Review: Mapfactor PC Navigator 7 USA / Canada
Marvin Hlavac

Here's my brief review of Mapfactor PC Navigator 7. This GPS navigation program has truly been a pleasure to use on a laptop. It has a very beautiful 3D-view mode, smooth auto-zoom, and very likely it can do most of what users expect. So rather than writing about the features that just simply work as they should, I'm going to point out a few items that could be improved in future releases of this fabulous software.

My review copy of Mapfactor PC Navigator 7 USA/Canada actually arrived in a box for Mapfactor PC Navigator 7 Europe . At first I worried Mapfactor sent the wrong version, but later I realized the DVD contains all available versions and maps. It is the serial number on the inside of the DVD box that tells the installation program which version and which maps will be available for installation.

Laptop GPS World: If users have the USA/Canada version, and they want to buy the European version, or vice versa, do they need to order a new DVD, or will buying a new license key suffice?

MapFactor: For the PC or Pocket Navigators all the maps are on one DVD (North America, Europe). So they would just buy new licence, which can be sent by email.

Mapfactor uses map data by Teleatlas. Teleatlas and Navteq are the two largest map data providers in the world. The quality of their maps is not too much different these days. Some users feel Teleatlas has a slight edge in Europe, and some say Navteq is still a bit better in North America.

Mapfactor Navigator has been designed for users of touch screens (PocketPC PDA, and PND). UMPC and TabletPC users with touch-screens will love this program, but how about people who rely on their keyboards? The PC version does have some keyboard shortcuts, such as Enter-key for accessing main menu, and PgUp and PgDn to change zoom levels. Tab-key cycles though buttons in some windows. I wish more shortcuts would be added in future versions.

I love the ability to toggle navigation mode and route overview mode. Actually the "route overview mode" is a misnomer, because you can also use it for navigation, if you so desire.

I would love to see a keyboard shortcut to toggle navigation mode and route overview mode. In the navigation mode I would like to have a keyboard shortcut to toggle 2D and 3D, and another one to toggle north up and heading up. All these features are accessible via menu, but it would be nice to have a faster access to them via a single key shortcut.

I use a 15 inch screen, and the above screenshots have been taken at 1024 x 768 pixels. That is the reason why the text and buttons may appear smaller than needed. However, rest assured that if you are going to use Mapfactor PC Navigator on a smaller screen at a lower resolution setting, all the buttons and text will be proportionately bigger. The pictures bellow were actually taken at 640 x 480, because I wanted the small text to still be legible after resizing it.

The above three pictures show the main menu accessible by either clicking/tapping the on-screen "menu" button, or by pressing the Enter-key on your keyboard. The 6 pictures bellow depict the steps of entering a destination address.

While the entering of destination is "OK", there are a couple of things that could be improved in future versions. Canada should be divided to it's provinces, just like the USA is now divided into states. The program should remember the last Country/State/Province used (users shouldn't have to select it each and every time). It would be fabulous to be able to search a street name in "Any" city (without having to specify "City" first).

In the process of entering destination I noticed a slight annoyance. Occasionally, when going from one screen to the next, a letter or a number has been already preselected, necessitating me to press the back button to delete it. It's not a big deal, but it's just an extra unnecessary step.

Laptop GPS World: I observed that when I plan a route while I'm off road (for example I'm at a parking lot far away from a road), the program will display "No route available". When I start driving I would expect the program to start giving me directions as soon as (or even before) I reach a road. Occasionally it may take even a minute or two before the program starts giving me directions under such circumstances. Is this a known issue? When I enter my destination while on a road (or close to a road), then I don't experience this little annoyance".

MapFactor: Can you give me more specific information about this issue? We know there was this kind of problem, but it should be fixed by now. If you can give me the exact position or location so we could test it and prepare the patch for it.
I will follow up on the above. It's not too big of an issue, once a user knows about it, but it would be nice to see this corrected in future releases. The following are few random comments on some features.

* The program can be set to avoid toll roads. I wish a future version incorporated a highway avoidance, too (Use highways / Avoid highways).

* The program has a "Car mode" and a "Truck mode". I haven't tested the truck mode, and I'm only assuming the purpose of the feature is to avoid roads trucks of certain size are not allowed on.

* Route settings include: Fastest/Shortest/Cheapest/Pedestrian

* If you have a TMC receiver you can turn this feature on for traffic updates and re-routing.

* Odometer is a tool that lets you measure distances as you drive. This may come handy to business travellers. The measured mileage can be split to private and business mileage.

* In Navigator 7 it is possible to track vehicles fitted with the VTU008 / VTU009 tracking unit connected through the Internet (3G, GPRS, WiFi etc). You can add up to 10 vehicles. You can only track one vehicle at a time.

Anyone at all interested in this software, please do click the following link. Chippy has done an excellent review over at UMPC Portal. It includes screenshots and even videos: Mapfactor Navigator 7 Europe - review by Chippy at UMPC Portal

Mapfactor PC Navigator 7 can be purchased at www.mapfactor.cz

Update: New version: PC Navigator

Questions? / Comments?
Is this product really available in Canada? I would like to try the TeleAtlas coveage and it looks UMPC friendly as is iNav 4. Shipping it from Czechoslovakia plus the $185 price seems a little out of line though.

Marvin Hlavac
Yes, the price is almost double of iGuidance. And the upcoming release of Garmin Mobile PC will sell for only $59. While PC Navigator 7 has some very attractive features, I suspect the lower priced alternatives will sell better.

Just for the record, PC Navigator can be purchased either from the Czech Republic: Mapfactor - Navigation software, or from the UK: Directions Ltd. - Laptop Navigation. I'm not aware of any North American distributor (and the UK website doesn't list the USA/Canada version at the time of this writing).
good idea
Marvin Hlavac
Hi albadar,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

What's "well done", and what's a "good idea". Could you elaborate a little bit more ?
does Mapfactor PC Navigator 7 USA/Canada have the auto day nite screen color change? this is a big plus for the heavy user
Marvin Hlavac
That's a very good question. Such a (IMHO) simple feature to implement, but for some reason users still have to switch between Night and Day color schemes manually. (By the way there already is a newer version available.)

This is a non-issue for people who only drive during daylight hours. But if I start driving before sunrise, I will eventually have to pull over to a parking lot just to switch to a brighter color mode.
Ken in Regina
Yet another one of the many many reasons my Garmin iQue 3600 is still my prefered device. It does switch automatically at the calculated sunrise and sunset times for each day. AND it is a preference setting so you can have it or not, as you please.

Marvin Hlavac
Garmin Mobile PC does it, too, and so does iNav iGuidance. Hopefully PC Navigator 9 will do it, too.
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