Click here to see the full picture illistrated review on memory-map Pocket navigator software
Memory-Map’s Moving map software
This review covers the moving map software from Memory-Map and its two variations sold by Maptech and Navman. This software runs on a PocketPC under Pocket Windows 2002 or Windows Mobile 2003. In addition, there is a desktop version that runs on all versions of the OS from Windows 98 to the present XP version.
I will reference primarily the Maptech software and exclusively their nautical charts. To confuse things a bit, I used a patch for my Toshiba PDA that blurs the line between Maptech’s PocketNavigator (PN) and Memory-Map Navigator (MMN). My initial install of PN was version 2.5.7, but I used a Maptech patch that brings it to 3.1.3. When I make reference to native Memory-Map software, I’m talking about the version from Memory Map, not Maptech or Navman. This review will concentrate mostly on the PocketPC version, but the desktop/laptop version allows one to do the same things and is really nice for pre and post trips. My experience with this software spans a few years with use on a Casio E115 and Toshiba e750, initially with an external Magellan GPS and now with a Holux CF.
This software is useful for any off-road use like; marine and aero navigation, hiking, and the sport of geocaching. To get full benefit of this software you will also need a GPS to connect to your PocketPC (PPC).
1.1 Product Overviews
Memory Map: (http://www.memory-map.com) is the US company and developer behind all three products and therefore they are all very much the same. The Memory Map product will support a wide variety of map types and even allow you to scan and create your own maps. These programs use raster-based maps, not vector based like the road navigation programs. This means that there is no “snap to” a road or any point on the map. Your position is displayed without any software finagling. It also means you get a map/chart with much more detail (showing buildings, elevations, railroads, nav. aids, etc.)
One of the neat things about this software is that you get a version that runs on the desktop/laptop that nearly matches the version that runs on your PocketPC. The Memory Map product has one feature not found in any of it derivatives, printing capabilities.
Maptech's Pocket Navigator: (http://www.Maptech.com/products/pocketnavigator/index.cfm) is a slightly restricted and customized version of Memory Map. Maptech is Memory Map’s US partner. Maptech has probably the best topographical maps for the US, as well as marine, aero and skyview. The customization is in the area of the product name, company name and logo and web site pointers. The Maptech version doesn't allow all the various map types and doesn't contain the enhanced overlay manager on the PocketPC, allowing you to list marks, routes, etc, in tabular form (which is a nice feature but you can live without it). And of course, no printing capability. Pocket Navigator supports the Navman iPAQ GPS/sleeve too.
SmartExplorer™: (http://www.Navman-mobile.com/html/3000.htm) Navman is Memory Map’s European partner . This variant of the software is very much like the native Memory Map and allows the use of various map types. But the SmartExplorer software only runs on Navman hardware and is sold as a package. Navman consist of a sleeve for an iPAQ, which contains a GPS and the customized Memory Map software.
2 Summary Conclusion
So what did we think? We’ll tell you right up front. If this sounds good to you, then read the rest and get all the details why we came to this conculsion.
This software is full featured with all controls well thought out. This software is well seasoned and behaves flawlessly. In addition I found the following:
Ø Blazingly responsive, very fast screen redraws
Ø Easy to use and understand
Ø Chock full of features and various ways to present information
Ø Will run with less than 2 MB of program memory, but 4mb is recommended and more is better
Ø Supports a vast number of map and chart types with various formats
Ø Maximizes and utilizes the PPC screen very well
Ø Flexible and customizable
Ø Supports a gazillion waypoints, marks, tracks and routes (no real limit except your memory)
Ø Excellent data exchange between desktop, PDA and GPS
Ø No major short comings and few, if any, minor ones
Ø Reasonably priced, but maps and charts are extra cost (can easily double, triple your cost)
3 Product Comparison
The following table shows all the variants of Memory-Map and what features are available in each. The blue column is the native MMN, where as the green is Navman’s version and the yellow Maptech’s version.
In each case you get two pieces of software, a desktop/laptop version and a PPC version. The features between the desktop and PPC work pretty much the same, so once you learn one, you know the other.
3.1 Comparison Table
4 Getting Started, Installation
Depending on how you purchased the software, you might have a CD or a file to downloaded. The file download is only about 3 mb so that is within the realm of any broadband connection. You will also need maps and charts which are not reasonable to download.
In the US you are most likely to buy one of the Maptech packages. If you were to just buy a TopoMap or a Navigation Chart from Maptech you would get a chart viewer program for your desktop. This is not the software we are reviewing. In addition with your Maptech purchase you will need to buy Pocket Navigator. With Pocket Navigator you will get a desktop version and a PocketPC version. First the desktop program must be installed. When you use the Maptech CD labeled Pocket Navigator, what gets installed is Memory-Map Navigator with its icon…
You need to register the program. You will need both a Product ID, and a Product Key. Note the license information is not interchangeable between the variants (Maptech, Memory Map and Navman). You should also check Maptech’s , Memory-Map’s, or Navman’s web pages to make sure you have the latest version.
Note: Toshiba 7xx owners will need a patch to run the latest version correctly. Contact your vendor for this patch. The patch for each version isn’t exactly the same. Without it you will experience problems wiht the course projection and track lines.
Once you have registered you should then transfer the program to your PocketPC. Just setup the normal Active Sync connection and use the PDA menu and select Install Pocket Navigator. You will get the usual install screens on your PocketPC. Make sure you get a notice that the license was transferred. Otherwise you will not be able to use a GPS with the program.
So, the installation is typical and pretty much a breeze. Initially when I installed it, I ran into one problem getting my license online. A quick call to Maptech fixed that instantly. You will also find e-mails to Memory Map get answered very quickly too.
4.1 Desktop Menus
The desktop Memory-Map application menu is shown below as a composite pull-down. The items highlighted in yellow are only available with the native Memory-Map software.
Note: Maptech and Navman do Not offer GPS, printing, or the ability to create your own maps using the desktop/laptop software. For these features you’ll need the full-blown native Memory-Map software. Memory-Map provides an upgrade for those Maptech and Navman users needing these features
4.2 Maps/charts, Types and Sources
Memory Map supports a wide variety of map and chart types:
Ø Maptech marine, topographical, aero and photoview types in BSB, PCX and RML format.
Ø Also marine and aviation charts from Imap at http://marineplanner.com/ in Softchart format.
Ø Canadian Charts from NDI at http://www.digitalocean.ca/
Ø European topos from Memory-Map at http://www.memory-map.co.uk/maps_uk_onland.htm and http://www.memory-map.co.uk/acatalog/maps_europe.html
Ø Your own scanned map images in PNG or TIFF format
Note: In the following screen-shots; the Marine, Topo, NavPhotos and Photo Views are of the same area; the Aeros are of the Statue of Liberty/Ells Island
Also note that you can place marks, waypoints and routes on the Marine, Topo, NavPhotos and Aero charts. The Photoview is only a picture and does not allow the use of these features.
And “what you see is what you get”! The application accurately displays the maps and does not change the maps in any way. The maps are usually high-resolution scans of paper maps and charts with the same features, color, and size. Since these have much bigger files sizes (sometimes 10 mb) than vector (road navigation maps) make sure you install the maps on a storage card.
4.2.1 Installing Maps/Charts
Once you have the program installed and registered you then need to install your maps and charts. This is a fairly easy but time consuming process, assuming you have lots of maps. Once the initial install of the maps is performed you will then be able to access the charts/maps much more quickly.
From the Desktop application select the Chart menu, which will open the Chart List window.
Initially the list will be blank so you need to press the Refresh Chart List button to get to a window to input the source of your map files. Once the files are loaded and on the Chart List you can then sort them by any column or search by a map name or partial name.
After you install the charts and maps, you can send them to your PockePC if you have an Active Sync connection, or copy them directly (using File Explorer) to your storage card by a card reader. You cannot copy them directly from CD to the storage card without first going through the install process.
5 PocketPC program
Once you have got the desktop software running and maps installed on your desktop you will need to setup some parameters on your PocketPC .
5.1 PDA Menu
The simple menu line provides access to the key features. The GPS status icon, when active, indicates your GPS is not connected. Pressing this icon will give you GPS status. The “Lock” icon becomes fogged when you do not have an active GPS. So there are 2 indicators that tell you the GPS has lost lock. Once your GPS is actively connected the “i” icon becomes fogged and the “lock” icon become unfogged.
5.2 Viewing available maps and charts
Very much like the desktop chart list, the PocketPC program has a chart list too. You access the chart list by selecting Menu, Chart…
You can do a search and/or sort just like with the desktop Chart List.
The charts on this list are charts that you transferred from your desktop after installing the chart first to your desktop.
Selecting Menu, GPS, Settings will display the following screens. Once on the Setting screen just select each drop-down menu and pick your parameter. Things couldn’t be easier. Most of the manufacturers for stand-alone devices are displayed. If your device isn’t displayed, just select NEMA. It will most likely work fine. But if you plan on downloading waypoints, tracks and routes from your GPS to the PocketPC, then you will need to have the correct device selected. Continue with the setup and pick your Com port and the baud rate of your device. About the only “wish” here would be for an auto-detect of these settings, but since you set these mostly just once, it is not much of an inconvenience.
Once you pick your units and position display values what’s left is to setup some hardware buttons if you so desire. You may only program buttons 1 – 5. Button 5 is the Record button on a Toshiba. As you can see I picked buttons 2 and 3 to be my zoom in and out keys. In addition the program has the PocketPC’s Scroller/Jog and Navigation/cursor buttons programmed to scroll the map. Pressing the center of the cursor pad or in on the Scroller/jog button causes the map view to toggle between the present and an alternative view. This is one of my favorite features, and as far as I know, is a very unique feature in mapping programs.
6 Operation and features
6.1 Zooming and Scaling
As you can see in some of the screen shots above you have the ability to zoom at 6 different levels using either the zoom icons or hardware buttons if you programmed them. The greatest zoom level magnifies the chart to bigger than original and sometimes is just what you need for your small screen or aging eyes.
Scaling allows one to pick a chart map with a different scale factor (if available). Some charts/maps have a scale of 1 to 10,000, providing good details while others maybe 1 to 80,000 and good for overviews and long trips. The program allows you to select from the available maps by a simple point and hold on the presently displayed map. And when changing maps you will be notified if the map datum changes (such as depths and measurements in feet to fathoms or meters).
If you have loaded maps/charts that are adjacent to one and other, there is no user interaction required as you cross boundaries. The next charts will automatically be invoked. Scaling is used when you have more than one map for a given area.