MENU button. The Destination function helps you find a destination and plan out the route. You can search a destination by City/Street, Zip code/Street, Street/City, Street/Zip code or Intersection as well as pulling contact info from your Outlook address book. This ensures you to find the destination even if you only know partial information. I tried to search the most enclosed street I can think of, the map has no trouble locating it. You can also search for a destination by using POI list or access your Favorites that have been stored before. If you just want to look for a destination on the map, you can bring up the cursor window where you can scroll and zoom the map easily with the tools provided on the screen. Once you've selected your destination, hit the Navigate button to get the route.

The new version 2 of Destinator navigation software has added some new interface changes that make it easier for both planning the trip and for driving on the road. In Settings, you can modify Routing settings, Pedestrian/Car settings and Look and Feel settings. In Routing, you can set Alerts for speeding and route recalculation; you can pick either the quickest route or the shortest route. You can switch between the Pedstrian mode for planning a trip and Car mode for getting the real time GPS data while driving. Look and Feel options give you choices to display the map in either Miles or Km, Day light or Night time, as well as map orientations and Auto Zoom feature.

The NAVTECH street level map system represents POI, landmarks and different road levels with topographic features and colors. The list of POI is impressive. It covers large number of categories and quite complete listings that include airports, bus stations, convention centers, city and government buildings, casinos, movie theaters, golf course, ATM machines, gas stations, hospitals, hotels, libraries and many more. You can also choose to only display the POI within radius of certain distance around any destination you choose.

Driving
There are both visual and voice guidance in Destinator GPS. The visual map is color-coded. Your present location is displayed on the screen as a triangle with a red border. The departure point is indicated with a red flag, and the destination with a blue flag. The calculated route is displayed in blue. Destinator uses the D-pad for scrolling the map and switching between the route guidance map, which traces your movements, and large-scale map that shows the entire route as well as a text-only guidance screen, which can also be called up from the MENU button under Destination. If you miss a turn, Destinator software will display the message "Recalculating Route", and automatically recalculate the route. THere is a 3D route dispaly mode which can be activated by hitting the yellow arrow on your shortcut menu bar. If you use the voice guidance system, the sound quality is clear with very good timing. It seems that the voice guidance system in Destinator has graduated from the synthesized voice to more friendlier and easier to hear human voice. The voice comes on about 200 yards before a turn for the first time and at the turn second time. You can also record your route with Destinator software.

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GPS Status
Destinator GPS is one of the most powerful GPS I’ve used so far, thanks to the large size receiver and the ability to stick it on the top of your car. When I put the GPS receiver out through the sun roof, I can get up to 12 GPS signals with most of them at very good strength level. The map updates very smoothly. You can access the graphical display by selecting the GPS Status under MENU, and monitor the navigational signal strength of each available satellite, along with the latitude, longitude, altitude, speed of your vehicle, and the number of available satellites. The software will update the signal bars to show the signal strength of each available satellite signal as it is picked up by the antenna/receiver. The Satellite Vehicle (SV) identification number is displayed beside each signal bar, and a maximum of 12 signals can be displayed on the screen. You can also restart data acquisition, and acquire a fresh set of GPS data.

Conclusion
With a powerful GPS receiver, NAVTECH's newest map technology covering both North America and Western Europe and a even more improved map compression, Destinator 2 is a great all around package. With some new features added in version 2, including built-in NMEA support, Outlook integration and 3D route map support, on top of the existing features such as complete mobile solution without installing maps on the desktop, good voice and text guidance system and easy-to-use application interface make this product a winner.

Destinator is priced at $329 and can be purchase online at www.destinator1.com or by calling 1-866-798-0905.