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CoPilot Live on Nexus 7
Ken in Regina
First, I'll be up front about my past experience and, therefore, probable biases. I've tried a variety of vehicle navigation solutions over the years and always come back to dedicated navigation devices. And I'm a long-time Garmin user. My current vehicle navigation device of choice is Garmin's Nuvi (model 765T in my car and model 40 in my wife's).

I recently made a 1700km road trip and took the opportunity to see how my Nexus 7 (7" Android tablet) with ALK CoPilot Live would work for vehicle navigation. Here are my reactions to the experience.

My first reaction was surprise at how good the GPS chip is in the Nexus 7. It is quick to grab a location fix and handles it quite well in a variety of sitiations. Whether it was in a suction cup windsheild mount or on the passenger seat, it never seemed to have any difficulty getting and maintaining a location lock.

Here's the mount I used for the tablet.

I quite liked the size of the 7" screen. It was a treat to have all that map real estate displayed. But the screen on the Nexus 7 is not good for outdoor use. Even on a lightly overcast day it was difficult to see in the car. On a bright sunny day it's quite useless.

This doesn't make the Nexus 7 any less desirable as a tablet; just that it's not a very good solution for vehicle navigation. I had the same reaction to screen visibility when using laptops, notebooks and netbooks for vehicle navigation. They are not typically designed for use outdoors. .... It's also worth mentioning that I'm 66 and my vision is not what it once was.

I may have mentioned this a time or two, but I really don't like the user interface of CoPilot Live. I want to call it a "ransom note" interface. That is, it works different ways in different parts of the program. That's not necessarily a bad thing if it's done right. But my brain doesn't seem to connect with it. I find it quite jarring to go from one method of doing things to another method and sometimes even to a third method all to find and execute a single function. I have no doubt that I could eventually get used to it if I spent enough time with it. But I have no compelling reason to do so.

The navigation display of CoPilot Live on the Nexus 7 was quite nice. I would like to be able to display some of the information on the navigation screen that I can with my Nuvi devices. And it would be nice if it was as easy to change the nav display as on a Nuvi (another user interface quibble). But it gets the job done quite nicely.

Overall, I can't recommend the Nexus 7 for vehicle navigation but it would be a completely different story if you could find a tablet with as good a GPS chip as the Nexus 7 and sufficient screen brightness for outdoor use.

In addition to the Nexus 7, I also tried my HTC smartphone with CoPilot Live. You can see my experience here.

...ken...
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