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Review: Microsoft AutoRoute
Larry-TVI
This is a really important piece of information. I did think of buying an old version of AutoRoute, although the price difference between 2010 and 2011 versions is not big enough to justify it. Your info reassured me that it really would not make any sense.

As for getting used to the program prior to the planned trip, I’d say it’s not just a good idea, it’s a brilliant one. Imagine: spend a sleepless night in a plane, hastily assemble the bikes at an airport, and being in a zombie-like state try to figure out how that bloody program works, if it works of course J!

Thanks a lot!
Larry
SpadesFlush
Yeah, it is a bit like buying a new camera and opening the box on the first day of your vacation trip. At least in the old days, when you had to worry about things like lens caps, loading film, and exposure meters!
Ken in Regina
I should clarify something. It is not necessary to actually be in Europe to play with Autoroute.

Neither Autoroute nor Streets&Trips have the slightest idea where you are if you do not have a GPS connected. Without a GPS feeding current location data to them, they are both quite braindead regarding your current location.

So you can just as easily explore Europe in Autoroute from the comfort of your living room/computer room as you can explore the US in Streets&Trips on the same computer. You can just pan/zoom the maps to look at the details or you can plan and save complete and detailed trips. In either one. While sitting in any location. As long as neither of them knows where you are.

So don't connect a GPS and keep your location secret from them and you can play with both to your heart's content.

Where location becomes important is when/if you want to learn how to use the active navigation functions, like using the software to interactively follow a route in real time. But I suspect that on a bicycle this will not be an issue. Probably not a lot of room to set up a GPS and laptop on the handlebars what with all your gear hanging on the bike.

I use an eTrex Legend HCx for realtime navigation on my mountain bike and my motorcycle. Or just stop and pull a paper map out of my pannier. Paper maps are very light. And they never need recharging.

...ken...
Larry-TVI
Hi Ken, my assumption that AutoRoute won’t let me play with routing is based on my very limited experience with a Vizio tablet. I don’t remember which app I use for navigation, but it did not allow me to prepare any routes for Europe, because my location was, well, pretty far from there. Naturally, the tablet had a build in GPS receiver and a lot of issues along with it, so I returned it three days after buying. Nevertheless, it let me feel how good it is when your location is shown on a map. Other than that I personally don’t need much more from a navigation device. But since you say I can do some routing in the MS programs, I’ll try. I just ordered a GPS receiver from Amazon, it will arrive in a few day, so I am “safe” to give it a try.

I considered buying a Garmin eTrex, but it’s hard to justify the cost of the unit plus maps if I am going to use it once a year.

As for paper maps here is what I do. I design my routes in Google maps, down to smallest details, and then just print screen shots, piece by piece. It allows me to vary scale as much as I need, do not print unnecessary areas, etc. Cost – next to nothing. As I go along the routes I get rid of used pages. Google maps are not ideal, last year, in Europe, their maps led me to nonexistent roads several times, so having a GPS of some sort definitely helps. But at present it is too early to rely on a GPS entirely.

Larry
Ken in Regina
Re not relying completely on a GPS, you are a wise man, Larry.

One of the things I dislike about trying to use the Microsoft programs for realtime navigation is that the routing functions have no sense of "Here" when you are setting up a route. Not even when there is a GPS receiver connected and the software is displaying your actual location on the map!

The Visio nav app you played with works like a typical personal navigation device, e.g. TomTom, Garmin, etc. It is aware of where you are and makes the assumption that any route you set up will be starting "Here" ... "Here" being either your current location if the GPS receiver is active and has a fix or your last known location if it's not. They make it difficult to do advance planning where you want to go from some starting point that is somewhere other than where you are right now.

The Microsoft programs are exactly the opposite. Even when there is an active location fix the routing functions refuse to use that information. They force you to always enter the starting location. Always. No way to avoid it.

In your case that's a good thing. Even if you have a GPS connected with a solid location fix at Point A, you can still ask it to calculate a route from Point B to Point C, where the starting Point B could be halfway around the planet from where you are (as long as it is a location the the program knows about, e.g. an address in its address database, a POI in its point of interest database or a pushpin that you have created).

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
Quote:
They force you to always enter the starting location. Always. No way to avoid it.
AutoRoute and S&T can be used in a variety of ways, so I can understand where you are coming from, Ken, when you are saying that. But it all depends on how one uses the software. When GPS tracking has been enabled, and when you have entered your destination address to the program, there's no need to enter a starting point address, instead just simply hit the F3-key and the program (re)calculates a route from your current location to the set destination. The F3 is a keyboard shortcut built into both AR and S&T.
Ken in Regina
Thanks for the tip, Marvin.

That's good news for me. The good news for Larry is he has a choice. So he can still plan routes in some far off country even if the GPS is connected and telling the program he's Here and not Over There.

...ken...
SpadesFlush
I looked at that Vizio tablet and it looks quite nice. However, what operating system runs it? Android? Windows?? Unless it has Windows, I don't think you, Larry, will be able to run AR or S&T on it. It is not clear to me if that is what you are intending.

There are devices of about the same size as the Vizio tablet that run Windows and, therefore, AutoRoute such as the Viliv X70EX. Long-time readers of this forum have endured my favorable comments on its little brother, the S5, for some years now. My attitude and product loyalty remains unchanged.
Larry-TVI
The Vizio tablet runs some version of Android. Don’t remember which one, but definitely not 3.2, something older. No, I did not mean to run AR on it. I used some Android app for navigation, which app don’t remember either. But that’s irrelevant anyway. The tablet worked well as a navigational device, but it had lots of other issues, which were well described in many reviews. I hoped those were isolated cases, but I experienced most of the described problems. So, I returned the tablet. Instead, I decided to try a netbook – AR – GPS receiver combination . It should give me way more flexibility and better performance, for the price of more weight and bulk. So, it’s a trade off after all.

Larry
SpadesFlush
OK, I am glad you confirmed NOT going with the tablet. What size is the netbook display; AR not happy if too small....
tcassidy
It is not that it won't install or work, just that the navigation section takes up so much room. If you just need it for tracking or confirming your location, that size screen is ok.

I included some screen captures of S&T 2011 on a Toshiba W100 - that's a 7" screen running 1024x600 as do most netbooks.

Terry
Attached Images
1024x600.jpg   route.jpg  
SpadesFlush
I agree on the issue of screen real estate, Terry, but I was thinking too of screens with less than those pixels. Note that the vertical sidebar of your screenshots can be shrunk by dragging its right border to left. The fonts will not be shrunk, however, and some of the info might be lost. For instance, on a German autobahn it looked like I was doing 14 MPH when it was actually more like 145.
tcassidy
Netbooks are all 1024x600 from what I have seen.

If you are just using the program to determine where you are, you can close the GPS tab completely (CTRL A) to provide the most screen real estate.

Terry
Attached Images
full-screen.jpg  
colthepol
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
I love the marketing-speak "Intuitive interface that you've used before" which means we here at Microsoft haven't given you users any new pesky features or enhancements that you have to learn. What a relief!
I'm retired hence the pms.
I'm still on win 7 prof 64bit onathinkpad and 7 home on a tosh 675 17 inc with new HD after a failure after 3 years.I thought and hard and decided to give the win 8's a miss
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