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PocketMap Navigator from Space Machine
  - posted July 12, 2003 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

Coming from many years of experience in making city guides, Space Machine spent the last few years developing personal navigation software for the Pocket PC called PocketMap Navigator. Their unique approach to providing Pocket PC GPS solutions is to highly personalize the packages, from the type of receiver to the level of details in the maps. Currently Space Machine offers three GPS packages, two in CF format and one that’s a Y-cable with mouse GPS.

Space Machine CF GPS
Above, Standard CF card version

 

PocketMap Navigator Packages and What’s in the Box

Advanced CF GPS Kit- Includes navigation software & US maps, User's Manual, PMG-270 CF GPS receiver, external GPS booster Antenna, 12V car charger/adapter and a universal vehicle vent mount kit. This CF GPS receiver is WAAS-ready 12 Channel receiver that supports Type I and Type II CF slots. (If you don’t know what WAAS is, read our GPS FAQ.) When used with PocketMap Navigator software, the PMG-270 is an ideal GPS navigation device equally suited for door-to-door city driving as well as for long-distance cross-country trips. It supports HP iPAQ 3600-5400 series, iPAQ 2215, Dell Axim X5, Toshiba e750/e740, Casio E-200 and more. $299

Standard CF GPS Kit- Includes navigation software & US maps, User's Manual, PMG-220 CF GPS receiver, external GPS booster Antenna, 12V car charger/adapter and a universal vehicle vent mount kit. This GPS receiver is a low-profile ultra-sensitive 12-channel receiver that also support Type I and Type II CF slot. It does not however have the WAAS capability. Because the design is tuned for high sensitivity, this GPS solution is the best for city and urban environments. It supports the HP iPAQ 3600-3900 series, iPAQ 2215, Dell Axim X5, Toshiba e750/e740, Casio E-200 and more. $299


Y-Cable Auto GPS Kit- Includes navigation software and US maps, User’s Manual, PMP-2000 mouse type GPS receiver, Y-cable car charger/adapter for Pocket PC and a universal vehicle vent mount kit. This GPS receiver is WAAS-ready 12 Channel receiver that’s designed for using in the vehicle. It supports all iPAQ models, most of Toshiba models, Dell, T-Mobile PPC Phone Edition, ViewSonic V35, Jornada 560 series and more. $199

For further system requirement and compatibility, check out Space Machine’s web site. The review unit we’ve used here is the Standard CF GPS Kit.

Installation

PocketMap Navigator comes with 2 CDs including the navigation software and US 2003 Atlas maps. Follow the installation instructions to install the PocketMap Data Manager on both desktop machine and Pocket PC, and PocketMap Navigator on the Pocket PC.

Use the PocketMap Data Manager on the desktop to install maps and Points of Interest (POIs) to your Pocket PC. There are three types of date you can download: Map data, Highway data and trip Routes data. In the Map data download utility, you can choose to download the maps by searching for the city, county or state, although the smallest map is the county map. You can download multiple county or state maps and see a list of cities in county download or a list of counties in state download. The Highway data is optimized for calculating long-distance routes on your Pocket PC. It breaks down the US highway system into two files: West and East. You could however manually delete the counties you won’t need after downloaded the maps. The Routes data download allows you to create routes and download the maps of the areas around each Route Points. In the Routes window, you need to give the origin and destination addresses, and can add Waypoints along the routes. Once all the addresses are entered, you can calculate the route, get driving directions and download the maps.

In all three map data download modes; you will get info on map file size, POI file size, etc. If you don’t want to pull out the data CD each time you plan a trip or download a map, you can install the maps onto your desktop or save routes you’ve planned on your desktop for reuse later.

Driving with PocketMap Navigator

Once you’ve downloaded map data and connected your GPS receiver, you can click on the PocketMap Navigator on your Pocket PC to launch the GPS software. The PocketMap Navigator software has a very intuitive interface that gives you quick access to Configure GPS, Explore, Driving Directions and Navigate functions. You can set up map display preferences including Night Mode, Pan Arrows, Auto Reroute and more in the Settings on this main screen. You can also set up POI categories and storage options in the Settings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GPS configuration allows you to select settings such as Baud Rate, Data Bits, Parity and Stop Bits. Oddly enough, you have to go through the configuration window to choose the GPS device or a COM port since the software doesn’t pick its own receiver by default. Luckily you will find a drop-down list with GPS model and COM port info for you to select. The PocketMap Navigator Standard CF GPS receiver gets very good signal strength in both areas I’ve tested (SF Bay Area and Boston). The initial fix takes about 25 seconds and warm start a few seconds. I typically can track 5-6 satellites with this receiver.

If you haven’t created a route or downloaded one from your desktop, you can do it right on your Pocket PC, as long as you have the maps on your handheld. Click on the Explore button on the main screen, you can explore the vicinity of your current location, view the maps, POIs and plan your route. To find a location, you can search by address, intersection or city name as well as nearby POIs or your recent favorites. There is no integration with your Outlook Contacts, which means you need to retype the address even if you have already had it in your Contact database. There are panning and zooming tools to help you pinpoint a location. Once you’ve entered origin, destination and waypoints, hit the red Calculate Route button to get the route map and driving directions.

screen shsot
screen shot

 

Driving Directions can be accessed from the main screen and is a text version of the turn-by-turn instructions with icons indicating various maneuvers. You also get additional trip information such as how many turns, miles and ETA. To see the map, you need to go to the Navigate screen. If you have a route planned, the Navigation will mark your route on the map and track your movements. You will hear the voice guidance giving you turn-by-turn driving instructions. If you missed your turn, the PocketMap Navigator will make a sound alert and re-route automatically and give you new driving directions. The re-route process is fairly quick in our test. The Navigate screen also offers additional visual aids such as shortcut buttons for reverse the route, next maneuver, etc, and icons such as Countdown for number of voice guidance messages left before the next turn.

The timing of the voice guidance seems right on target, but the volume is very low. Unlike the CoPilot Live that has a voice amplifier, PocketMap Navigator offers no amplification for the voice guidance and somehow gives you lower volume than your device sound volume level. The low voice volume only affects the text-to-speech feature and doesn’t affect any sound alerts.

About PocketMap Atlas 2003 Data

PocketMap Navigator GPS solution uses the Atlas 2003 map data. It covers 50 US states, 3,100 counties and 30,000 US cities. The map database has 7 million miles of roads and 2 million Points of Interest.

In addition to the amount of data Atlas provides, it offers flexibility in using the map data. There are eight zoom control levels that can aid you to pinpoint a location on your map. The map panning features make the trip planning and driving navigation easy. The map updates in a moving vehicle are very smooth. PocketMap offers new data updates on their web site so that you can keep current with your maps.

Conclusion

By offering two different versions of GPS units, Space Machine is able to suit both urban and rural/highway travelers. The CF GPS receiver gets strong signals from satellites and takes a short time to get a fix. The smooth map update and quick re-route features will likely please the road warriors. I wish that PocketMap Navigator had a better text-to-speech system which would make it easier to hear the instructions with noise on the road. While the full featured POIs and various map data search functions give you plenty of ways to create your routes, there is little integration with Pocket PC apps such as Contacts.

Price: $199-299
www.pocketmap.com