MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2010 (#44)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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very long to get to know the software well enough to set up my first route. As a whole, the interface was well designed; a touch on the map gives you access to all the menu settings, but the list of navigation menu options is fairly long and I found myself wishing I could customize the order of the list. Without the Car Kit, driving with the iPhone was a bit cumbersome. I had the device resting in a dashboard cup holder, a setup that limited the GPS reception and was probably a challenge for the iPhone's compass. The iPhone's built-in speaker did a reasonable job of reproducing the verbal instructions, which, in the initial release version of the software, didn't include street names. It still did an admirable job of getting me where I needed to go. I threw it a few curves by departing from my planned route and it hung in there with me, first steadfastly trying to directing me back to the course it initially planned. It then had the flexibility revise its directions when it found a better way home from where I actually was. But the phone was working incredibly hard. My battery level dropped by several pixels after just under 30 minutes of driving. It also proved that a Subaru cup holder is not an ideal mount for an iPhone. A Noticeable Improvement Coincidentally, my Car Kit and version 1.2 of the application arrived on the same day. They both provided many welcome improvements. TomTom 1.2 added the missing text-to-voice feature, allowing the app read street names aloud, providing added confidence that both TomTom and I were on the same page. It also introduced Advanced Lane Guidance for multilane highway driving that includes verbal instructions when to be in a driving or exit lane as well as some added visual cues at the base of the screen. A new Help menu holds a list of emergency services for quick access to directions as well as phone numbers. The real game-changer was the Car Kit. With it, you can easily attach your phone to the windshield or with a plate that provides a suction cup-friendly attach point on your dashboard. The mount also includes a Dock connector that gets power to the phone (Car Kit to iPhone communication is handled via Bluetooth), a mini-USB jack for the included cigarette lighter charger, a stereo mini-plug to connect to your car stereo (this only works for iTunes and not driving directions or phone calls) and an integrated 3-inch speaker/microphone for navigation instructions and hands-free calling. The speaker/mic also works with the iPhone's Voice Command feature for dialing and iTunes control (and whatever else Apple may have planned in the future). The Car Kit has its own more sensitive and better- positioned GPS receiver as well as a volume control. The built-in speaker provided sound that was crisp and clear. The microphone function worked well enough for Voice Control, but got mixed reviews with phone calls. However, in a quiet car on a smooth road, the results should be more than acceptable. The external GPS receiver with a wider view of the heavens provided a significant improvement in navigation responsiveness and accuracy. TomTom has also placed a free app in the App Store to monitor the status of the Car Kit. The bottom line is this: Even though you're paying the price of a decent, low-end, standalone GPS, you're getting a pretty darn good navigation system. We can be certain that TomTom will keep the maps up to date and it will be interesting to see how the software matures in future versions. The Car Kit is well-built (I would expect nothing less from TomTom), but the price does seem a bit high. Overall, however, it's a very good value. There are numerous advantages to having your car GPS integrated into a device as smart and talented as an iPhone. And when you get to your destination, it can do a whole lot more than just wait around to take you home. Product TomTom iPhone App for U.S. and Canada Made by TomTom Price $99 Pros A well-designed, mature navigation system; useful feature set; excellent integration with the iPhone Cons Accessing the many options could be easier; unable to paste addresses from the Web System Requirements iPhone 3G or 3GS; 1.29GB available memory Rating ★★★★ Product TomTom Car Kit Made by TomTom Price $119.99 ($99.99 for touch version when available) Pros Turns an iPhone into a "real" GPS; built-in speaker-phone and dedicated GPS receiver; well designed and constructed Cons Rather expensive System Requirements iPhone 3G or 3GS; 1.29GB available memory (requirements and ship date for touch version not available at press time Rating ★★★★ MacDirectory 59 REVIEW

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