“Boss, how do I go to Shivaji Chowk?” I ask, to which ‘Boss’ replies “Do one thing, take a left, then a right and you will find Ardha Shivaji Putla (Statue), from where you take second right from the Circle and go straight and ask anyone there”. Then I follow his instructions, but only to take a wrong left and enter some chawl where the road seems to go nowhere. Again, I take a U turn and ask somebody for directions. After a painstaking 1 hour and burning an extra or two liters of fuel, I reach my destination with a sense of accomplishment only to find out that the person whom I want to meet is not at home! Tch..Tch.. I am very bad at remembering roads coz I have visited this person twice earlier, not to mention the time and fuel wasted during those earlier visits! And here I am again doing the rounds.
Well there has to be a solution to help me overcome this weakness of mine. And as if by reply, I read in newspaper, the following day, about a thingie called the GPS Navigator. Enter “MapMyIndia” GPS navigator and I thought to myself this could be my stuff.
I did not want to go for the kill immediately but wanted to understand how this device will help me, this being a new technology available for public. I read the reviews, newspapers and television and found that the device was pretty good at what it does – i.e.: navigate you through the roads, show you Points of Interest like tourist place, nearby ATMs, hospitals, petrol pumps, restaurants among others.
After a long wait, still pensive though on how will it work, I ordered the GPS Navigator, Model Lx130, price of which is bit on the higher side though prices have come down by 25% at the time of this writing.
- No SIM or GPRS required as it is a satellite operated device;
- No monthly or recurring charges, the only charges you pay are for the updates.
- Comes with a 3.5” touchscreen (don’t expect iPhone like operations, though pretty ok)
- Touch the screen and mark your point on the road and choose that as your destination or starting point
- Drag the map display to see other routes
- Currently MapMyIndia offers street level turn-by-turn directions in 620 cities across India (including Kolhapur and Belgaum), over 52 categories of points of interest and over 2 million unique destinations, 5,76,000 towns and villages connected by national and state highways. So wherever you want to go, chances are that your destination is covered.
- No worries for slow data rates, incomplete data, etc
After I received the package, I started unravelling what lay inside.
Then I tested it on the road and here are my views:
- Touchscreen is more like a poke-screen, but pretty responsive. Marking of a point in road takes getting used to though and sometimes you lose patience if you are in a hurry. The virtual keypad for entering the street addresses, places etc. is also cumbersome.
- The navigation is voice guided in UK or US English. So you need not look all the time at the screen for directions and concentrate on your driving. Now Hindi and Gujarati voice has also been included.
- The screen is quite bright and unless you are viewing it in direct sunlight, it is quite easy to read and understand.
- Boot-up and navigation software loading time is fairly fast and rarely does one witness any lag. However, the Satellite Acquisition Time may vary from 3 minutes to about 8 minutes depending upon the GPS signal.
- The battery back-up is pretty low, with usage time ranging up to 3 hours. But as it is a car navigation device, it is supposed to be plugged into the recharge socket for most of its usage time.
- As far as navigation and map accuracy goes, it is accurate most of the time and manages to find shortest route between two places. Even in my locality, it managed to locate small petrol pumps and ATMs with ease and directed me towards them.
- In order to connect it to your computer and access its data (where you can export it to *.kml and view it on Google Earth), you will have to download and install Microsoft Active Sync for Windows or SyncCe / MultiSync for Ubuntu Linux or similar software for your operating system.
- It comes with an inbuilt picture viewer, document viewer (.txt files only) and music and video player. They are pretty easy to use and work decently.
- Sometimes, the routes are not properly mapped. But most of the times were pretty accurate. Maybe an update will help here for me though.
- I was amazed at how detailed the road guidance is. I reached a part of Kolhapur where I thought the GPS cannot guide me here, but I was proved wrong!!
Click here for a demo on how it works
This device has made me smile despite my initial scepticism.
All in all, my final word is that this GPS device is a very nice option to have in your car. It has indeed helped me save a lot. And Truly and Finally, a Navigator that works!!