ALK Technologies - Technology that Drives Transportation - GPS Navigation Evolved



Media Coverage

Hands-on review

Reviewed by Daniel A. Begun
January 5, 2004

For turn-by-turn directions, GPS mapping doesn't get much easier than this.

The good: Very easy-to-generate turn-by-turn driving directions; overall solid driving directions; integrates with Pocket Outlook; Bluetooth; includes 12-volt car power adapter.

The bad: Driving directions are occasionally confusing; sometimes sends you the wrong way down one-way streets.

ALK Technologies' CoPilot Live Pocket PC 4 ($349 direct) is possibly one of the simplest-to-use GPS-mapping kits we've seen. Once the hardware and the software are working on your Pocket PC, getting directions is simple.

The kit includes a 12-channel CompactFlash receiver based on the SiRFstarIIe chipset, and the entire bundle weighs 2.1 ounces and measures 2.9 by 1.6 by 3.4 inches. (At press time, ALK started offering an updated receiver based on the SiRFstarIIe/LP chipset.) Although the receiver draws its power from the Pocket PC device, the kit conveniently comes with a 12-volt car adapter and includes an external antenna with a built-in magnet for placement on a car roof.

We found the CoPilot Live desktop software easy to use. You can select an area of any size to download, and you may adjust which types of points of interest (POI) to include. You are limited by only your handheld's available memory; for example, the dataset for New York City with a 25-mile radius and all available POI took up 15MB.

As soon the receiver acquires the necessary signals, which can take a few minutes, the software automatically provides text-based and voice-based turn-by-turn directions to your chosen destination. If you miss a turn, it will recalculate a new route for you. The receiver is very responsive, minus some momentary losses of signal due to obstructions.

The handheld software also lets you display your current location on a map, edit the directions to your liking, or customize the data shown by the app. If the handheld has wireless Internet access, it can receive a text message or even a new trip from someone using the desktop software or ALK's Web site.

Overall, we found the driving directions accurate and easy to understand. However, they were occasionally confusing or even potentially dangerous (sending us the wrong way down one-way streets). Additionally, the interface gets somewhat vexing beyond the basics, though it's nothing that studying the instruction manual won't remedy.

Reviewed by Daniel A. Begun