I received a box last weekend. It was marked Nokia GPS Module LD-1W. While I quickly figured out it was a Bluetooth enabled GPS device I had no idea what it was for or how to use it.
The bafflement came to an end when I was given URL to go and download the Wayfinder GPS Mapping software. This review is more about the software than the GPS device which is smaller than the phone and can be worn or hung and works outdoors.
Wayfinder turns your phone into a GPS unit that is on par with some of the better units in cars. As someone that's never had a GPS unit or the extra dollars to put one in my 15 year old car I was keen to try it out. I downloaded it and transferred the program to the Nokia N70 (a very sweet phone) that recently arrived. Now I had something. Alas in the beginning it presented a map miles from anywhere I am. In the end it took a couple of attempts to locate where I live. I have a sucky coverage at home. Finally the GPRS and the GPS unit connected and worked.
I took a trip to the other side of SF and Ms Wayfinder talked me all the way there. It was easy to follow although after a couple of days I wondered if I could change meters and kilometers to yards and miles just to be consistent with what I'm driving. Thus the overall experience was "WOW" this is very impressive.
So yes WayFinder and the Nokia LD-1W do turn my phone into a very neat GPS unit. Still I have a few niggles. Part of my problems with the unit trace to low quality GPRS when trying to log on and get started. Still if you are going somewhere you sort of have to set it before you start. Keying in destinations is not something you should do while driving. I found that took thee to five minutes partially do to the slow connection. Also if you mistakenly hit the wrong key and the application closed you were forced to start over from the beginning again. Time consuming and frustrating.
The progam also offered up legaise each time it rebooted. I did have the 5 day trial version although I doubt this was the problem. Still in the time I think I generally mastered it. For new destinations it could be very useful. The downside appears to be it takes over your phone. I found no was to make calls (bluetooth headset on) while driiving without losing the program and thus the directions. The N70 has voice activated dialing although I can't say it is very accurate. That appears to be the only way I could make an outbound call. Of course for that time I'm in the call the GPRS connection is down and my directions aren't being updated. Same thing when new calls come in. Thus there are some compromises. The phone seemed to cope with two one hour drives and use all day on a single charge, still the additional car charger is a great idea. I'd recommend using it.
Still despite the fact it is a little compromised I was impressed enough that I thought I'd explore buying it. I'm used to mobile software costing maybe $20 to $40 so when I learned it was going to cost me a minimum of $99 for a 12 month US only license plus buying the Nokia GPS unit I sort of slowed down. Buying the European map package would cost me even more. So I Googled Mobile GPS software and found Wayfinder TomTom Mobile and Route66 Mobile 7. WayFinder was the only one that I found that is ready for the US. I'm not sure if this is a reflection on US adoption of Smart Phones, something to do with our mapping regulations etc.
So I dug a littel deeper into the Wayfinder product. Before you buy read the fine print. This software is not tranferable to another phone. There is no opportunity for a family or "couple" license. I can see the logic for updates etc.Still purchasing for 3 years with updates would be more palatable. I'd also simply question pricing. Perhaps it is just a matter of time before the prices plummet. Sell this application for $30 and the number sold will go up exponentially. I don't really think it will catch on until the combined price is near $99. The exception is for people that spend hours driving for business. Daily use would change my perspecitve about this products utility.
The Lifetime Wayfinder service is ideal for users who know they will keep their phone for a while, have less need for software updates and want software for a one-time fee that is tied to the phone it is initially installed on.
The lifetime service can be used for unlimited time on the mobile phone you initially installed it on. The service does not include software updates and you cannot transfer the service to a new mobile phone. Lifetime has no time limit in years as long as it is used on the same mobile phone.
If your mobile phone gets stolen Wayfinder will freeze your Navigator account and allow a transfer to a new mobile phone, with the same original terms and conditions. Wayfinder require a document from your police authority regarding the incident.
If your mobile phone malfunction within one year from purchase and it has to be replaced Wayfinder will allow a transfer of your Navigator account to a new mobile phone, with the same original terms and conditions. Wayfinder require a copy of the receipt from your repair center.
If you lose your mobile phone Wayfinder will not be able to help you with a new account.
So apart from using a loaner phone at the moment which puts me out of the "can buy" category the $250 charge (software and GPS unit) leave this in the "you gotta have money to burn" category. Still all the programs I've been testing lately with these phones has taught me I can "hit" my GPRS connection (Unlimted T-Mobile USA) much harder than I traditionally do.
The real secret is you can have a lot of what Wayfinder offers for free. While I was using it I couldn't help thinking it should be updating my networking services where I am and allowing me to see friends or connections on the map. Eg Plazes or Streethive. ! In fact strategically I believe Wayfinder has an enormous problem. If you take a look at the two pictures below you will see my home on Wayfinder and similarly on Google Maps Mobile. In many ways GMM works better than Wayfinder. It doesnt' provide the lively directional "turn left 100 meters banter". Still it provide the route directions a clear way to go through steps and a very clear map. It also provides a satelite view should you want it. So.... it's more likely you will get lost. Still I've been using these types of routing for years and having it easily on my phone is pretty cool. It may be the last time I print directions off my PC before leaving.
Home on Wayfinder
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