Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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Fun with GPS navigation

I'm currently playing with Navicore's plug-and-play GPS in-car navigation solution for Symbian devices, and I have to say, I'm quite impressed.

Getting going was easy enough: just plug the MMC card into a Symbian phone (I'm using a Nokia 6630 as my test Symbian device these days - it's a standard Series 60 device, with a decent screen). Connecting to the bundled Bluetooth GPS was even easier - just run the application, and then from the menu choose to activate the GPS. It'll handle discovery and pairing for you, all you need to do is click and select the GPS when the discovery process has finished.

Bravely marypcb and I decided to try it out while driving from Putney to Three Bridges for gaming last night.

Setting up a route is quick enough, choosing start and endpoints, and then generating the route. Place look-up uses post codes, but only to a single digit in the final block (so W15 2 rather than the full W15 2JK).

While the route it generated was direct, it wasn't perhaps the quickest, and it was amusing to be prompted, in a rather genteel voice, to turn Croydon-wards at every junction as we drove up the A3 (and then to see the route recalculate on the fly each time). The final approach to our destination was easy, as we were navigated through a housing estate, to be welcomed by "You Are At Your Destination" as we pulled up outside Steve's house.

The pseudo 3D view worked well on the Nokia's screen, and its speakers coped well with the spoken directions, so I didn't have to look at the phone while driving.

Coming back, we decided to follow the exact route. One thing we did notice was that the maps weren't quite up to date, with some recent new junctions referred to roundabouts. There was also a little confusion as we came up the A23, when the GPS lost its satellite fixes slap bang in the middle of the new bypass works. The screen kept informing marypcb that we should try driving on the roads on the map (while the arrow that indicated our position was drifting over the railway lines to our left). The software assumes that there's a minimum size for roundabouts - which is a little tricky when crossing a mini-roundabout...

One minor quibble - the plug and play nature of the solution means that you're going to need to buy a new card (and a new copy of the software) for each country you visit. Navicore has said it will be bringing out a CD-ROM of maps at the end of the summer, which will mean that you will be able to install additional data files.

All in all though, a reasonable effort - and one that's going to come in at a very reasonable price point.
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