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July 27, 2008

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Kevin Corrigan

Hi Jim,

I've just returned from the UK Motor Show where I observed a new partnership deal between Toyota and Tom Tom. Basically the Tom Tom GPS unit clips into the face of the car's stereo system and when you want to, you can remove it and use it as a portable device.

I own a Tom Tom myself and can vouch for how good they are, but I must admit, they look a little unsightly stuck to the windshield. Problem solved, you can now use the same unit in your car, your boat, your motor home, and even whilst walking around town.

This has got to be the way of the future, and who better to team up with than Tom Tom. After all, the voice command choices alone (available on the web) make the Tom Tom unit my favorite (I have John Cleese on mine, but the Ozzie Osbourne one is absolutely hilarious).

I think that this idea will really catch on. At least I hope so!

Nick Bogut

Satellite Navigation?

RUBBISH!

Last year I tried, and tried, and tried in vain to program the system in the rental Opel Vectra to take me from Saltzburg, Austria to my hotel just outside of Munich's airport, Germany (the Kempinski at the airport itself was asking well over 500 Euros for a night; and it wasn't even Octoberfest time, but I digress).

Neither could I punch in "Saltzburg" for where I was, nor could I punch in "Munich" for the destination!!!
I felt like ripping the bloody thing out of the dash...

Then, I remembered that I had brought along a Michelin map of Bavaria.

Revelation!!!

Just like the olden times; a nicely printed, in beautiful colour, large scale PAPER map!

Got to my hotel in record time, despite the collision on the Autobahn just past the Austrian border and the gazillions of Dutch caravans tooling about.

Give me a paper map any day - Michelin preferred while in Europe, and a AAA while in USA or Canada.

Cheers!

Jim Kenzie

Memo to Nick w/r/t SatNav problems in the Opel:

It has been a while since I've used a SatNav in an Opel, but last time I did, I found it OK.

There is, however - how do I put this delicately? - the issue of "when in Rome, do as the Romans", and when in Germany, better spell the city names as the Germans do! "Salzburg" does not have a 't' in it, and the German spelling for Munich is "Munchen" with an umlaut (two little dots) over the 'u'. So the system probably couldn't find the cities you were looking for because they may have been spelled incorrectly!

Most systems offer the option of locating a point on the map display, and either pressing the screen or pushing a button to set that as the destination, rather than having to type the names out. That might have worked better for you because you could actually see on the screen where you were and where you wanted to go.

Most SatNav systems also offer the option of changing the operating language. But because the system would normally be delivered with the "home" language, a visitor might not know that language - in this case, German - well enough to figure out how to switch it. That did happen to me in Italy once.

So, I hope you give SatNav another try. Maybe with a local as navigator to help you, um, navigate it.

Nick Bogut

Hi Jim,

I hear what you're saying about spelling.
I wrote the above reply with the English language in mind, but in haste managed to mis-spell Salzburg.
Yes, the system had the option of inputing data in either German or English (might have even had it in French, Dutch and Italian, but cannot remember any more).
You could not, however, as you suggest locate the point on the map display; one had to input the EXACT street address which I tried over and over and over...in English AND German.
BTW, geography (and cars) are some of my favourite subjects, so the issue of English vs. local language spelling and names of places is not an issue.
I'm even pretty good at European highway numbering system, but once inside a major city I do get lost occasionally.

I dunno, maybe it was me or maybe it was the Opel, but I hated its SatNav and thought it utterly useless.

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