ALK Technologies CoPilot Live 7
- Attractive maps, clear audio, easy-to-use interface
- The 'Australian' voice option nearly melted our eardrums
ALK Technologies has managed to improve its flagship product in almost every area. If you already own CoPilot 6 you should definitely seek out this superior upgrade.
Price$ 229.95 (AUD)
GPS units have made the traveller's life infinitively more convenient; especially for that tragic breed of male who doggedly refuses to stop and ask for directions (i.e. - nearly all of us). For reasons which are far too complex to get into, our manhood is only threatened when another human is involved -- electronic assistance doesn't count. And yet, for some of us, purchasing a dedicated hand-holding gadget is a bit too much for our ego to bear; which is where CoPilot Live comes in.
As its name implies, CoPilot Live is a software package for Windows Mobile that turns your PDA or smartphone into a GPS navigation system. Whether you're on foot, behind the wheel of a car or frantically peddling behind handlebars, this voice-guided application will steer you smoothly in the right direction.
Having released six iterations of CoPilot Live already, ALK Technologies (AKA TravRoute) has had plenty of time to iron out the kinks; and it shows. This is a highly polished piece of software packed with a wealth of additional tweaks and enhancements.
Installing CoPilot Live onto your PDA couldn't be easier -- simply insert the included SD card, enter the licence code, and your co-pilot will be up and running within minutes. Our immediate impressions of the CoPilot interface were extremely positive. Upon first launching the program, you are presented with four self-explanatory options; Destination, Favourites, Settings and Drive. (The main menu is accessed via the map screen.) This naturally makes the software a lot more accessible to first-time users.
Choosing a destination follows the usual template of typing in a city, selecting the relevant state, and then entering the street name. You can then elect either a specific house number or the nearest cross road. The address entry screen uses an on-screen keyboard and you can switch the layout between standard, QWERTY and AZERTY (for Frenchies, apparently). Naturally, if you're stumped over the spelling of a particular street name, you can just key in the first few letters and then scroll through a list of matches until you find what you're looking for. While we cannot vouch for the touch-screen's functionality on every PDA available, its large and sensitive buttons worked perfectly on our HTC TyTN 2.
Rather than cluttering up the main screen, most data is accessed via a series of dropdown lists, with only a few information panels displayed at a time. As you would expect, this means you need to shift through more submenus than usual, but all in all, we think they got the balance just about right. While the overall interface might be a tad simplistic for some, it does make for a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.
ALK Technologies has completely revamped the appearance of its maps for this latest edition, and the results are a definite improvement. We particularly liked the ability to switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D modes when approaching junctions. An assortment of styles and themes are also available, including Day and Night modes which automatically reflect the time of day.
There are three main routing options available, comprising of Quickest, Shortest and Avoid Motorways, along with preference setups for toll roads, congestion zones and the like. Instructions are precise and reasonably loud, though the included 'Australian' voice is a horrific Cockney mangling that sounds more like an intoxicated Spice Girl. We therefore advise sticking to the UK or US options (19 additional languages are also included).
The software also comes bundled with CoPilot Central, which acts as a desktop 'hub' for managing downloads and updates. It automatically stores and transfers new content to your PDA whenever you plug the device into your PC, ensuring you are continually up to date with the latest data releases. This is quite handy, as it eliminates the need to trawl the Net for new downloads.
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