“ Software package route planner with internet link „
I only live in a small country that's maybe 100 miles wide (at it's widest point) and the same from top to bottom. Why do I need a route planner? Microsoft AutoRoute 2001 GB claims that with this, you can "own the road wherever you go" and "Now includes Europe!" Well, remind me to have a word with Bill Gates because despite the incredibly detailed street map of London on the front cover, some users are going to be well annoyed. Admittedly, this is the 2001 version, and is a few years old (recently given to me by a friend) and for people who live in Great Britain (that's Scotland, England and Wales, geography fans!) then this is an excellent route finding program. For those of us lucky enough to live on the Emerald Isle (North or South) then we have to suffer, as usual. (More about this later). When you first install and load AutoRoute 2001 GB, you are presented with three main views. The main view is a large map of the United Kingdom and Ireland, the secondary view is an overview map of Europe, and the third part is a pane on the left which mentions things like: Populated places, Transportation and Boundaries amongst other things. These, when expanded, provide legends for the maps that are on offer. The overview map has a blue rectangle on it, which currently shows where in Europe is being displayed on the main screen, and can be moved around to show other areas of Europe, which will result in the main view being updated. When using the main window, you can select areas of the map, and zoom in or out to provide more or less detail as your needs require. In some cities, this provides a very helpful, and detailed street map of the major cities e.g. London, Paris, Rome, Hamburg etc. But, some cities are strangely left out - the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid, for example, as well as Belfast and Dublin, plus others that would take too long to list. You can change the t
ype of map viewed in the main window with the use of the "format" tools, and change the map from street/road map to a physical or even political map. I found this surprising - I would have expected Microsoft, when releasing a product for the UK and Ireland market, to at least ensure that it covered the correct areas with sufficient detail. When I went online to find some support options for AutoRoute, the only place I found that mentioned anything was the Microsoft website itself. However, they only seemed interested in their current version, because the 2001 version, and earlier are not listed anywhere. I thought at the very least they would have offered upgraded or updated maps for places not covered in the initial release. This is especially strange when you consider the other options that Microsoft has included in AutoRoute 2001 GB. * Route Planner Depending on which city you choose to visit, AR2001GB can be capable of giving you a door to door route to and from your destination complete with detailed instructions, approximate times for each part of your journey and a cost estimator. The time and cost calculators can be altered to your preferences by indicating how fast the average speed is on certain road types, and the price of fuel etc. Also included in the detailed street maps are icons for attractions, lodgings, restaurants and the like, and if you zoom in close enough, and double click on them, you'll get information on that particular spot like name, address and phone number details. * Pocket Streets Connect your pocket PC (running Windows CE, naturally) to your main PC (assuming that's where you installed AR2001GB), and you are then able to download maps for use when you go out travelling. I haven't got a Pocket PC, so I can't really describe this feature, although it seems to only be for street maps of cities rather than a detailed route planner. *
GPS Support If you have a GPS receiver (Global Positioning System) and a laptop (I assume), you can attach your GPS to your laptop for en route navigation (hence why I said laptop as opposed to desktop!). Again, quite a good idea, but of limited use if you're in Madrid, Barcelona or any of the other unsupported cities. * Conclusion AR2001GB is a very good tool for route planning, and unlike other route planners I've seen, covers mainland Europe as well in varying levels of detail. The interface is quite easy and intuitive, and even without instructions, you could be up and navigating in no time. However, the lack of detail for Ireland is particularly frustrating (especially being Irish, and living in Ireland), although the same could be said for those looking for Spanish information etc. (I've only used Spain as an example as that was the second country I checked, and I am unsure how many other major cities or countries are lacking in information.) If Microsoft had either given as much detail on all countries as they have for Great Britain in the release version or as add-on map packs, then this would probably be THE must have route planner, if that's what you need. As it stands, it's simply a very good product, depending on where you need to go. Also, you must be aware that Microsoft doesn't seem to have any support options for it. I assume partly this is because it does not need a software update, but I find it strange that Microsoft do not offer map updates (either free or for a fee). AutoRoute comes either as a standalone software package, or as part of Microsoft's Works Suite. The price given below is for the 2002 edition of AutoRoute, although you should be able to pick up an older version for a lot cheaper from the likes of eBay. Please Note: I've given it 3 stars because in it's current form it's a lot less useful to me. If you live in Great Britain, you could add a
n extra star. * Official Web Site (although this will only deal with the most up to date version) http://www.microsoft.com/autoroute/
He may have the whole world in his hand. But every PC owner knows there are dozens of decent route-making programs out there – some of them free on the Net – which put it in yours. Microsoft’s AutoRoute software ships free with many new PC’s but this latest version irons out some common concerns and takes the concept to new heights of functionality. For starters, it has broad-scale maps for the whole world, covers all of Europes roads, and has street-level detail for Britain, Ireland, France and Germany. Planning a route from A to B, stopping at C for some sightseeing and an overpriced brunch, has been simplified, and you can even make adjustments by yanking your chosen itinerary once it’s on the map. Plus, it’s perceptibly faster at calculating journeys than the previous incarnations. The only niggle is that it insists on giving you the average petrol cost of your trip in US dollars. Pah. You soon forgive this vestigial Americanism when you encounter a few of its feature overhauls. AutoRoute Great Britain 2001 boasts a basic audio-phrasebook in 11 languages, a GPS location finder, and the wondrously beneficial ability to save out your intended journeys as web pages to share with others. You can even convert your plans into Pocket Streets format for dumping on to a Windows CE PDA. A lengthy list of hotels, pubs and tourist sights are included in the key, but if they’re not sufficient, the package includes a raft of drawing tools for you to scrawl your own annotations on the page. Pushpins are customisable location markers on to which you can scribble addresses, notes or phone numbers, and you are encouraged to personalise every chart you create. Powerful and speedy route-planning tools collide with a highly customisable road map of Europe – the only thing AutoRoute can’t do is pack your luggage for you. Rumours that Microsoft intends to pop this in the 2002 version are, I assum
Honest I wouldn't. My sense of direction is terrible. I couldn't find my way out of an open paper bag, let alone manchester in rush hour. Give me a copy of Autoroute though and I'll find my way to just about anywhere in mainland UK. Which is where my problem lies. Being a nice fellow from Northern Ireland I'd really prefer it if they'd give some more detail across the water. Southern Ireland would be nice as well. It'd get such a warm response froma cross the way as there's nothing which really maps out Ireland that well. Another grip is the occasional mis-adventure in terms of which way roads actually go. Apart from these minor indescressions which happen to all route software this really is a gem with the new 2000 version leading the pack once again. A DVD version which is more feature rich would be a nice addition to the family and would be more than welcomed at our house. The interface provided is simple to the point where it's amazing you can actually do anything with the software and that's nice as there's little to master. A good all-round product which is heartilly recommended.