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!
The new features that iGuidance 4 adds are text to speech support and updated map/POI data. That's about it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Text-to-Speech announces street names
- New NAVTEQ map data
- Announces side-of-street for destinations
- 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
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).