CoPilot Live 8 review
With their large displays, built-in GPS receivers and processing power aplenty, modern smartphones make an ideal platform for running satellite navigation software – and the fact that they’re downloadable means they make a great last-minute gift.
It’s arguably on Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone where satnav software is most at home, thanks to its brilliantly clear screen and a finger-friendly touch interface. ALK has been offering its CoPilot navigation software across a number of PC, PDA and mobile phone platforms for several years now, but the iPhone version raises the stakes and offers a system that’s easy to use while also being highly configurable.
The user interface is icon-based and very intuitive. Whenever we wanted to do something, the desired option was easy to find and required just one or two finger taps. Most importantly for a navigation product, the routes on offer were good, the mapping was accurate, and the navigation directions, both onscreen and spoken, were clear and easy to understand.
The CoPilot onscreen display is comprehensive, with diagrammatic details of the next two upcoming junctions (rather than the usual one), which we found a great help when driving on unfamiliar routes. In addition, as with the other iPhone applications, CoPilot worked happily with the iPhone in either landscape or portrait mode.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few niggles, however: the version of CoPilot we tested used an ABC layout keyboard, although ALK has promised an update that will provide support for the normal iPhone Qwerty keyboard by the time you read this. We also found that the application crashed (although just once) during our two months of testing.
However, it’s easy to forgive a couple of minor glitches such as this with an application this good. It matches most of the features offered by TomTom (with the notable exception of IQ Routes), but has a few aces up its sleeves with useful facilities such as showing the cheapest nearby fuel prices, and a LiveLink facility that plots the location of friends on the map, which could be useful for journeys with several cars travelling in convoy.
And, to top it all off, CoPilot Live 8 costs only £26 including VAT, with no ongoing usage fees. When it came to picking a winner from this group of products, the choice was clear – CoPilot Live more than matches the other products in terms of features, but at half the price. It’s a great Christmas gift, and a cost-effective one, too.
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