More development work to be done by Pharos
Yes, it's inexpensive when compared to some alternatives, but the devil is in the details. These suppliers all differentiate themselves on the software and feature set since the underlying chips tend to be common, so this is where you will want to focus when comparing. Things I like about this system: 1. The hardware is well done, though the cable to the receiver could be a little longer. 2. The option to view satellite positions in their software is really neat. 3. Integration with contacts for route planning is nice. However, I just returned my Pharos system for the following reasons: 1. It crashes my Dell Axim X5 PDA, and this is apparently a known issue. On investigation, the vendor's web site has a FAQ on what to do in this situation. Unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence, and it is clearly a software bug. 2. Another bug in the navigation software showed my distance (as a bird flies) increasing to the destination while I was actually headed towards it on the interstate prescribed by the routing software. After about 45 minutes of this, it abruptly fixed itself as if nothing had ever gone wrong. 3. The route calculation is so slow as to be unusable, and this is on a 400MHz Dell Axim X5 with a ton of memory- a very highest performance device. 4. Map inaccuracies are such that it occasionally indicates the user is off-route while on a major highway or the interstate. I think that this is a case where map position coordinates for the roadway are at least 50 to 100 feet in error. 5. Maps have to be manually loaded from region to region. Even if present in the memory, the user has to instruct the software to use it. This is a big hassle, and one that is not tolerable while driving. 6. Generated routes are terrible in town and out, and I found myself using a paper map for the sake of efficiency instead of this system. As an example of how ridiculous things can be, the device instructed me to exit Interstate 20 in the middle of nowhere then immediately get back on the highway. This was not related to a map inaccuracy; the exit ramp, stop sign, and entrance ramp were exactly where they were indicated to be but the instructions made no sense. There are also a number of product features and tweaks that should be addressed (in my opinion): 1. A route builder tool is needed where the user is presented with route options, or can constrain the routing engine to use a certain highway or road set. Without real time traffic information, school zone locations, etc, this would be necessary even if the routing engine were good. And wile not a panacea, this would also speed the calculations up as a side effect. 2. The display should auto center when one zooms. Drawing a zoom box on the screen only instructs the unit what scale you wish to see rather than zooming in on a specific region. 3. The map view tool is weak, making the process of transferring maps to your PC and Pocket PC slow and tedious. 4. There should be an option to adjust the amount of detail shown on the map: low, medium, high. I saw situations at both extremes that I would have liked to adjust (actually needed to in one case). 5. It would also be nice to have basic trip computer features like ETA at destination as well as waypoints or road changes, average speed, a speed profile, etc. 6. The unit should be able to store and upload actual detailed routes to Pharos' web site for analysis. This would allow them to tweak their routing engine to a point of usability, and perhaps generate rules or algorithms that would allow it to finish calculating before you arrive. Conclusion: At its current stage of development, this is a toy at best.
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