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iGuidance 4 mini-review

May 18, 2008

I’ve been on a new GPS-on-my-cell-phone kick for about a week now.  I’ve been downloading trials of software and trying out some solutions my friends seem to like on their phones as well.  Just recently, I got to play around with the new iNav’s iGuidance 4 (iNav Home Page).  Long story short, I’m not terribly impressed.

After using the incredible iGO My Way 2006 for a few days before testing iGuidance 4, iNav’s solution felt sluggish and awkward.  The GUI was much slower than iGO’s interface.  It was also a bit uglier for my taste.  I know that’s a personal preference, but the iGO interface felt smoother, with cleaner, less pixelated graphics.  Also, the button labels in iGuidance were confusing, to say the least.  For instance, when entering an address to route, you’re presented with two button options:  “Nav” and “Map”.  Uh, well, I want to navigate to my destination, but I want to map the route…which one do you choose?  There were numerous examples of this same confusing interface riddled throughout the menus.

As far as I could tell, there were no options to set the layout of the interface in iGuidance.  In iGO 2006, you can switch between portrait and two different landscape modes.  I couldn’t find any similar option in iGuidance, which means I was forced to use portrait mode.  Also, iGuidance didn’t seem to go full screen very easily.  When launching iGO, the full screen is utilized, which, on a 320×240 QVGA screen, means ALOT!  Giving up screen real estate to the Windows Mobile title bar and soft button bar made the whole interface feel cramped in iGuidance.

Now for the one good thing I found in iGuidance:  the text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities.  This one feature was awesome.  Really, this was so great.  I’ve used a Magellan system that had TTS capabilities and it was nowhere near as good as iGuidance’s voice prompts.  The street names were announced very clearly and sounded just like a normal voice as opposed to the Stephen Hawking-like digitized voice on the Magellan unit I’ve used.  The only quirk was when I was told to turn on to highway 100.  It was read out to me as “Turn left onto highway one zero zero”.  You would think that it would be smart enough to recognize 100 as “one hundred”, but whatever.  It’s a minor quirk in an otherwise incredible TTS system.

That being said, the TTS portion of the program was the only redeeming quality I could find in this app.  Now, I have a Sprint Mogul with Windows Mobile 6 and only 64MB of RAM.  To be fair, iNav’s web site claims that the MINIMUM requirement is 64MB and it recommends 128MB.  It’s possible that my phone isn’t the best test platform simply for that RAM restriction.  However, considering how snappy the iGO interface is on this same phone, I would have expected better from iGuidance, especially considering their interface isn’t as graphic intensive as iGO’s.

Overall, I would give iGuidance a 3 out of 5, but without the excellent TTS, it would have been a 2 out of 5.  I’m going back to iGO until I find something better.

I just upgraded my iGO installation from 2006 to the new 8.0 version, so I’m going to review that later.  First impression is pretty good…

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