Destinator PN has powered many satnav devices, especially at the budget end of the market, for some time now.
However, when it comes to buying a system for your PDA then most people tend to look towards either TomTom or NavMan to do the job. That could all change with the release of Destinator 6 with a re-designed and much easier to use interface and a new routing engine which can help optimise route planning when wanting to visit multiple destinations during a single trip.
On its own, any satnav software is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, so we put it together with a HP 2490 PDA for the purposes of this test. Because we also wanted to give the TrafficSam functionality a run for its money, we added a GNS 5843 GPS RDS/TMC receiver to the bundle.
However, it was the software and not the hardware that we were interested in, so remember that your results may vary depending upon exactly what combination of the two you use.
The TrafficSam functionality is very well implemented here, and comes with a "no further costs" promise as the purchase costs includes a once-only license fee with no ongoing subscription requirement.
Something to bear in mind when comparing costs of competing products, as quite often this isn’t the case. Likewise, the ability to use traffic information overseas courtesy of this same "purchase once, use anywhere" license should not be ignored if you are a regular cross-border driver.
In reality that means support for systems in France and Germany, as well as TrafficMaster here in the UK. They all work in much the same way, with those blue cameras you see dotted around gathering traffic flow data, aided by transmitter equipped lorry fleets and even sensors built into the street in some cases. This information is fed back to a data centre and onto your device, via an encrypted radio signal.
If you want to get where you need to be on time, then such a system really is the only way to go, or at least to go quickly. Destinator 6 uses both the freely available RDS and premium TMC Pay Service data to provide truly comprehensive coverage of traffic congestion: what it means is that instead of the usual 90 minute TMC updates, Destinator updates every 15 minutes giving much better real world, real time coverage.
The built-in re-routing function comes into its own here as well, and managed to ensure that this reviewer caught his flight from Heathrow despite the traffic jams, and got to the Oktoberfest in Munich with plenty of drinking time to spare.
Avoiding traffic jams is one thing, if the maps and route planning software is pants you’ll still not arrive in good time. Thankfully, Destinator has this covered with its use of Navteq mapping data, the same company that powers most in-car navigation systems in both the US and across Europe as well as web and mobile location based services.
Our review kit came with maps for the whole of Western Europe included, complete with continuous cross-border navigation (which makes for quickest continental route planning on the go), and Destinator Technologies promise that this includes "all of Ireland" although we were unable to put that to the test on the road. What we could put to the test were some of the new features of Destinator 6, such as the trip-planner routing engine that is clearly aimed at the commercial delivery driver, although is just as useful if you want to do a spot of holiday sightseeing or you are the designated driver with the local Rugby team needing returning home after a night out.
It works beautifully by you entering all the routes you need to cover, totally randomly it really doesn’t matter, and then the clever software sorts them into the optimal order for you. Very clever indeed, we liked that a lot.
We also liked the new "map engine" which seemed to deliver on the promise of providing a very fast remapping display in both 2D and 3D modes, although it was the latter we really noticed the difference. Town and street names are now also displayed in order to increase the clarity of the map data shown, and it works too. As does the finger operated input, no need to keep a stack of styli, styluses, sticks or whatever in the glove box.
This easy finger input, not while driving though please, is made all the more pleasant by the lightning fast search algorithm which auto-completes place and street names as you enter them. Of all the satnav systems we have tried, this has to be the simplest and quickest when it comes to entering route details. Oh, and it now supports full 7-digit postcodes as well, all courtesy of a huge on-screen keyboard.
What didn’t we like? Well the voice instructions were exceedingly monotone and monotonous as a result, certainly not up to TomTom or certain in-car satnav standards. There appears to be no easy way to avoid the London Congestion Zone which is a real PITA if you live outside the Capital but need to travel through it regularly. But that really is pretty much all there is to complain about, otherwise Destinator 6 hits all the right buttons, including price especially if you are upgrading from Destinator PN as you can save a further £30 off the retail price.
Although a shrinking market, what with so many dedicated pocket GPS satnav devices now available, if you want to upgrade your PDA to the latest in satnav software then Destinator 6 with TrafficSam deserves your serious consideration.