Business Today

Finally, a navigator that works!

MapMyIndia’s new Personal Navigation Device (PND) is the first of its kind in India.

Kushan Mitra | Print Edition: August 9, 2009

I treat navigation devices with a level of disdain. After all, the “Odd News”sections are full of stories about Americans and Europeans blindly following their Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation units down hillsides, onto railway tracks and into blind alleys. So, when MapMyIndia insisted that I live with their new “Light” navigation system, I was a bit hesitant.

It is not as if I don’t use maps. Most modern mobile devices have a GPS module and I use either the in-built maps (in some Nokia devices) or Google’s alternative (on any device). However, navigation options are few and far between and none is a patch on MapMyIndia’s 400-city database. I used the navigation system in and around New Delhi with success and entered some obscure routes to find out how the system managed.

I ended up figuring out routes in Bhubaneshwar and Visakhapatnam as well. Keep in mind, this is a PND rather than a purely “in-car” navigation device. This means that you can carry the unit around if you are walking or in an auto. So, as a navigation unit it is not bad at all. Of course, the device does have its niggles. The first is the “soft” keyboard’s spacebar when you are entering an address. The spacebar is the same size as the keys to the letters, which is ridiculous.

The second flaw is more devicespecific. Mobile phones equipped with GPS use something called Assisted-GPS (A-GPS). This involves the mobile phone figuring out where it is, from tower data, transmitting its approximate location back to the server. This “Time to First Fix” on a mobile device is fast even when you unpack it from the box—under 20 seconds. The new PND, however, takes a while and even on a clear day you might wait for over two minutes for a proper fix.

Once you have these figured out though, the device works beautifully. With a Rs 11,990 all inclusive pricetag, with no additional licence issues, it is good value for people who need help finding their way around.

And you have choice
SatGuide’s Moov 300 came to us as we were going to the press. The software, though not as comprehensive as MapMyIndia’s device, with just 200+ cities, has more “Points of Interest” loaded, which makes hunting down petrol pumps and ATMs easier. The user interface seems more crowded at first and entering data on an “ABCD” style keyboard is awkward for someone used to “QWERTY”. The points of interests really help, if someone tells you that their house is near “XYZ” cinema hall. Still, at Rs 16,990, it’s a lot pricier than the competition.

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