Product Review (March 2007) - TravRoute
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.

Installation
The CoPilot Live package we reviewed included the GPS pod with an attached USB cable, one DVD, and instructions. The installation was simple and having both the application and mapping data on a single disc (earlier versions required two CDs) was an advantage. Once the GPS pod was connected to our Sony Vaio laptop (Model K23), Windows® immediately recognized the attached device and the appropriate drivers were setup. Once launched, the CoPilot application will let the user know if the GPS receiver is not attached to the computer. A status indicator in the upper right corner of the screen will let the user know if the computer is receiving a good signal. Red bars indicate a weak signal while green bars indicate a strong signal. When first started, it may take a few minutes before the GPS satellites are acquired. To help accelerate the acquisition time, the user can input the current city and state.

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 (12’6” 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. CoPilot’s Live messaging and real-time tracking capabilities can be accessed from within Planning Mode.

Planning Mode
Unlike most of the other GPS systems we have used, the CoPilot has a Planning Mode that allows the user to plan a trip before starting the journey. Trips can be saved and recalled at a later time. The cool part is the software allows the user to search for points of interest, calculate fuel costs, add favorite places, add custom places, and a whole lot more. Trip planning just got a lot more sophisticated using the CoPilot software. The mapping software is very easy to use and allows the user to quickly zoom in and out and drag to any area on the screen.

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).

Signal Status
The GPS Status window displays the signal strength of each of the satellites being tracked with the 12-channel receiver. The GPS pod communicates to the laptop using one of the USB ports that get mapped to a COM port. Both the COM port and baud rate can be configured manually or set to auto. There is also an option to log the GPS messages being received for future reference. The GPS data window displays additional information such as latitude, longitude and altitude. Based on the position samples being taken, a speed and heading will also be displayed as well as the UTC/GMT time and date.

Conclusion
The new CoPilot Live | Laptop 10 GPS Navigation System is a powerful GPS package that offers significant benefits for the serious traveler with a laptop. For those who have room for a laptop while they travel, CoPilot offers a whole lot more than traditional portable GPS systems we have seen. The software is powerful and provides a lot of flexibility for the user. The maps are easy to use and offer excellent resolution when compared to most of the portable GPS systems we've seen.
Free software patches can be downloaded from the TravRoute website. Alk is still so confident that you will love their product that they offer a refund within 30 days of the price paid (excludes shipping and handling) with any CoPilot product. (See Alk's return policy for details). If you need a full-featured GPS system without the limitations of the portable units, we highly recommend you take a look at the latest CoPilot 10. It is an amazing product for the price.

- Kevin Nakano





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Review - At a Glance


TravRoute - CoPilot Live | Laptop 10 GPS Navigation System


Advanced Features:

  • NEW! The most comprehensive street level Maps of U.S. & Canada
  • NEW! Over 6 Million POI’s including phone numbers from InfoUSA
  • NEW! Toll Road Alert- CoPilot lets you know if and where you have to pay a toll
  • NEW! Increased Speech Volume- CoPilot will increase the speech volume with the progressive speed of your vehicle
  • NEW! Philips 2.0 USB GPS receiver support
  • NEW! RV Routing now with 12’6” & 13’ height restriction options and overall routing has been refined based on user feedback
  • NEW! Real-Time Traffic enabled Nationwide
  • IMPROVED! Highway-Level Information of Mexico

Core Features:

  • Dynamic Route Guidance: Provides voice guided, turn-by-turn directions to any address.
  • Automatic Route Recalculation: Directions are updated every second. If you miss a turn, you get new directions instantly.
  • Two-Way Voice Technology: Gives detailed spoken instructions and responds to your voice commands.
  • Basic Routing Options: Lets you easily select between Quickest, Shortest, RV as well as offering a Toll Avoidance option.
  • Detour and Avoid Roads: Gets you around unexpected traffic or street congestion and lets you avoid roads.

Guidance Features:

  • Seamless coast-to-coast routing across U.S and Canada
  • Step-by-Step Address Entry with Type-Ahead makes entering your destination easy.
  • POI Alerts notify you when you're approaching your pre-selected POI’s options
  • Routing Options have been expanded to include Auto Quickest, Auto Shortest, RV Quickest, RV Shortest, RV 12’6”, RV13’ and Toll Avoidance.
  • Route Optimization re-orders your stops in the most efficient manner.
  • Driver Safety Screen toggles between an all-text display and a full-map view.
  • Customizable Display Get important information fast, including driving speed, Elevation, altitude, travel direction, and more
  • Waypoints let you tailor your route preferences and allow you to pass through a particular area on the way to your final destination.
  • Pick Stops from the map - tap and hold a road to add an address as a stop.
  • Lane Change Warnings alert you to upcoming left exits, ensuring that you have plenty of time to safely get to the proper side of the highway.
  • Side of Street Notification tells you which side of the street your destination is on, making it easier to locate the right building when you arrive.
  • Enable Propane Restrictions to completely avoid tunnels that prohibit propane tanks.
  • 3D Map Display with Mileage Markers, Moving Maps, and turn arrows that highlight the way ahead.
  • Auto-Zoom 2D Map View options include current location to Next Turn or Destination. When selected, CoPilot progressively zooms in on the map as you approach either your Next Turn or Destination.
  • Night Mode reduces glare and eye strain to improve night time safety.
  • Large Map Display combines a large map view with concise text directions.
  • Route-Over Highlighting clearly defines the route ahead.
  • Scenic Routing guides your route toward one of 518 scenic byways that make up over 42,000 miles of scenic roads throughout the U.S.
  • Change Voices on the fly between the included male and female or select from any additional voice sets you have created/downloaded.

Planning Features:

  • Planning Mode gives you the ability to pre-plan, customize and optimize routes before driving.
  • POI Import allows you to import and manage custom Points-of-Interest. Build your own POI database from personal contacts, popular destinations, or third-party lists in all popular formats including OV2.
  • Fuel Cost Wizard lets you calculate your gas expenditure when planning trips.
  • Change Voices on the fly between the included male and female or select from any additional voice sets you have created/downloaded.
  • Customizable Routing Profiles give you complete control over what kind of roads CoPilot prefers (highways, local roads, etc.).
  • Ability to create and share your own voice or download new voice sets as they become available.

Live Features:

  • Real-Time Traffic enabled nationwide to help you avoid congestion or delays
  • Live Communications allow you to email tracking invites to friends and colleagues.
  • Text Messages sent from home or office to the vehicle includes large, customizable, one-touch responses to ensure driver safety.
  • Real-Time Tracking of your travels by friends, family and loved ones over a secure Internet connection (live.alk.com)
  • Itinerary Updates including new stops and revised destinations, allow you to coordinate changes to your plans without having to pull over and enter new information.

Includes:

  • CoPilot Live | Laptop 10 software
    • 1 Install & Map DVD
  • Streel-level maps for the U.S. & Canada
  • Highway-level maps for Mexico & Puerto Rico
  • WAAS-enabled CoPilot USB GPS receiver with the SiRFstarIII chipset
  • Printed Quick Start Guide

Desktop/Laptop Requirements:

  • Windows 2000, ME, XP
  • 400 MHz processor or better
  • 128 MB RAM
  • DVD ROM
  • 1 GB available hard disc space
  • USB port for connecting GPS receiver

Speakers and sound card required for voice technology
Microphone required for voice recognition
UMPC (Ultra Mobile PCs) require 800x600 resolution


Source: Manufacture supplied
MSRP: $249
Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

CoPilot Live | Laptop 10 User's Manual

Company Information
TravRoute
1000 Herrontown Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Web Orders: 800-656-5426
URL: www.travroute.com

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