Route 66 2000

A year ago, I reviewed the predecessor to this program Route 66 99. It made a great impression as a truly interactive map of Britain with many ways to navigate from town-to-town and street-to-street. It wasn’t without flaws, but it was so helpful and inexpensive that I loved it. The new version has addressed some of the problems of the older version and added some new features – but there are still quirks. One of the problems with the last version, was a tendency to ignore its own information . For example, one route sent me down a flight of stairs in a pedestrian alleyway. The new version now aims me on a more sensible route – without the need for a stunt man. The maps have been updated, so the street I live on – which was made one-way just as the previous version was released – is now marked as such. The maps are still not perfect though – smaller streets are more likely to be inaccurate, and blocked-off streets are particularly problematic. Whoever’s in charge of updating doesn’t get all the information needed for the back-streets of Britain.
Piece of cake
However, most long journeys take place on the highways and byways, and these are accurate. And navigating them with Route 66 is easier than ever. Simply type in a street, town, station, park or hotel and it will find it, or a list of possibilities, in a second or two. This is a big improvement over the previous system, which was constantly trying to pre-empt the destination after each letter was typed. It was a nice idea, but it made the process frustratingly slow. There’s also a postcode search available as an alternative way of finding a street. The file of landmarks has been expanded to include major hotels and sports facilities, and even bowling alleys and wineries. It isn’t clear how these hot spots are selected, but the list isn’t complete by any means. It’s an improvement, though – smaller airports are now included, instead of just the international ones. The parking facilities feature is especially useful. In a city like London, parking space is difficult to find, and signs in central London can be misleading. The hotel guide, while not complete, is still useful – it gives full addresses and telephone numbers, even for 020 lines. It would be possible to spend weeks on the road without resorting to a tourist information centre, though they’re included too. Navigating is simply a matter of typing in a start point and destination, and hitting the calculate button. Often-used addresses can be recorded as push pins. This means the address can be clicked on, rather than looked up every time. When Route 66 calculates a journey, it gives a list of directions and shows the route on the map. There’s also a results window showing distance and time calculations. It shows fuel and expense calculations, but these need to be set up correctly to get an accurate result. Setting up the fuel consumption is a little frustrating because when it is set up for miles, it must be calculated for per-gallon consumption – litres would be the obvious choice in the UK. The measurements can be changed to metric, but that means all the distances are in kilometres. Something that’s missing since the last version is mode of transport. Before, you could specify whether a truck or a car was being used for the journey. Not everybody drives both a truck and a car, but it gave the opportunity to set different speeds for different vehicles. In my case, it gave me the chance to put settings in more suited to a motorcycle. This wasn’t just useful for car driver/motorcycle riders like me – people with two cars with different MPG are now stymied. There are various time-calculation options, and, if done carefully, you need never be late. You can even decide how much traffic will slow a journey down – the default setting is 50 per cent. One useful feature of the route calculations is the new roadblock tool. This enables a re-route to avoid bridges or roads that are closed, or roads you don’t like. The one feature I didn’t get to try out was the GPS link that tracks your progress using the Global Positioning Satellite system. One for the professionals obviously, but if any GPS manufacturers are reading this, I’d love to try it out.

OUR VERDICT

Route 66 2000 is still not perfect – it has its quirks and people will always have their favourite routes. There are now even more features to recommend this product, though, and a commercial traveller would find this invaluable. Motoring holiday-makers and day-trippers will also get much from this product. For the price, which remains £29, it’s a fantastic deal.

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