About a month ago we reviewed TomTom Navigator, a PocketPC GPS navigation package. TomTom is a very well-known name in Europe, however their US offering is a little bit behind their European counterpart. We ventured out to look for the latest and greatest in US-based GPS navigation software and stumbled upon iNav iGuidance 2.0, freshly released just weeks ago. Surprised by some of its features we've obtained a copy and have been giving it a whirl for the past couple of weeks.
iGuidance 2.0 comes supplied on 2 CDs that include guidance information for the entire United States and Canada. A quick installation procedure sets up the Map Loader application on your desktop computer and schedules Microsoft's ActiveSync to install the software to the PocketPC. As you can imagine, having detailed information about every road and every point of interest requires massive amounts of data, certainly too much for most portable devices equipped with a few hundred megabyte of storage at most. While flash memory cards with multiple gigabytes of storage capacity are available and could provide the necessary storage, unless you are taking a cross-country road trip you will never need more than a few hundred miles worth of coverage. Having said that, iGuidance, just like most other GPS navigation software packages, lets you pick map sections to be loaded onto your PocketPC for navigation.
The Map Loader application lets you pick arbitrary states and provinces or generates data for a given mile radius surrounding a city. We found the second option quite handy as we chose a 100-mile radius around our office – enough for everyday driving. After a quick ActiveSync session your PocketPC is ready to go.
As loading a set of maps can take some time (from a few minutes to perhaps half an hour when loading most of Northern America) we found a trick worth mentioning. iGuidance stores all map data in \iNav iGuidance\ directory on your C: drive or your PocketPC's storage device. The map data format is similar for the PocketPC and notebook version so you can maintain several sets of map data on your notebook for quick access. This comes extremely handy if the storage space on your PocketPC is limited and you frequently go between two distant locations, for example your main residence and a summer vacation spot.
In order to efficiently manage the maps first generate map data for your first location – then rename c:\iNav iGuidance\ directory. Load another set – and you’ll see that iGuidance recreated the folder with a new set of maps. You can now freely rename the directories back and forth to switch your datasets. You can also copy these folders to your PocketPC overwriting existing files to switch your available map data without the need to re-generate map information every time.