Every year I return to Malaysia and every year its the same old news - there are new roads! The development rate in this country is phenomenal! Its just mad. I always get lost travelling around Klang Valley. And I can't blame myself. Who to blame? Samy Vellu of course! And his craze for toll plazas. Mr Vellu is the only leader of the major Barisan Nasional (National Front) components (MIC) whom have yet to hand in power to a younger generation.
The roads are confusing with not enough signs indicating what road is what and where does it lead to. It also does not indicated if the roads are toll roads. In London and rest of Europe its just as confusing. However, the motorways there are managable with loads of signs and codes of major roads to help people find their way. But that does not make it any easier!
Luckily there is the vector based TomTom Navigator 3 for Pocket PC that I recently obtained. The version I got contains detailed maps of Great Britain and major roads of Europe. I have been a long time user of TomTom routing softwares, the previous versions being TomTom CityMaps 2001, TomTom CityMaps 2003 and TomTom Routeplanner. The major advantage of Navigator 3 is its usage of 3D maps in GPS mode as well as customisable points of interest (POI). It also has a nice female voice (there are several options) instructing me. Also door to door street planning and route planning has been integrated so now you won't need two separate programs (unlike CityMaps and Routeplanner).
The usage of POI is major. I am able to install POI's downloaded from the internet for various things such as the nearest WiFI hotspot, Safeway and more importantly Gatso speed cameras. :D
Note: TomTom Navigator 3 only works on Pocket PC. You have to buy another version for PalmOS and SymbianOS Series 6. Which is a bummer! The version of TomTom CityMaps that I own works with PalmOS 3/4, Pocket PC 2000-2003, Epoc and Nokia Communicator.
You can purchase TomTom Navigator 3 software or bundled with bluetooth GPS or serial connector GPS. Some of the detailed map options available for puchase includes France, Italy and Germany. Apart from a few quirks, he maps are generally of high quality and are sourced from TeleAtlas BV and Ordnance Survey.
Unfortunately there are no maps for any country outside Europe, North America and Australia. So my trips to Malaysia would always require the use of 'guessing' and outdated paper maps. I pray that one day, some enterprising company would see fit to release maps of Malaysia in vector format.
Below are some screenshots. GPS was simulated running demo mode as I have no access to a GPS hardware. And since I am in Malaysia now GPS is totally useless as there are no Malaysia maps available.
Screenshots: 3D maps are darn useful (but you either love it or hate it). However TTN3 does not support road names on navigation mode yet only in route planning mode (1st two screenshots). The new OS independant Navigator engine which is used by Navigator for Palm, Mobile and Go features road names.
If you want to find out more about TomTom Navigator 3 for Pocket PC I recommend that you read this review by Pocket GPS. The review for TomTom Navigator for PalmOS is here. And this one is for the GO.
For those without Pocket PC and planning to travel to Europe there are several options available including Navigator for PalmOS, Navigator Mobile (for SymbianOS Series 60) and TomTom GO, an OS independant GPS device that looks like a classic Apple iMac.
Gadget Galore! Screenshot from PocketGPS.co.uk; L-R: TomTom Navigator for Palm, TomTom Mobile, TomTom Go