GPS Receiver Sensitivity
The first day that I tried using the GPS locator, it was bright and sunny. I attempted to get the tracking going while at home, right in the middle of my house. After about a minute or so, the locator locked onto a satellite signal and it told me that I was at home.
The second time that I tried using the GPS locator, it was quite cloudy. Attempting a connection from the exact same location, it failed to find any available satellites, even after searching for a solid 10 minutes. A dialog box popped up to inform me of this and to remind me that the receiver needs clear sight to the sky. Moving to an available window, the GPS signal was acquired and locked in less than a minute.
After the initial lockdown, the GPS location would be updated every second or two. This is in line with most standalone GPS navigation devices on the market.
Don’t Use While Driving
I realize that it sounds counter-intuitive, but using Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 while driving is a very bad idea unless you have a passenger who can run the software on your behalf. There are already too many things that you must be aware of as a driver; you can be glancing at your laptop and typing in commands at the same time. I tried and it was a nerve-racking experience.
Standalone GPS devices can be mounted on your windshield and many of them have touchscreen controls. While it’s not the brightest idea to be adjusting the settings while driving, it is doable without taking your eyes off the road for too long. The on-screen controls (or the physical buttons on the unit) can be accessed without paying attention to too much detail. On the laptop, the details are too intricate and it takes you a few moments to orient yourself, let alone move your mouse pointer and/or type in the appropriate commands.
The interface in the software looks like most other desktop software, meaning that there is a pull-down menu system at the top and a taskbar beneath it with quick access buttons. It would be perfectly usable while sitting at your desk, but not exactly usable when you have your hands on a steering wheel.
Turn Right in 2.2 Kilometers
The maps themselves are very well-designed and I particularly like the “perspective view”, because the 3D map that results mimics what you would actually see in front of your car. There are voiced turn-by-turn directions, but the female voice is not capable of reading out the street names. As such, you may have to glance at the screen to see where you should actually be turning, especially in urban areas where the streets are particularly dense.
The points of interest are highlighted as well and if you double-click on their names, information like the phone number and address will pop up. When seeking driving instructions, you can search by business name, as well as address and latitude/longitude. The business listings can be a little outdated, though.
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