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Review: Centrafuse interface with Destinator navigation software
malaki86
Centrafuse Centrafuse with Destinator

Well, after running the demo for a couple weeks and now running the full version of Centrafuse XLE with North America navigation, I'll do the best I can to review it:

Centrafuse is in the process of upgrading from v1.20 to v2.0. I've been running Release Candidate 3 and I've gotta say - it's rock solid and VERY nice. The interface is truly made for a touchscreen, with very large buttons and easy to read text throughout. Remember, I use a 7" screen and have bad eyes. So, if it's easy for me to read, anyone can.

Now for the features:

Media player - I've got around 1,000 mp3's loaded onto my portable USB drive and it's soooo nice to be able to listen to a certain album, genre, artist or even all of them with a touch or two. I didn't try out the video or dvd player, as I have no use for them. The music will pause playing whenever the navigation needs to give you information on an upcoming turn, then resume the play.

Weather - At the moment it will only show a 36 hour forecast for one location. However, I do believe that they're working on a change to this to show the weather in your current location. The weather automatically updates ever 5 minutes.

Radio - This is for a FM tuner. I don't have one, so I can't comment on this feature.

Phone - You can pair a Bluetooth phone with Centrafuse and use it as a handsfree device to make/receive phone calls. At the moment, I'm not using this feature because of the price of a decent array mic.

Satellite Radio - If you have either an XM or Sirius tuner that is connected to your PC (XM has the choice of an XMDirect + USB adapter or XMPCR), you can play your XM through Centrafuse. Like the media player, it will automatically pause if the navigation needs to make an announcement. I just installed my XM this morning and am in love with it already.

Ipod - I don't have an Ipod, so again, I can't comment on this feature.

Pictures - This will allow you to browse through your photos.

Web - You guessed it - browse the internet. For small displays, you can set it for a large (easy to read) font size.

Email - I only tried the email for a minute or two, but it's very nice. It will alert you to new incoming emails, plus read them (Text to Speech) out loud. You can also send an email by using the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard, BTW, is huge - it fills the entire screen.

WiFi - Centrafuse can control your WiFi connections. I didn't try this since I use a Sprint AirCard.

OBDII - With the proper interface for your car, you can monitor different sensors from your cars computer. Of course, with my rig, this is of no use to me.

Cam - I don't have a webcam, so I couldn't try this. However, you could set it up like a backup cam. It doesn't automatically switch. I believe there's a plugin available that could do it though.

External Application - You can add your own applications to run "inside" Centrafuse. I use Drivers Daily Log, which is a log book for commercial drivers. It took me about 30 seconds to add this. Now I can switch between the logbook and any other feature of Centrafuse with a touch of the screen.

Navigation - The map data is Destinator, which uses Navteq data.

This one's gonna be a little long:

Automatic day/night color changing - In the settings, you can put for a specific time. However, in the last few days I've noticed that at sunrise/sunset, they change. I've got my times set for 10am/10pm, but they change almost exactly at sunrise/sunset. VERY NICE FEATURE.

Custom POIs (called Favorites in CF) - you can import your own POIs into the Favorites, and into your own sub-categories. Also, you can set it to show them on the map as your driving, or to hide them. One thing that is lacking is that you can't search for a Favorite by the city/location. They all list out with the distance to them.

Avoid Roads - I haven't tried this yet, but basically you can add roads that you wish to avoid.

2d/3d view - You have your choice of a top-down or 3-dimensional view. One thing to note - the 3d viewing distance is pretty short. By the time you see a turn in the road @ 50mph, you're already in the turn. With the 2d view, you can zoom in/out as needed and can also set Centrafuse to automatically zoom in on turns as you approach them.

Turn list - This shows the list of roads/turns you have remaining. It also shows the distance for each segment.

ETA, MTG & TTG - You can switch between displaying your ETA, your Miles to Go (to destination) or your Time to Go (Hours:minutes) (to destination)

Now for the complaints:

1 - The map shows the name of the road you're currently on or the satellite info. It won't, however, show you the name of the town you're in. This is a necessity, especially for a trucker.

2 - The navigation engine's maps are "segmented" into a group of states (in the US). While this is fine and dandy for someone that never leaves their area, for a trucker, it's crap. Let me list the problems with it:

a) You cannot select a Favorite that is in another segment than what you're currently in.
b) You cannot select your Home address (quick button) if it's in another segment than what you're currently in.
c) The only way to manually change the map segment is to add a new destination by city/address.
d) The program gets "confused" (for the lack of a better term) when crossing segments. Here's an example that happened to me this week:

I was located in Duncan, SC. Duncan is in the South-East map segment. I'm taking a load to Fairmont, WV. Fairmont is in the Mid-Atlantic map segment. The location I'm going to in Fairmont is saved as "Home". Well, I can't select it, so I manually change the map, put Fairmont in as my destination.

The system gives me a route with 450 miles to go. I can't see the entire route, however - only the route in the current segment. No problem - I know where I'm going anyway.

So, off I go. When I approached the NC/TN state line on I-26, it was showing around 380 miles remaining. However, when I crossed the state line into TN and it loaded the next segment (South-Central), the mileage changed to about 650 miles remaining.

As I approached the TN/VA state line on I-81, it was showing around 590 miles remaining. Again, when I crossed in VA and the last map segment loaded, the mileaged dropped to the correct reading of about 290 miles.

Final thoughts:
I absolutely love this program. Even with a Release Candidate, it is rock solid. I've had it crash on me 2 times in the 3 weeks I've ran it. I'm not sure why it crashed, but I just restarted it an was fine.

The built-in features alone are worth the money for it, especially for a touch-screen setup. Also, you can download a number of plugins to add even more functions to the program and tons of skins to change the appearance of it.

Other than the navigation not showing you the name of the town you're in (or closest to), my only real complaint is about the multiple map segment setup with it. I've posted a number of complaints on the Flux Media forums about it and they're working on a solution to that problem.

Also - v1.20 is the "stable" release that is available to purchase. Users will get a free upgrade to v2.0 as soon as it's released. Also, users get a free upgrade to the new navigation data as soon as it's released.

So, how do I rate this?

I'd say I give it about 4 stars out of 5. If they fix the mapset problems, it'll go higher.
Marvin Hlavac
malaki86, excellent review, thanks!

Was the installation complicated? Did one installer program take care of it all (the front-end and Destinator), or was installation a multiple step process?
malaki86
The installation was a single step process. Just hit "setup" and it does it's thing.

Of course, if you're adding additional features (like adding the XM radio or hooking up your bluetooth) there are steps for setting those up. For example, with my XM, I already had Centrafuse installed. Then I just followed the setup procedures for the XMPCR. After it was setup and working with it's own application, I just opened Centrafuse, went into the XM settings, set the port number that the XM uses, the playback/record lines (mic line for my laptop) and hit save. It took me at most 10 minutes to install start to finish, including setting up the XM software & plugging it in.

When you download the demo or the Release Candidate, it's the exact same as the final version except that there are only maps for New York City and Berlin Germany. The first time you run Centrafuse, it will walk you through setting everything up. Also, the demo is a 30-day unlimited demo. Meaning, everything in it works 100% (minus not having the navigation maps).
imran766
i think it is very usful software as long as me is concerned
Marvin Hlavac
Hi, imran766, welcome to the forum! I agree, Centrafuse looks nice. It seems malaki86 is in love with it, too .

I sent a quick e-mail to Flux Media, the maker of Centrafuse, asking them about the availability of map data for various parts of the world. Fluxmedia.com sells through its website Centrafuse North America, Centrafuse Europe, and Centrafuse Australia. I'm curious to find out if users can purchase additional maps for other parts of the world. I know that Destinator has had products for other countries. Could we buy other maps from Flux Media? From Destinator? Or could we buy Centrafuse compatible maps at all? It remains to be seen. Flux Media, feel free to let us know here at the forum, or via email.
Marvin Hlavac
Beside the usual USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia, even the following maps are (or soon will be) available by Flux Media for the Destinator GPS navigation software (embedded in Centrafuse):
  • Puerto Rico
  • Mexico
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • Brazil
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • UAE
Up-to-date list is at http://www.fluxmedia.net/availableMaps.aspx
Marvin Hlavac
Quote:
Originally Posted by malaki86
The only problem I have with the navigation is the fact that the North American maps are cut into regions. The cross-region routing is horrible.
Still not that long ago several GPS navigation products used 'regions' instead of one seamless map. Destinator is perhaps the last one still using this old system of managing maps. Hopefully they will change that soon.
TomP
malaki86 or Marvin Hlavac:
Good Morning!
Just a question about the equipment that you used this on.
Was it a laptop and if so, how would you connect all the equipment it says it will run, like "XM"?
If it wasn't a laptop what was it? I really like it but I can't get it to work on my laptop and the maps are in German, I think.
Thanks.
TomP
malaki86
I run my system on my laptop.

The XM tuner is controlled via USB, with the audio-out from the XM tuner going to the Mic jack on the laptop.

When you buy Centrafuse, you have a choice of North America, Europe or Australia. You can also purchase the additional maps if needed.

To see my full setup in my truck, go to this link:
http://www.freewebs.com/malaki86
Marvin Hlavac
I just linked this thread in the list of reviews. Again, thanks malaki86! By the way, do you know if it is possible to 'disable' the whole front end, and just run Destinator on your laptop? (For people who are not interested in the front-end software, but who want the GPS navigation software only.)
TomP
malaki86:
Thanks for the info.
I might give it a try again.
TomP
malaki86
As far as I, no, you have to run Centrafuse to get the Destinator navigation.
Jan
Hey all!

My name is Jan and I am the Customer Service Manager for Centrafuse.

I'm happy to answer any questions I can if anyone still has any.

To answer the question asking if it's possible to just run Destinator, the answer is No.

The routing engine is just used within Centrafuse. We have recently just released Centrafuse 2.0 final which includes the maps for the list posted above.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask! I'll also encourage that anyone that's interested in Centrafuse give the demo a try: http://www.fluxmedia.net/downloads.aspx
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Jan, would you have any knowledge if the next version of Destinator is going to have a seamless map of the whole of USA/Canada?
glennw
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan
Hey all!

My name is Jan and I am the Customer Service Manager for Centrafuse.

I'm happy to answer any questions I can if anyone still has any.

To answer the question asking if it's possible to just run Destinator, the answer is No.

The routing engine is just used within Centrafuse. We have recently just released Centrafuse 2.0 final which includes the maps for the list posted above.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask! I'll also encourage that anyone that's interested in Centrafuse give the demo a try: http://www.fluxmedia.net/downloads.aspx
I tried that link and got "Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)"

Glenn
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