- Easy to find routing destinations
- fast route calculation
- loud and clear spoken instructions
- Only currently compatible with Sony Ericsson P910
- not as usable as some other navigation solutions
Route 66 has a lower profile in the UK than many other navigation software vendors, due in part to the company’s rather American-sounding name, but also to a dearth of marketing activity. When we looked at the 2005 version of Route 66’s software for Symbian we found it to be competent. Now we are trying the 2006 version for UIQ (one of the interfaces that runs on top of the Symbian OS). We evaluated the Great Britain edition, but if you're prepared to spend €399 (~£269) you can have the same software with maps for a number of European countries.
Design & features
Route 66 Mobile Britain 2006 for UIQ does not work with every UIQ handset available in the UK. It requires a free Memory Stick Duo slot, Symbian OS 7.0 or higher and UIQ version 2.0 or higher. In fact, the only compatible handset available in the UK at the moment is Sony Ericsson’s P910. The navigation software and map data comes on a 256MB Memory Stick Duo; pop this into the handset’s slot and it will automatically start the installation process. This involves entering a code provided with the software, and an automatic exchange of SMS messages. Our card had 66MB of unused space, which you can use as you see fit. The kit includes a small-format Bluetooth GPS receiver from RoyalTek that we have seen before. It was no problem to pair this with our Sony Ericsson P910i handset, and it worked reliably. In the box there's also a CD with a user manual and a complete copy of the software and maps for reinstallation to a Memory Stick Duo if necessary. You also get a car mount with very solid quick-release grip for the P910i and a car power charger for the GPS receiver. Finally, there's a lanyard for carrying the GPS receiver around your neck if you are so inclined.
When you're travelling, the on-screen the display is dominated by a map of your current location with direction of travel clearly marked. You can choose between a 2D and 3D map, and can opt for night or day colours. In this view a strip along the bottom of the screen shows information such as the direction of and distance to the next turn, the remaining journey distance, estimated time of arrival, and the current street name. Various points on this strip can be tapped to get more detailed information like current altitude, latitude and longitude. When this data is on-screen another tap drops you right back into the map-based navigation view. Another handy quick-access feature is the ability to tap a bar at the top of the screen to quickly change the map's scale. A library of Points of Interest (PoIs) is included, and its contents can be searched for matches including those within a radius of your destination or a radius of your current position. When you’ve found what you want it's easy to add it as a destination. If phone numbers are given for PoIs you can place voice calls to them. Postcode navigation runs to four digits. Search on these and the software offers what it knows within this postcode. If what you want is listed, you can navigate to that location immediately. The alternative is to use the handset’s contacts database, or enter a street name and scroll through to get to the one you want. Unlike some other programs, this version of Route 66 Mobile Britain won’t pinpoint the exact house or office number you are looking for. The software offers a Dial option that allows you to place voice calls to a range of locations, including saved destinations, contacts, favourite places, and, as already noted, PoIs with a phone number. Road traffic information can be imported into maps using your GPRS connection but you'll need to manually update this as necessary. You can plan routes without the GPS receiver connected, and you can view a text-based turn-by-turn route description or get a map-based preview with spoken instructions. The latter were both clear and, on the P910i, loud. Route 66 Mobile Britain 2006 for UIQ is a competent navigation solution. There are some clever ways of accessing detailed information, but the interface could also be improved in places. This program is only supported by the latest UIQ handset from Sony Ericsson, but if you happen to own a P910 it's well worth considering.