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REVIEW: iGO North America 2006 - SD
Posted by Thomas Chan - on Tuesday, 29.08.06 - 11:04:32 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 31527x
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I have the honor to review the iGo My Way Navigation Software 2006 All Region Beta version after publishing the TomTom Navigation 5 review couple weeks ago. The package arrived from GPS & More Ltd. in about a week. I have extensively used one in-car navigation system for 4 years, an older version of iGuidance on the second generation IPAQ for 2 years, and lately the TomTom Navigation 5 software on T-mobile MDA. This would be an interesting comparison, especially with the TomTom Navigation 5 software, since the other two are considered older generation hardware and software.

What's in the package:

  • iGo My Way Navigation Software 2006 in a 1 GB miniSD card
  • SD adapter
  • CD-ROM with user manual

One of the selling point of this software is its ease of installation. Plug & Go is the keyword here. There is no ActiveSync required, no need to download maps and no need for product registration. All you need to do is to plug in the miniSD or SD card with the provided adapter, install the software and you are ready to go. I believe this is to directly address the installation issues people have encountered when using TomTom and other navigation software. The even better news is that the installed program is about 9K, so it does not take up precious program store memory on my MDA. This is indeed an excellent install concept, except when I plugged in the iGo My Way miniSD card and installed for the first time, it got stuck at install status screen. Pressed the OK key and got no response. I ended up having to soft reset the device, uninstall and re-install the software again. This time, everything came up nicely. According to iGo, the PDA might have something conflicting in its memory, holding large part of it with some other program. The soft reset eventually cleared it up.

Because the iGo My Way program and map data took up almost the entire 1 GB miniSD card capacity (below), I could not put my usual 500-600MB MP3 files there and use both iGo My Way and TCPMP concurrently. This is one downside of having everything packed into one memory card and a typical case of trading install convenience with flexibility. One alternative is to backup and then eliminate unused maps on the card (for instance by using WM5torage if you don't have a card reader handy), leaving enough room to store mp3 files. Since this software is restricted to the CID Register of the miniSD card, I cannot copy the entire content to a larger capacity card and use the extra memory for mp3 files. May be iGo My Way can, in the future, provide higher capacity memory card version for those who need the extra room for other programs/data.

Since I have already paired the GPS receiver with the MDA, all it took is to run the auto Detect function in the iGo My Way software. Although this is common among other navigation software like iGuidance, somehow TomTom Navigation 5 is still using manual GPS receiver detection/setting.

Launching iGo My Way took about the same amount of time with TomTom, about 30-40 seconds. iGo My Way does provide progress/status update on screen (right), unlike TomTom where you get nothing until their legal warning screen appears. After everything is initialized, you are at the main menu (left).

Comments on the User Interface
Even though number of menu layers decreased in iGo My Way compared to TomTom, menu structure is not as intuitive as TomTom. Took me a while to figure out how to navigate for the first time, as the default starting point was in Europe. But once I got familiar with the menu structure, it actually took me less time to get to most tasks than in TomTom. UI transition in iGo My Way is also very smooth. I did not find any UI glitches such as those I found in TomTom (additional tap, hidden POI info).

Here are the Find (left), and Quick (right) tabs. Find covers everything you need to start navigating to a destination. The Quick tab allows you to quickly set a few commonly used options as well as managing POI and logs.

Route tab is used after a destination is chosen, where you can view/edit/delete your route.

In general, iGo My Way software is harder to view while driving in bright sunlight, in comparison to TomTom, because of couple factors:

  • color profile contrast is not sharp enough (left). Green, Bozi and YoB color profiles are better than the default setting, but still not as good as the one in TomTom,
  • text size too small, font not bold, and no option to adjust it, and
  • freeway exits and merges are not apparent visually (right screen shot, notice the small exit indication from 280 to 380).

Even though we are not supposed to look at the display while driving, sometimes visual indication is crucial. That being said, iGo My Way does provide a top progress bar (the black top bar in the left screen shot above) for making turn, freeway merges and exits, and gives you ample voice prompts beforehand. It also provides pop up info on the map and visual indication whether your destination is on the right or left side of the road (left screen shot below, note the slight tilt at the destination). But you really need to stare hard at the display to be able to see the info. To be useful, visual indication needs to be enhanced or the same info needs to be incorporated into voice prompts. After looking at the screen in IGo My Way, I definitely miss the big icons, fonts and sharp contrast display in TomTom (right).

Another thing I miss is a simple Guided Tour as in TomTom. Even though TomTom does not provide a comprehensive training on the product, and in fact, you really should not need one if the UI is done right, having a simple tutorial will guide any newbie without him/her digging into the user manual. iGo My Way, however, provides help text for all settings, something TomTom does not provide.

iGo My Way supports multi-language voice prompts. However, there is no Asian language voice prompt in my beta version. According to iGo, they will be included when they deploy the product in the Asian market. I couldn't find a female US voice, so I picked the UK female voice. It's just a matter of time and effort to provide both male and female voice prompts for all supported languages.

POI navigation turned out to be one of the strong points in IGo My Way. POI are organized into logical groups. I tried to look up restaurants around my areas. It started with the common franchised restaurants (right), choosing Other will list out the rest (left). I could use Filter to find specific ones or select All to browse through the list. I also could browse through each one before deciding which one to navigate to. This is exactly what POI navigation is supposed to work. The only minor thing iGo My Way did not have is integrate the call function after finding a specific POI, something TomTom does provide, but through a separate path in menu navigation.

iGo My Way also provides Fly Over function, similar to TomTom's Demo route, executing a virtual navigation to your selected destination. One thing I could not find is the way to speed up iGo My Way Fly Over function. Since the default speed is slow, it might take a while to finish a long route. Thanks to the tips from iGo, holding down button 1 when pressing the Fly Over button will switch to high speed. Keep in mind there will be no voice prompt, street label or pop up info while running in high speed mode.

Test Route
I used the same test route as I did in the TomTom review, from my home in San Francisco to my work place in Milpitas, California. iGo My Way did provide the shortest route to my work place as well as on the return route. It did not point me to any toll road nor to any non-existing road as TomTom did. So my conclusion is that iGo My Way uses maps that are either more up to date or more accurate than TomTom. This is a very critical factor in any navigation system, as map accuracy is the bread and butter of any navigation software. According to iGo, one of their strength is their map conversion tool, which can convert and compress the entire Europe or North America map overnight, giving them the ability to release the most up to date maps from their map provider.

As mentioned earlier, I could not use media player concurrently and extensively as the miniSD card could not house enough mp3 files. When switching between iGo My Way and the media player, I used the same strategy as in TomTom, making use of the phone hang up button and the small icons in the bottom task bar.

In terms of stability of the product, I believe iGo My Way is in par with TomTom. Only once over the past few weeks' usage, my MDA was soft rebooted when invoking iGo My Way software. I could not reproduce the issue since.

As mentioned earlier, iGo My Way software's voice prompts are accurate and give ample warning before each turn, freeway merge or exit. In addition, the highly visible top progress bar also gave accurate account on when I should be making the turn/exit/merge. That being said, I do notice iGo My Way provides more voice prompts than TomTom when cruising on freeways. Depending on whether you are more or less familiar with the route, this could be viewed as either useful or annoying. I tend to like TomTom's minimal voice prompts on freeways, giving me more time to listen to uninterrupted music, as long as both voice and visual navigation will eventually lead me to my destination.

Both iGo My Way and TomTom have the same issue of requiring city name to start navigation. Navigating to a city in a different state did take me a while to figure everything out in iGo My Way. I had to click change country (left) and select the appropriate state map (right) before entering the city name. My guess is that the current UI is inherited from Europe and may need further tuning for North America. In TomTom, as long as the city is within the map region, which spans multiple states, finding it is quite straight forward.

Another critical difference, I tried navigating from San Francisco to New York, virtually of course. TomTom does not support this since the route spans two different regions. iGo My Way does allow me to do so, because they compile the entire North America map data as one huge map, instead of the simple cross region based on MR layer, according to iGo. I only have 3000 miles to cover in 48 hours, perfect for my weekend trip. ;-)

Advanced Services:
According to iGo, real time traffic is done through Traffic Message Channel (TMC) in Europe, where radio stations now transmit a specially encoded TMC signal containing real-time traffic information. However, this only applies to devices such as Mio C710, but not for Pocket PC or Smartphone without built-in TMC attenna, or users in North America, unless the same is encoded here as in Europe. I supposed future releases of iGo My Way will figure out a way for Pocket PC or Smartphone users to integrate real time traffic with its navigation software. Safety/speed camera info is also available in Europe, but will not be applicable for North America. Therefore, neither TMC nor Safety Camera info was available and tested in this review.

Final Conclusion

In summary, iGo My Way definitely gives TomTom a good run for its money. There are things that iGo My Way does better than TomTom and there are certainly things that TomTom does better. I am enclosing the pros and cons for your reference. Since the race is quite close, I supposed the final purchasing decision will have to depend on what/where your priorities are as well as at what price point iGo My Way will be offered in North America. According to iGo, suggested retail price will be around 120-130 USD, including the 1GB miniSD card. That would be a very reasonably priced navigation software.


  • simple installation
  • more up to date and accurate maps
  • support navigation to different states in different regions
  • excellent POI database look up and navigation
  • good voice prompts, giving ample warning before each turn, freeway exit and merge
  • provide visual indication, namely progress bar for when to turn, exit and merge
  • nice UI transitions, less menu layers and no UI glitch
  • nice Pop Up Info on map
  • provide visual indication whether your destination is on your right or left (though quite hard to see)
  • auto defect GPS receiver
  • multi-language voice prompts
  • provide application start up as well as routing/rerouting progress indication
  • free map update


  • display color contrast not visible in bright sunlight
  • text too small and font too light to be visible while driving
  • visual indication of freeway exits and merges difficult to see while driving
  • cannot use media player concurrently as miniSD card is full and cannot accommodate additional mp3 files unless you manually take out maps
  • menu navigation not as intuitive as TomTom
  • no integrated real time traffic info available in North America
  • no Asian language support for voice prompts (coming soon)
  • no guided tour or simple tutorial (but do have Settings help text)
  • need city name to navigate (same as TomTom)
  • no integrated phone call to POI

Happy navigating!

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