Evesham integrated GPS PocketPC

Mitac Mio + CoPilot Live 4


Move into Guidance mode, and CoPilot first makes sure you've got a GPS signal and then proceeds to tell you where you are and how to get to your destination. Sensibly, it offers voice directions, using voice synthesis technology from Fonix. The benefit is that street names and so on are read out syllable by syllable, sparing ALK from building a vast database of WAV files for all the possible word permutations the software is likely to need to speak out. The downside is that it's somehow more robotic, less reassuring.

Having tried both techniques - Navman's SmartST Pro uses the 'stitched together WAV files' approach - I'm not sure one is better than the other, but I certainly found Navman's voices easier to hear while driving. Some of the fault lies with Windows Mobile 2003's poor sound quality, but a few times I was unable to hear quite what CoPilot had said because of crackles on the speaker. That wasn't an issue with SmartST Pro and the iPaq it was running on.

Still, CoPilot does at least speak out street names that SmartST Pro can't because of memory induced limitations to the size of its WAV database.

SmartST Pro's maps are more visually appealing than CoPilot's but that shouldn't be an issue when you're driving - after all, you're not supposed to be looking at the screen too often. Just as well, since the Mio's display was tricky to read in the light streaming through my windshield.

Incidentally, both SmartST Pro and CoPilot use maps produced by NavTeq, and I found them to be both accurate and detailed enough for a test drive around the highways and byways of North London. Evesham ships CoPilot with a UK and Ireland map, but ALK does offer a Continental Europe separately on CD - it will sell you the upgrade for £100. Unlike other companies, it offers the whole of Europe, not individual countries.

Back on track

CoPilot had no trouble when we temporarily slipped into 'can't find the right road for toffee' mode to test its on-the-fly journey replanning. It got us back on the right route pretty quickly, and I was soon driving in the direction I was supposed to be going.

ALK CoPilot Live 4 Navigation   ALK CoPilot Live 4 Navigation

Next page: Verdict

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