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Reviews

Destinator PN 5 Navigation Software

By Adam Z. Lein February 21, 2006, 12:00 am


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INTRODUCTION

There are quite a
few GPS Navigation programs for Windows Mobile
devices out there right now. It’s not easy choosing
which one is right for you. Destinator is another
navigation program that has seen success in the
European market and lately has been looking to
expand their operations in the North American
market. While we have yet to see a GPS Navigation
system that is perfect in all ways, the feature set of Destinator PN looks pretty attractive. How well did it perform in real world testing? Read on for the full story!


 

WHAT’S HOT

Destinator PN 5 has all of the
important features for a GPS Navigation program.
You’ve got very accurate NAVTEQ maps, the ability to
create custom maps sets with a variety of tools, and
it’s also got timely voice prompts.

 

SETUP

Setup requires installing the
Destinator Console to your desktop as well as installing Destinator PN
to your Pocket PC. The Console is used for installing user-selected maps
to your device.

(Desktop images link to higher resolution)

You’ve got to go through an
activation process to get the software working first
though.

You can select pre-created map sets from the console
to copy to your device.

The Destinator Console lets you install a variety of
languages as well as TMC data.

Or you can use the Map Cutter to create a custom map
set.

You can even create a route in the Map Cutter and
export a corridor around that route as your map
data.

On the Pocket PC side, launching Destinator gives you a usual warning
message about safety.

You have to set up your GPS connection in the GPS
Settings area.

Once you’ve set up the receiver correctly, the GPS
status screen should start to show some connections.
Then you’re ready to go!

 

PROGRAM FEATURES

A splash screen shows the loading
progress of the application.


The map view shows a lot of icons on the
sides that are hard to understand. They’re
transparent though, so you can still see the map
underneath. Another nifty feature is that green
arrow changes its pointy-ness depending on how fast
your going. For example in the above screen shot,
you can tell I’m not moving because the bottom of
the arrow is flat. Another cool thing is that the
shadow there is based on the current time of day and
my location on the Earth. That’s right, it
calculates the angle of my shadow!


The second icon down from the top left corner
toggles between display modes. Here we are in the 2D
night mode. The icon actually indicates the mode
that you WILL switch to if you press it… not the
current view mode like you would expect.

Here we are in the 3D daylight
view mode.

And this is the 3D night view
mode.


The two icons on the lower left corner of the
screen toggle between showing different types of
information in those two transparent bands next to
them. I don’t have time to learn what the icons mean
while driving, so I’ll just keep tapping them until
they show the information I’m looking for. These
icons also represent the type of information that
will be displayed when you press them, NOT the type
of information currently being displayed.


When you’re moving, most of the icons become
even more transparent. That Compass-like icon on the
left shows which direction is North. It functions
like a button, but pressing it doesn’t seem to do
anything. The little red part just points North all
the time.

If you’ve set a destination, your
recommended route shows up as a blue and white line.
How do you enter a destination, you ask?  You have
to press the little car button underneath the
compass.

When you have a destination set,
some other options become available as more info
bars which you can show and hide.


If it’s time for you to make a turn soon,
Destinator will show a big arrow for the direction
you’re going to turn. Notice how my map has
disappeared.  One thing that’s not easily
toggle-able is the info band on the top. You turn
this on by pressing the button in the upper left
corner, but tapping that area again brings you to
the following screen.


Now, how do you get back to the map screen
from here?  I don’t know. The “Show” button shows
you the selected turn. You would think the “Cancel”
button would get you back to where you want to be,
but actually it cancels the whole trip and will stop
directing you. Anyway, this screen lists all the
turns on your trip, and you can select certain areas
to avoid as well.


Getting back to entering a destination: after
you figure out how to press the little car button on
the map screen, the above screen will show up. The
buttons are selectable with the D-Pad, but the two
side-arrow buttons on the bottom are not. They are
not mapped to the Windows Mobile soft keys as you
might expect either. You have to press those with
your finger.


The interface for entering an address is a
bit confusing. That button in the upper left, just
below the left arrow. It looks like a house with an
arrow. That button lets you toggle between which
type of data you’d like to start searching by. Right
now it’s set as City first. Once you select a city,
you tap the “Street” text at the top to select a
street in that City and so forth. When you finish,
you have to press the “Navigate” button at the
bottom left.

The History buttons gives you
quick access to places you’ve already entered.


The Contacts button lets you select an
address from you Contacts database. I really dislike
the keyboard interface here. If you pause too long
between taps for accessing a specific letter, it
starts over from the beginning of the set. It might
be okay if it was T9 predictive text input, but it
isn’t.

The POI button gives you a number
of categories for points of interest.

The Trip planner lets you enter
multiple destinations.

On the Destination screen,
pressing the right arrow gives you an options
screen.

Pressing the right arrow again
gives you the Settings screen.

 

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Destinator PN
5 Navigation Software
February 21, 2006
Review by: Adam Z Lein,
Senior Editor

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HELP SUPPORT

The

support section
on the Destinator website offers
getting started tutorials, answers to frequently
asked questions, program updates, and the ability to
contact tech support. The program updates require
registration in order to access them. One other
problem is that at this time the quick-start
tutorials and learning materials aren’t even there.

 

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The system requirements for your Pocket PC
are as follows:

  • Operating system: Windows Mobile 2003,Windows
    Mobile 2003 SE. (Though WM 5.0 compatibility isn’t specifically listed, it has been confirmed to work on many newer devices with 5.0. Visit WM5FixSite.com for information about patches/fixes.)
  • Memory: 64 MB RAM minimum
  • Storage card: 256 MB (recommended) SD/MMC/CF
  • Connection required for GPS receiver:
    Bluetooth, USB or serial
  • Additional hardware required for TMC function:
    TMC GPS receiver
  • Additional hardware required for SMS function:
    PocketPC Phone Edition

 

BUGS AND WISHES


I had a few problems with Destinator
not working well on my Windows Mobile 5.0 K-JAM. To be
fair, this type of device is not supported.
Hopefully future versions will fix this. The main
problem was that the Destinator Console software
could not copy map sets to the Windows Mobile 5.0
device storage card through ActiveSync. Presumably
this is a problem with Pocket PC Phone Edition
devices, but who knows? If you want to use this on a
Pocket PC Phone Edition device, be prepared to
purchase a memory card reader.

They
software keyboard input method was quite a problem
for me. Each button has 3 letters on it and you have
to tap the button each time to get the correct
letter to display. If you pause too long in between
letters, you’ll get two letters. Furthermore the
input destination screen is a bit confusing. I wish
these GPS Navigation programs could make
destination/address input much easier. I should be
able to just type the address in, and it should
recognize which parts of the address is the house
number, street, city, etc. I shouldn’t have to input
each thing individually and wait for it to search
for each little piece.


In actual use while driving, I don’t like that Destinator
does not specify which side of the street your
destination is on. I also don’t like how after it
says “You have reached your destination,” the
destination is lost. So that means if you drove past
your destination since you don’t know what side of
the street it’s on, or you don’t know where to
park… then you’ll have to figure out how to get
back there on your own, or reset the destination so
that Destinator will take you there again.

 

PURCHASING


The

Destinator website
has a section where you can
search for resellers in order to find a place to
purchase the product.

BuyGPSNow.com
has it for $124.95 as a
software-only package.


 

PROS

  • Accurate
    NAVTEQ maps
  • Route corridor map set
    creation
  • Dependable
    navigation
  • TMC support

 

CONS

  • Doesn’t
    specify side of street for destinations
  • Bad keyboard input interface
  • Confusing interface
  • Doesn’t
    support Windows Mobile 5.0 softkeys or one-handed
    usage
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

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OVERALL IMPRESSION

While the interface is not the
most well-designed for a GPS Navigation program, the
voice prompts and maps were just as accurate as my
gold standard: iGuidance 2.1 GPS navigation program.
I do wish Destinator could specify which side of the
street your destination was on, but overall
Destinator performed quite well in comfortably
getting me from point A to point B.

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