iNav iGuidance v4.0

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INTRODUCTION

    iNav iGuidance (and its
derivatives) has been my favorite GPS Navigation
program since I bought my first GPS receiver. Back
then, iGuidance was the fastest, most accurate and
easiest to use program for navigation. It used the
same Pocket PC interface with easy-to-read menus. I
could still access the start menu, minimize buttons,
clock, volume control, and signal strength in the
title bar. The voice prompts were clear, easy to
understand, and it told me which side of the street
my destination was on. It was by far the least
annoying GPS navigation program around. In this review, we’ll test new version 4.0 to see if continues to be the champ. Read on for more!

WHAT’S HOT

    The new features that iGuidance 4 adds are
text to speech support and updated map/POI data.
That’s about it.

SETUP

    Using the DVD, installation seems pretty
straight forward. I selected to only install the Pocket PC software and
the Map Loader on the desktop since I knew I would not need a GPS
Navigation program on my stationary Windows PC. Well, it turns out that
the Map Loader software does not work at all if you do not install the
Laptop or UMPC (Windows) version of the navigation software.  There
is no documentation that warns you of this upon installation. 

   
After you get a Laptop or UMPC version of the
navigation software installed, you have to go
through an Activation process.

To be fair, the
activation is pretty painless.

    After you activate the Laptop/UMPC version of the
software, the map loader should work. Once you do
get the Map loading software running, you might have
problems getting it to recognize the Pocket PC
device’s memory card. I had to reboot in order to
get it to work. 

    If you’ve used
previous versions of iGuidance, you may remember the
ability to choose map data based on state or city
location radius. This was great since you only had
to copy the amount of data that you were going to be
needing.  Version 4 has removed this essential
capability and now you are required to copy and
install all 1.4GB of map data to your device in
order to use the software. 

   
The removal of the old Map Loader program is very
disappointing since it causes many other problems
and annoyances with the software. Presumably, the
removal was due to the addition of the software
activation "feature".  Software activation is
used to combat piracy in sharing the software and is
intended to increase income by requiring purchasing
of the software.

PRODUCT FEATURES

    The actual Pocket PC software has not
changed much, if at all since version 3.  The
only thing you’ll notice is the text-to-speech
feature for announcing street names, and the
extremely reduced performance due to the requirement
that you load the entire North American map data
files on your storage card. 

    When first launching
the software, a bunch of security dialogs pop up
repeatedly.  If you pause and don’t answer Yes
to each of them the pop-ups will go away and
iGuidance won’t launch at all until you do a soft
reset.

Subsequent launches of
the program take about 13 seconds everytime. This is
much much slower than previous versions.

    One of the reasons I
loved iGuidance in the past was because it used the
same interface as Pocket PC 2002/2003.  Of
course, now we’re at Windows Mobile 6 and it still
uses the ancient interface instead of the newer soft
key menu implementation.

    When navigating, the
frame rate speed of the map movement is at best 1
frame per second, but often closer to 1 frame per 3
seconds. Luckily this does not seem to impair the
speed and accuracy of the voice prompts.

Just like version 3,
the display changes during turns.

The menu screen is the
same as version 3. The white type is difficult to
read when it overlaps the white highlight part of
the buttons.

Nothing new in the GPS
info screen.  The info screen in version 2 was
much better and contained more information.

All of the same
options from versions 2 and 3 are still here. If
you’d like to see more information about this
features, see Tim Adam’s reviews of iGuidance v2 and iGuidance v3.





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HELP SUPPORT

    iNav has some support
options on their website. There's a Frequently Asked Questions page, online manual, links to 3rd party forums, updates page, and contacts page.  The manual included with
the DVD is not very accurate.  It did not tell
me that I am required to install the Laptop/UMPC
version in order to use the Map Loader software.

iGuidance does include
a standard searchable Help file, which is nice. Most
GPS navigation programs have difficult to use help
features.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

    The
iGuidance DVD includes versions of the software for a Laptop/UMPC/car PC
as well as for Pocket PC/Professional devices. For the Windows XP and Vista version,
you need a P4 CPU or higher, 1GB RAM, 1.4GB hard disk space, DVD ROM
drive, and GPS receiver. For the Pocket PC version you need
WM 2003/WM 5.0/WM 6, 2GB memory card, 15-20MB of program memory, and a GPS
receiver connection (Bluetooth, serial, or built-in).

BUGS AND WISHES

    Most of the things that made iGuidance such a great
navigation program in the past have been removed in
version 4. It's no longer the fastest GPS navigation
program; it's significantly slower than version 3.
This is probably because of the requirement to load
1.4Gb of map data on your device. With smaller map
sets, the software was much faster.

    
I've already listed most of the other problems with
version 4 in the rest of the review, but I'll go
over them again.  Setup was very frustrating.
There's no way of knowing that you HAVE to install a
Windows version of the program in order to get the
map data onto your Pocket PC. The manual suggests
copying the map data manually, which also does not
work. 

   
I wish they had implemented the Windows Mobile 5.0/6
softkey menus so that you could interact with the
software using hardware buttons. The ancient
interface still requires use of the touch screen and
tiny menus.  I also wish I could generate map
set data in the same way as previous versions so
that I wouldn't have to waste 1.4Gb of storage card
memory space.

PURCHASING

    You can purchase iGuidance 4 from the iNav store for about $109. The upgrade from a
previous version is $79. You can also find the full
version at BuyGPSNow.com for $99.95.  A 14 day trial version is also available for $3.95 and
you can easily upgrade to the full version from that
without having to order another DVD.


PROS


  • Text-to-Speech announces street names


  • New NAVTEQ map data


  • Announces
    side-of-street for destinations

CONS


  • Extremely
    slow loading


  • Very sluggish map movement


  • Can't load smaller custom
    map data sets anymore


  • Requires
    1.4GB of storage card memory


  • Still uses
    ancient Pocket PC 2000 style interface


  • Installation has become much more difficult

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall


OVERALL IMPRESSION

    While I've always considered iGuidance to
be the "least annoying" GPS navigation program, the
negatives in version 4 certainly out-weigh the
positives. While the installation issues can be
forgiven since you'll only have to go through those
frustrations once, the speed issues are a
deal-breaker for me. The excessive storage space
requirements can also be forgiven since high
capacity memory storage cards are pretty inexpensive
and widely available these days, but many devices
can only support 2GB memory cards.  So that
leaves you only about 600mb of free space for music,
movies, photos, and other documents while the other
1.4GB is wasted on un-used memory-hogging map data. 
Generally with previous versions of iGuidance I
would only need a 60 mile radius worth of map data,
which only took up about 40MB of memory card space.

    
I would have
been much happier with updated map data for
iGuidance v3, and well… the Windows Mobile 6
compatible menus.  The things that you lose in
iGuidance v4 (speed, flexibility, storage memory)
really are not worth sacrificing for the minor
things you gain (updated maps and text-to-speech).

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!