Friday, November 12, 2004
Posted by Ryan Joseph in "HARDWARE" @ 10:00 AM
Figure 3: The main menu...your wish is Viki's command.
The handheld version is where the real power is. It sometimes takes a few minutes to get a GPS fix, but once it does, Viki knows where you are. The first time I put an address in for driving directions, I was surprised that there was no From field, just where I wanted to end up. Then I realized that it used my current position as the starting point. Way cool. :mrgreen:
For general mapping purposes, SmartST displays a view from straight above with North being up:
Figure 4: The view from above...Viki's watching you.
But when you're en route, the software shows a very cool 3D map view that rotates with your movement so you're always facing your route:
Figure 5: The route view...Viki's guiding you.
When a route is in use, the device speaks directions out loud to you. There are both male and female voices. I chose the female voice and, as I said, found her so helpful that I named her Viki. The speaker on the device is very loud and very clear. Most of the time I left it at half volume and could still hear it over the engine noise.
Viki also seamlessly switched between states. Other GPS software that I've used will work fine until a state border, then it will stop and say, "Loading New Jersey" for a few seconds before going back to the map. Not so with SmartST. It treated it as if there were no break.
Figure 6: GPS status...Viki knows where you are.
As far as the actual directions go, Viki was pretty good, but she didn't know everything. Some of the more notable hiccups were: once she completely didn't know where a massive four-lane freeway was and insisted on showing my position out in the middle of a field...as soon as I got off the freeway, she picked right back up again; once she told me to take an exit that wasn't there; more than once she directed me along dirt or gravel roads that, in my opinion, shouldn't be considered roads at all :?; etc.