HP has teamed up with ViaMichelin, the navigation software maker, to offer its PDA, the HP iPAQ rx1950 Navigator, a mapping solution out of the box. Pocket-lint spoke with Stuart Derricott, Country Manager, P-Nav products, UK and Ireland, from ViaMichelin to find out more about the partnership and what the company is doing to stop us driving up the wrong street.
To give you a quick backgrounder; in the bundled kit, HP provides the Pocket PC, while ViaMichelin provides the GPS receiver, the software CD-Rom and a preloaded SD card full of maps.
To use the iPAQ as a GPS device, users simple insert the SD card with the ViaMichelin software stored on it and plug it into the GPS cradle and the PDA is ready to go.
At first it seems like an odd choice for ViaMichelin to team up with HP for hardware because it sells its own GPS device. However, Derricott says that the two devices are aimed at slightly different markets. "The people who are going for the PDA [from HP] are more likely to be business people, and adding on the GPS function has helped to boost sales. ViaMichelin's device is for people who are looking for a standalone GPS, rather than an electronic organiser."
One of the complaints that GPS users have had in the past is that they've been guided onto poor roads or tracks rather than navigable roads. The national press in the UK seems keen to exploit the fact that some drivers are being lead down rocky ravines, through rivers and sometimes towns called Crackpot.
ViaMichelin uses mapping by Teleatlas, which is also used by other market-leading GPS devices.
"It's not the maps [that lead people astray], it's how the software interpret the maps, so we've developed it so that it sticks to known roads," says Derricott. Users of some GPS systems have apparently been led to river rather than a ford, while a man in Wales has to pull people out of a muddy field at the end of a dirt track several times a week.
"All road types are named, so you can guide the software not to use those roads," says Derricott. "Sometimes it's better to use longer roads rather than end up in a river. It's not just a problem in the UK, though, it happens in other European countries as well."
The software has been improved for use on the iPAQ. "We've improved the Points of Interest (POI), for example, including petrol stations that you can search by brand to only highlight certain company's stations, as well as bundling guide information from the Michelin Green Guide," says Derricott.
He continues, "You can also do more with saved addresses, by categorising them under Points of Interest. And another new features is the POI manager, which lets you download POIs from other sources and use them on the device."
The POI's are a big selling point for ViaMichelin, which is obviously able to incorporate information from its Green Guides and Michelin-starred restaurants into the software. It sells POI add-ons on its website, but many people are offering them as freeware.
However, Derricott says that the POIs from ViaMichelin offer different content. "A lot of the ones that people themselves do seem to be for more specific interests rather than touristy things. One guy has a file that pinpoints all the stations with steam trains in them, while another has located all the Argos stores. It's not the sort of thing we do, but if people want to do that, that's fine."
The HP iPAQ rx1950 Navigator is available for