The World Navigator software from Teletype can be bundled with the GPS hardware or purchased separately. There is a separate review of the hardware Teletype GPS product so this review will focus on only the software product as a separate mapping/navigation product and its interaction with the hardware.
The product reviewed is the USA Release Pro Edition, Version 032003(f). I used it on an iPAQ 3970 pocketPC and a memplug sleeve used to store maps and support the Teletype CF receivers. This product is the swiss army knife of GPS mapping products. It can do almost anything you might imagine but like the swiss army knife it can seem a bit bulky and cumbersome to use sometimes. This product requires a stylus to operate it correctly. You can't get by with using your fingers due to the size of the buttons you have to tap. If you are using this while driving I would suggest a finger stylus. Be especially careful or better yet get a second person to use the tool. There is hardware key support so some things can be accomplished by the driver.
This is one of those programs that some people love and other people hate depending on how they feel about the user interface or problems that they may have experienced. If you had problems with the program in the past I would suggest you give the latest version a try. They seem to have ironed out most of the wrinkles in this version although I do believe that they still have a ways to go in improving the product further and working out some quality control issues. The customer support is first rate and if you have problems be sure and give them a call. Not everything about this program is documented but the help file on the ppc does work in this latest version. As is normal on the pocketpc, the help file does not contain illustrations. To view the manual with pictures I would suggest downloading the manual in pdf format and viewing it in acrobat reader for the pocketpc or look at the same document on the where the help file does have pictures.
There are so many features on this product that this review will only be able to cover the major ones and just mention some of the others. Some features require extra cost add-on products. These include aviation mode and marine charts as well as some others. The review will focus primarily on the road based product with some information on the topo map capability.
My testing included short trips and long trips of more than 400 miles, mostly in California. It also includes a few short hikes.
The product arrives with 2 CDROMS and lots of hardware including a mount for my pocketpc, a case, a battery pack to recharge the batteries, a pen with a screen pointer, a 12/24 volt power adapter, a CF to PCMCIA adapter, and a GPS. The hardware is covered in a separate review. The CDROMs contain road and street maps of the USA and the program itself. You get two separate products, one for the pc and one for the pocketpc. They work almost identically and the pc version could easily be used on a laptop or tablet pc to provide the same functions as the pocketpc version. This review covers the pocketpc but since the two function the same you could apply it to the pc version as well. The pc version differs, primarily, in the size of the screen and the use of a mouse.
Inserting the first CDROM installs the pc version and/or the pocketpc version. The pocketpc version can be loaded into ram or to a card. There is a slight speed penalty running from the card but it will work. Once the software is installed use the CDROM to select the maps you want to install on the pc. Only maps installed on the pc can be downloaded to the pocketpc. You will be prompted to switch CD's if needed. Be sure and get the highway maps as well. There are maps for the entire United States including Alaska and Hawaii as well as DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Midway, and the Virgin Islands.
Map installation on the pocketpc is done by pushing the maps to the pocketpc by using the pc version of the tool. There are several ways to download maps to the ppc. All require starting the tool on the pc. Generally the full state or multiple states are loaded to the pc but only a subset is downloaded to the pocketpc since storage on the pocketpc is limited.
When you have finished loading the maps to your ppc you will usually have a state highway map and one or more counties. You may have more than one state of course. If you want to remove some maps from the pocketpc you should find the 'Maps' directory on your card and use file explorer to remove the files. You can use the 'file->manage map' command in the program to find out the names of the maps.
Click on the application menu choice to start it up. It can be found on the start menu. Initially the screen will only show a list of cities for the US forming a crude map of the entire country. You will need more detailed maps, of course. These can be loaded several different ways. First you need to zoom and pan until you have the cities you are interested in displayed on the map. You can use the +/- for zooming and the arrows for panning. The mouse/stylus can also be used to define a zoom area which is then clicked/tapped. You can go to a particular zoom level directly using the 'View->Zoom' menu. Panning can also be done with the rocker button on the ppc or the arrow keys on the pc. Once you have an area you are interested in then you can load the maps.
Once you have maps loaded you should have a view similar to the one shown above. It is similar to the view on the pc except that I have moved the scale on top of the scroll keys to make more room for the maps. (You can do this by dragging the bar at the left of the scale.) The X at the right of the scale can be used to exit the program since the X in the banner only places it in background and leaves it running.
The airplane near the center represents my current location and there is a trace line extending out the back that shows where I came from. If the gps is plugged in when the program is started it will be found automatically even if you used a serial device one time and a CF device the next. The icon used for displaying the gps location on the map may be chosen from a list. See below for more on gps operation.
The lower left and right corners of the map show optional text fields that may be customized to view useful data. These can be shown if desired in each of the 4 corners. I am showing the current speed and altitude. Near the upper left corner is an arrow showing the direction of North since I am using a track up view of the map. Both track up and north up are supported.
In addition the street and highway maps shown in the image it is also possible to load raster image maps. This can be loaded with or without the streets maps. There is more information on this topic in the map section below.
While the maps are useful by themselves and you can even find locations and generate travel instructions the real power of the program is to use it with a GPS. Both serial devices supporting NMEA mode and CF (compact flash) GPS devices are supported, however the only CF devices that will work with this program are those sold directly by Teletype or through a teletype vendor. Nor will it work with any sleeve GPS devices. This is a marketing decision, not a technical one. This restriction does not apply to serial devices.
The image shown is the screen that appears if you select "Tools->GPS Status". The tab at the top will toggle between position and status but the status page is the main one you will use. The position page is a pure text display with one selectable display field. This display field can be changed to show different things but they depend on the corresponding data to be available from the gps. I have found that some data is indicated with integers where the decimal point is missing. For example HDOP is displayed as 1800 when it should be 1.8. A display of 0 usually means the value is not present on the GPS that is hooked up. This field can be used to display the fact that you have a differential fix if the receiver supports WAAS and is currently receiving WAAS corrections. The status page shows your fix data and can be used to start and stop gps operation. Signal strength of the various satellites is shown but there is no way to display the satellite position map. You can also start and stop a gps log from this page which is in addition to the trace file which is always running (unless turned off in preferences.) and can be saved at anytime. The log file is a recording of NMEA data.
For serial port testing I used several Garmin receivers and a Deluo mouse GPS. These provide similar functionality to the CF receivers except that if you wish to use the initialize function from Teletype it will only work with GPS units that use the SiRF chipset. The initialize function is a selection on the form that appears if you do a search for a city as described above. The initialize function can be used to speed up initial satellite fixes under conditions where the unit has be moved significantly between uses. For example, you take the unit on an airplane trip and then fire it up in a new location. Using the initialize function can significantly improve the time for this first fix in the new location but it is optional since the most gps units will eventually get a fix anyway but this could take up to 10 minutes. Most standalone units have their own function for initializing a position so this feature is not needed with them.
The GPS position is normally displayed near the center of the screen. This behavior is under control of the 'view->Center my position' command. When operating in this mode you can have the map display north up always or current direction up. This GPS mode needs to be turned off before doing searches (if you want to view the location of the result) or before panning. Panning only works with North up. Panning is normally done using the rocker panel keys or the arrow keys at the top of the display.
You can search for poi's and for addresses using the 'tools->Find' command. Address searches are remembered in a history and you can also search using an address from your address book. If poi's are loaded you can use the 'find other' command to find poi's and waypoints that you may have saved (see next paragraph for an introduction to waypoints). The order of the resultant list seems random but the distance is listed to help you make a choice. You can use the goto button to view the results and in the case of poi's you can tap on them for more information about the poi such as a phone number. You can return to the find results to choose another choice if you wish by bringing up find again.
Waypoints are specific places you may have saved for some reason such as the location of your home or other favorite places. The 'tools->position->Mark Position' command can be used to make a waypoint at your current location any time you have a fix. Using tap and hold on any point on the screen will bring up a menu that permits you to mark a waypoint at any screen position. This is a very powerful capability of the program. If you have poi's loaded and the display of poi's turned on you can also select one by just tapping on it. This will provide information available about the poi and will offer the opportunity to add this poi to your waypoint list. There is a section below on how to manage the waypoints you create.
There is a goto option on the find menu and it can be used to provide simple navigation using the air navigation display or the marine navigation display. The air navigation display is shown on the left while the marine navigation display is shown below. Either one can be turned on from Tools->Navigation. The air display shows the altitude, bearing, and speed all of the time and when navigating it shows the distance to go and the cross track error. The lower right corner shows the number of satellites being used in the current navigation fix. All of the navigation panels show this information in the lower right corner. This display is useful as an alternative the small boxes for display of speed and altitude even when not navigating. The simple navigation goto option can be used with any result from the find search including address, poi's and waypoints.
While these panels do not provide turn by turn routing they do provide general guidance in the direction of the target destination. For some people this is enough information to get them where they want to go. The marine page is similar to the air page but adds a lot more GPS specific data such as type of fix and your lat/lon location. I wish the data was larger or bold since it can be difficult to read at a distance while your vehicle is in motion. I think some improvement could be made without changing the size of the panel itself. The air panel is much better. For some reason the data has been moved around on the marine panel as compared to the air panel so you have to learn the locations over again. This is a general critique of this product in that nothing is ever standardized. The data gets moved around, the buttons are moved around and the operation of the various screens are not consistent. This leads to the complexity of operation for the product. Neither panel works with data from the router.
Teletype does not use road lock for the gps so the maps can be used for onroad or offroad, and marine or air use. The map cursor will flash when gps reception is present. If it quits flashing this is a good indication that the gps is not operating. Sometimes the display will show this or you an deduce it from the number of satellites being shown.
In addition to the simple navigation described above there is a full street by street routing capability that will provide turn by turn instructions, visual and audible, that will guide you to the destination you choose. The standard road guidance panel is displayed on the left. It will appear automatically if you create a route and do not have a navigation panel turned on. Unfortunately it won't turn off automatically if you disable the route. There are three lines of navigation on the panel the first line shows information about the upcoming turn, the second line tells about the next turn after that, and the final line shows progress being made toward the destination. As with the air navigation panel a number at the lower right corner shows the number of satellites being used in the gps solution.
Tapping the first line will bring up the route screen described below. Tapping the second line will bring up the waypoint screen and tapping the third line will bring up the route description. You can also tap the arrow in the corner of the first line to switch the panel display to the one shown on the right. This shows exactly the same information as the first line of the regular panel except it is easier to read. Be careful to hit the arrow or you will bring up the route screen. Tapping the lower right corner where the number of satellites is display will switch to the gps status page. If you lose a fix the display will sometimes switch to display a position not fixed message. This is a bit unfortunate since the turn data might still be useful for the first turn.
As you get close to a turn a screen will pop up and provide warning about the upcoming turn. When this screen appears and how long it displays is configurable. You will also get a voice prompt if enabled. The voice can be either from a canned voice message or it can by a synthesized voice. The canned voice messages are short and there are not very many of them. They basically say 'turn left', 'turn right', 'missed turn', etc. and no distance or other information about the turn. There are many more messages available with the synthesized voice. It does not provide any distances but will tell you the name of the street you are about to turn on. This is a very useful feature. It will also give other information messages like telling you if you lose a gps lock. The road names are a bit verbose in that it gives you all of the variant names and the GDT database seems to have a lot. The voice does not know about many standard road abbreviations so it will spell out RD rather than saying Road. When you get to the point for the turn you will hear a funny noise but I hope you are already turning because it is too late for a warning.
If you get off course the unit can automatically recalculate the route to guide you back. However there is no U-turn message so it never tells you to turn around. Instead it may say turn left onto the same road and the second entry will be continue. This non-obvious behavior can take some getting used to. In addition, if you are on the road it wants you to be on but going the wrong way it will not detect this fact. You will have to notice that the distances are getting larger and initiate a recalculation manually or just turn around depending on the situation.
The automatic routing tool can be found from 'Route->New'. There are other choices on the route menu selection that can be used to clear and existing route, save a route for later re-use, Load a saved route, view the routing list, re-calculate a route, and setting the preferences for route calculation. The pc version also has the ability to export a route to the pocketpc. Thus you can route on the pc and then download the route for use on the pocketpc. Doing the route on the pc can be useful for route planning.
The automatic routing on this release is faster than previous versions and produces good results in most cases. It is not the fastest router in the marketplace but for long distance routing the user can couple highway maps with local road maps to really speed up finding a route solution. The real power of this router is the control. The user can select quickest, shortest, and avoid highways which is pretty standard, but there is also a via Ferry option and an esoteric routing area control that can be tuned to produce the results you wish given the time you want to wait. The big news, however, is the ability to specify roads that are to be avoided. This means that the router can be told not to use a given street at all which can really improve route results when the user has some knowledge of the area. In addition, if the route picks a bad road such as a road block the user can tell the router to avoid that road and produce another route around that road.
A tour of this screen should point out how it can be used. The menu at the bottom of the screen is bogus. It cannot be used on any of the screens except the map screen. On this screen the commands are location in the 6 icons at the right center of the screen. The book represents the address book on the pocketpc. It can be used to look up addresses. The clock is an address history list. The magnifier is a find command and can be used to search for something. The push pin is represents the current gps location. The road picture is the route command and the two arrows swap the 'from' and 'to' entries.
To use this screen you need to select both a 'From' and a 'To' and then push the route icon. The 'From' can be your current gps location so you can just press the push pin icon to fill in this box if you wish or you can select from any of the other choices like you would for the 'To' box. There are two kinds of things you can search for. Click on street for street addresses, address book lookup, or address history. If poi/apt is selected you won't see the results of your address book search so if the results don't show up check to make sure you have selected street. This is not done automatically for you. Once you have an address in the data fields shown here you will press the search magnifier to locate that address relative to the map database. This can take a little time. Select the correct choice for the destination. Note that the address book entry search could return either a home address or a business address. You will need to click on the correct one to get the actual address to appear. If you want to search or use waypoints select the poi/apt choice. The form will change to allow you to enter the search data. You will still need to select the data box before you can enter the data. The data can be anything in the poi database or any of the waypoints you have saved. Once you have the source and destination selected you can kick off the route.
For the route to be successful you will need to have previously loaded local maps for both the 'From' and the 'To'. The unit itself will load highway maps, if available, to connect the two local maps. It will not tell you of missing maps, rather the route will just eventually fail to complete. Note that this command can route from an address to a poi, from a waypoint to an address, or any combination of choices. However for waypoint to waypoint routing you might prefer the waypoint form.
Once the route is complete the entire route will be shown on the map screen. There is an automatic rezoom function once you start the route but I haven't found that it works very well so I usually zoom manually to the level I want. Zooming can be done with the +/- or the to right hardware buttons can be used. You can also view the route directions separately on its own screen as shown on the right. This is a view only screen and cannot be used for navigation. Any attempt to edit the data on this screen will send you back to the map screen.
The new avoid function deserves some more information. This feature can be used in a very powerful way to modify the results produced by the router. The user can tap any road on the screen to bring a dialog box describing that road. The box is model and must be ok'd to get rid of it which can be a pain if you just clicked the screen to turn on the light, but it does offer the avoid choices that can be useful. A user can tag the name of the street or an area around the point clicked. There is also an option to initiate an recalculate based on adding the avoid marker. Avoid markers look and act like waypoints with a different icon and show up in waypoint searches. They can also be generated as a menu choice from tap and hold.
Avoid street mean the entire length of the street no matter how far it goes. Avoid region means a 3 mile radius around the point you clicked. These can be used ahead of time and saved in a file or generated on the spot when a situation is encountered. For example, say you are following a route and find it leads down a dirt road that you don't want to take. Click the road on the map and select recalculate, avoid road name. This will recalculate the route after marking this road as not usable. Do not use the recalculate with avoid region in cases like this. The tool won't complain but after a long calculation the route calculation will fail. The reason is that, so long as you are within 3 miles of the location you picked the route cannot connect since none of the roads within that radius can be used. This is another example where the tool could be more helpful. This can also happen with the road name avoid if you are far enough down the road before the situation develops. It won't use the road even though you are currently on it. If you are in this situation I would suggest you use the trace line on the screen to backtrack your route by visually following the map until you can reach a place where a recalculate will work. So, while the avoid feature is useful the implementation limits what you can do with it.
Recalculation is automatic when you get off the road but a configurable distance. Sometimes map inaccuracy can kick off a recalculate so if this happens you can change this value. If you have the highway page loaded and a recalculation happens while you are between roads the unit will load the local map (if present) and use it for the recalculation.
The real power of this tool is unleashed on the waypoint form which can be accessed with the 'tools->waypoint' command. The waypoint form is very powerful but a bit cluttered and can be somewhat difficult to learn to use effectively. This is an advanced form and beginning users can use the tool without ever visiting this form.
The commands on this form are in icons across the top of the screen and a few boxes scattered around. The main part of the form is large box on the left side which lists all of the waypoints currently loaded in the program. They are collected into separate headings forming a hierarchy of data. The box is typically too small for the data so you can scroll it as needed. The folder headings can be used to refine routes as well as just collection points. By default there is a folder called general.way where waypoints you have saved are listed. There may also be an avoid.way folder that will contain all of the avoid waypoints you define. Each .way file is saved on the disk in your documents area and will generally be preserved from one session to the next. It is a good idea, however, to back these files up since program crashes or unloads can wipe out some of these files. In particular the default waypoint file and the avoid file should not be used for things you want to keep. If you generate a route a copy will be stored here as well under the name route.way. It will consist of a series of temporary waypoints with a start and end. Unlike the route list shown above this list is live and commands can be performed on the data in the list. A tap on any of the waypoints in this box will cause information to be displayed on the form. the name will appear near the top, the location will show in the lat/lon boxes, and the notes box may have data in it. For the temporary route points the notes data will show the distance to the end of the route from the point tapped. Any tapped point will remain highlighted and can be the object of the commands available on this page.
Most of the commands on the page work with a highlighted waypoint but a few work with a highlighted folder. These commands are described left to right from the top down:
The general and avoid files are special and built automatically. The avoid waypoints should work from any folder but I have found that they sometimes need to be in the avoid folder. Typically I have a lot of these waypoints and have the visibility turned off.
Teletype used GDT maps for their road database. For a description of GDT maps check my article on map makers. Once the decision was made to use GDT maps there is very little control that Teletype has over the map database. They will provide user discovered errors to GDT. However, from the user perspective the database can make the product useful or worthless so I will give a few comments on it now. Note that the impressions about a map are very dependent on where you happen to live. Map databases are all inaccurate in places and fairly accurate in other places so if you happen to live in a place with good accuracy and coverage you will be pleased with the maps but if you live in a neglected place you will not be pleased. This is especially true of these maps which provide somewhat spotty coverage and accuracy for the US.
I happen to live in a spot with very poor maps from GDT. I would expect that I can easily find 100 errors in the maps within 10 miles of my house. These errors range from roads that are displaced from their true location, roads that are missing, roads that don't exist but are on the maps, roads that have extra database points in them causing the program to tell you about turns that do not exist (there are lots of these where I live), and roads that are misnamed or not named. Misnamed roads are especially prevalent near my house. A intersection of two road will result in the connection name being called by the wrong name in many places. Consider this.
Road B | | | Road A ----------|road C |
The section of road between road A and road B should be road A but the database will often call it road B. Therefore the autorouter will tell you to turn from road C to road B but in fact the road B never intersects with road C and is clearly not on the road sign. This can be very confusing for someone who does not know the area and negates the great feature of the synthesized voice calling out the road name. Sometimes this error is coupled with a graphic error distorting the shape of the intersection as well. Be sure and follow the map rather than the instructions. Other errors include routing me through private roads with locked gates. The avoid capability is wonderful for blocking these roads.
There are good highway maps that accompany this product. They have been improved considerably over the last 6 months or so and can now successfully intersect with detailed maps in every county and are usable to traverse the area between the starting point and the destination. I did find a few important interconnecting roads missing but this is probably always going to be the case with general road maps. You cannot find information about the roadways on the highway map by clicking. However there are lots of shields that appear every now an then for freeways. I have seen 6 or more on a single screen practically covering up the screen. I thought I was being attacked by a roman legion. At other times there were none.
A new feature in the base product is the support for topo maps and aerial photos. The web site tells how to download topo maps and aerial photos for use with this program. You can follow the instructions but you will not be able to get them to work as the instructions say. This is because Microsoft will not save a bmp file directly as needed by the program. The file saved is a jpg file but it can be converted to a bmp file and used in the same way. To do the conversion I suggest the paint program and follow these steps to convert the file from jpg to bmp.
This file can be loaded into Teletype and used with or without the road map. The road map overlays the topo map. Use the 'file->load->load map' command to load the file. Be sure and click the .jpw file as the program gets confused if you click the .bmp file directly. If you move these files from your pc you will need three files, the .bmp file and the two text files. Note that the topo map is only a picture so don't expect to be able to search for things on it or expect the zoom to be very high quality. You can load multiple topo maps but the server map sizes and pan features do not permit you to easily make maps that will exactly line up edge to edge. Overlapping multiple maps loaded into teletype do not align perfectly resulting in a blurred area where the maps overlap.
While we are talking about raster images I should point out that you can also load weather radar images into teletype. Just make sure you have a network connection (ActiveSync can provide this if set up correctly) and make sure you have copied the radar file to the pocketpc. You will likely have to zoom out quite a bit to load and see the map but it is very useful when there is a storm in the area. It works really well with the road map loaded. This map can be unloaded when you are done with it but you will need to know its name. It is a bmp file with a four letter name beginning with K. The rest of the name varies depending on which radar site you used.
Other raster maps are supported for marine and air use but these require a separate license.
There are lots of customizations that can be done from the 'view->preferences' command. There are many more preferences in the form that just viewing. You can set up a speed warning (only a fixed speed), set the north up or track up preference, set the voice preferences, the viewing map features preferences such as poi's, and coordinate preferences (which are always in a degree format). These positions formats are shown on the waypoint page but not on the GPS position page. You need to turn on the highway in order to see the highway maps and the poi's in order to see them (except restaurants) but the roads choice only makes the roads show up at higher zoom levels. Generally you will want to leave this checkmark off. The highways will be used by the router if loaded even though you are not viewing them. Sometimes the performance in areas of local roads can be enhanced a bit if the highways are turned off.
Visible Restaurants can be filtered to show only the ones you like. Direction prompts can be customized for distance and duration. (I recommend you increase the duration so you can see it.) Units can be changed from nautical, statute, or metric and a few esoteric units like m/s. You can change the position format from lat/lon to UTM in a different place from the other position formats. I am not sure where this is used. Language can be changed to any of 6 different choices. Even the weather display and internet connection can be customized.
There are screen display customizations for display of data in each corner of the screen and the hardware buttons on the pocketpc can be customized as well. The trace cursor can be changed and even the datum can be changed to make the database report values that agree with your paper map.
Many of these have already been mentioned in the text. They will not be repeated here.
While this is the longest review I have written it does not cover all of the features of this product. I found the product to be very powerful but the learning curve is pretty steep. There are continuing problems but they are getting smaller with each release. I had several releases to fix problems during the course of the review (several months). Quality control is not a high enough priority it seems.
This program provides a wide variety of features, many that are way beyond competition programs, and does the job it is designed to do. The waypoint features alone may be reason enough to use this product.
A side benefit is that you get a fully functional pc product for free when you buy the pocketpc product.
I have obtained comments on this review from Teletype to ensure that it is technically accurate, but the opinions and ideas are mine. The folks at Teletype have been gracious and have informed me that they are currently working on many of the limitations and issues mentioned in this review. They have also hired more QA folks to address the quality issues.
By Dale DePriest - All rights reserved.