CoPilot Live | Laptop 10 GPS Navigation System
GPS is now a household name and consumers recognize the advantages of having this capability whether it be in a car, boat or hiking. The technology has been around for quite a long time, yet recent advancements in data processing really make today's GPS systems much more powerful and easy to use. Early models offered few features and the screen size, battery life and capabilities were somewhat limited, especially in portable units. I bought my first handheld GPS over 13 years ago and at the time friends and family laughed at me, but soon they too saw the light and realized the advantages of such a system. Modern GPS receivers are powerful and faster than ever. However, no GPS receiver is complete without the aid of intelligent mapping software. This seems to be where most GPS units have made big advancements and this is where Alk Technologies' new CoPilot Live | Laptop 10 system really shines.
CoPilot allows users to select routing based on the vehicle type (RV or automobile). If you choose RV routing, small and narrow roads, tight turns, and U-turns will all be minimized to provide you with the safest and easiest route to drive your RV or other larger vehicle. There is also a choice for helping with height restrictions (126 and new 13 height clearance options), but CoPilot does not guarantee this accuracy, especially for bridge heights on smaller, local roads. Users can also select an option to avoid Toll Roads and Propane Restricted Tunnels.
We reviewed Alk Technologies's CoPilot 2003 several years ago and we were quite impressed with the capabilities of the system. They have recently released CoPilot Live | Laptop (Version 10), which leverages on the earlier product and includes may new and improved features. The advantage of CoPilot is that the software resides on a laptop for more functionality, easy upgrades and a much larger screen size. Proof that technology moves ahead is evident with the GPS receiver. The new model is significantly smaller and more ergonomic than the earlier designs. The strong magnet built into the base of the GPS pod firmly attaches itself to the metal body of the car. We placed our receiver on the dash and it still pulled in a strong signal. The 5-foot cable provided adequate length to our laptop.
CoPilot offers a lot of flexibility with standard in-vehicle navigation (Guidance Mode), trip planning (Planning Mode), and Live messaging/real-time tracking. Even without the GPS pod attached, the user can use the Planning Mode to plan out a trip. If CoPilot detects the GPS pod, it will automatically go to the Guidance Mode. CoPilots Live messaging and real-time tracking capabilities can be accessed from within Planning Mode.
There are four different Map Views. As an alternative to the top-down 2-D view, users can select the 3-D view that adds a bit more depth and realism to the map during a road trip. For some, this may be the preferred way to view the road, while for others like myself, the conventional top-down 2-D view is preferred. Other Map Views include Where am I, which displays the operator's location on the map and Destination, which displays the final destination. The Heading Up will track your position on the map moving upward as you drive, whereas the North Up setting will always maintain North at the top of the screen. The user can also choose the Day or Night option, with the latter reducing glare during night usage. An automatic mode is also available that switches between Day and Night automatically based on the GPS time.
The bottom of the display has three customizable lines that allows the user to select the information to be displayed as they drive. Choices are the same for each line and include the current road, nearest crossroad, nearest major road, nearest town, ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), or speed. Only line 3 appears when the map is hidden in the Driver Safety view. The bottom right has icons that allow the user to toggle on or off listening (microphone), speech (speaker), or POIs (Points of Interest).
- Kevin Nakano
|Review - At a Glance|
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