ALK CoPilot Live 6 Pocket PC review

Price when reviewed

The latest version of ALK’s GPS navigation software adds yet more features to an already packed application. Available for Pocket PC, smartphone and the Symbian-based Nokia N70, there are various bundles ranging from software-only kits to those with a Bluetooth GPS receiver and a 1GB SD card.

ALK CoPilot Live 6 Pocket PC review

On review here is the Pocket PC Bluetooth bundle, but the smartphone version is the same price and virtually identical. In the box, you get a SiRF II Bluetooth receiver, a car charger, a vent mount for the receiver and a 256MB mini-SD card in an SD card adaptor. The CD includes maps and an activation key for the UK and Ireland, but you can unlock the European maps for £100. Maps are the latest from Navteq, so are up to date.

The main guidance screen has been enhanced from version 5 with the introduction of mile markers on your route, helping you to see even more clearly when the next turn is. At the top, large turn arrows show the direction and type of the next turn, while the name of the road and the number of yards remaining are also large and easy to read at a glance. A menu button remains onscreen at all times, providing an obvious link to the options. Menus have been redesigned to be much more finger-friendly, reducing the need for a stylus.

The trip menu allows you to check and edit your itinerary, add up to 50 stops, find points of interest (POIs), save locations and change the routing settings. We like that you can choose to customise the display to show ETA, current time, current road, nearest town, nearest major road or destination.

We were also pleased to find it’s now easier to import your own Custom POIs in the popular OV2 format – it means you can add cashpoint and safety camera locations. A Road Angel safety camera database is available for £5 per month and provides enhanced warnings, which show your speed against the local limit.

As you’d expect, there are planning and guidance modes too – the latter supports cars, RVs and walking. You can tell CoPilot types of roads to avoid, including toll roads and London’s congestion-charge zone.

However, CoPilot’s real strengths lie in its live capabilities. Like TomTom, CoPilot can warn you of traffic incidents and reroute you around them. It requires a GPRS connection, and the cost depends on your provider. Although there are no weather updates, CoPilot offers fleet tracking and a messaging service – useful for delivery or taxi firms. Thanks to the text-to-speech engine, incoming messages can be read out as well as displayed on screen.

Text to speech isn’t available on the smartphone version, but for Pocket PC owners it means CoPilot can tell you the name of the road to turn onto. Some names aren’t pronounced clearly, so it takes a bit of getting used to, but if you do miss a turn, CoPilot needs only a couple of seconds to find a new route. Our only gripe is that the onscreen keyboard is alphabetical, not QWERTY, and numbers are on a separate screen – Pocket PC’s built-in keyboard should have been used.

With full seven-digit postcode searching, support for square-aspect screens, VGA screens and Windows Mobile 5, CoPilot Live 6 leaves virtually no tick-box unchecked. A great alternative to TomTom Navigator 5.

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