March 23, 2006



Posted: 04.22.05

How to Get There from Here

The problem with online mapping and directions, when you live in a walking city, is that the maps and directions are made for people in cars. You also have to remember to map and print the directions in advance. (This may sound like a silly or small factor until you are juggling dozens of details and your mental check-list, running out the door in the morning, involves glancing down to make sure youíre wearing shoes. And pants.) If you have a Web-enabled device, you could surf on the go, but thatís not ideal, and it still leaves you with the issue of driving directions if youíre walking, and if youíre driving it would be awkward (and dangerous) to be constantly glancing down.
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By Michelle Maisto

For all of these reasons—plus the fact that it’s blissfully easy to use—gate5’s smart2go Mobile Navigator is an incredibly useful tool.

The bad news is, it works with a limited range of smartphones: the Nokia 6600, the HP iPAQ line, PocketPCs, Microsoft Smartphone Mobile OS and the Treo 650.

The good news is, on these smartphones, it’s a Godsend (and did I mention it’s easy to use?). The copy I tested was a beta version of the New York Metro region, but the full kit, which will be available in retail chains in early June, will include: A CD with comprehensive coverage of the United States and Canada, on which (PC only) users can plan routes as well as select geographic areas they’d like to export to their phones. City guides, which can help you choose a restaurant by cuisine or locate a restaurant you already know you’d like to visit, as well as mark thousands of points of interest (such as parking garages or local attractions) at your request. A Socket GPS receiver with Bluetooth wireless technology (which transmits to a satellite). And a Universal car mount you can suction to your windshield

Smart2go won me over with such features as being able to view the moving map in 2D or 3D; choosing a map based on walking or driving; there’s a nighttime map that’s easier to see in the dark; it will speak the directions aloud to you (which is nice whether you’re walking or bike riding or driving). You can also store addresses for quicker location, and you can locate things by typing in the address or locating it on the map and selecting the spot. I also can’t emphasize enough how cool it is to just scroll around on the map. I started in Brooklyn and cruised the little pointer around with my phone’s joystick, then crossed the East River (which gate5 was generous enough to render as a swath of blue, instead of other more true-to-life choices), then Manhattan, then the Hudson River and finally far into central New Jersey. How nice it would be to always have such detailed maps in your pocket when in Greenwich Village, where the streets lose their grid format and it’s easy to get turned around. And speaking of turned around, if you’re in “simulate route” mode and you go off-course, smart2go will reconfigure your route. Better still, if a friend without smart2go gets turned around, you can route his course and send him directions via SMS.

(When I tried sending an SMS with directions I did have trouble, but then again, it is a beta version, and I was using a Nokia phone with a T-Mobile SIM card, which is aggressively frowned upon by the GSM Powers That Be.)

Per gate5’s Web site, the smart2go Mobile Navigator is available for the United States and Canada, Europe, the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, the Alps, Spain, Scandinavia and Poland—which I presume accounts for why some of the direction distances are in meters (though perhaps that’s due, again, to the beta model).

Smart2go does not use up your minutes (unless you send an SMS message), has no monthly fee and will be available at Fry’s Electronics, Mobile Planet and a variety of online retailers for $299, though $349 is the suggested retail price.
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