Route 66: 2001-2002 various versions

Introduction

The people at Route 66 have been making maps for years now. It’s difficult to see how things could be improved further, because the last version worked pretty well – but they’ve managed it.

Having a computer-stored map is convenient, but I was wondering how the Route 66 products could compete with the online competition. After all, streetmap.co.uk and multimap.com offer maps of Britain for free, so why would you buy Route 66? Actually streetmap.co.uk doesn’t offer route planning, and multimap.com can be a bit flaky on directions.

There are three new versions of Route 66. Route Britain offers street-level mapping and routes for Britain, and Route Europe offers city-to-city maps for the whole of Europe. Route Europe Pro offers street-to-street directions for Europe – though, curiously, it doesn’t cover the same territory as the non-Pro version.

There are new features in all of the versions, and the maps are up to date. The Route Britain version now gives live traffic reports when you have a Net connection.

One thing that has been improved in all versions is searching for a street. The previous version used to try to pre-empt your search by throwing up matches as you type. This actually slowed the search, because it was doing so much work to pre-empt you. Now it won’t search for a place until you hit return.

One thing that is missing from Route 66 is a proper postcode search. It will work on the first three digits of a postcode – so it will find WC1 without a problem – but if you type in a full postcode it won’t find anything. This is something that the online map services do easily, so Route 66 should add it next time around.

One of the most confusing things about the different versions of Route 66 is the varying coverage. Route Britain is fairly straightforward, though it only covers Britain – not Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man. Route Europe, which has main roads but not all city streets, covers all of Europe and some territories beyond Europe. It includes Iceland and a load of other places I didn’t think were in Europe. Just when I was getting to grips with this extended Europe, I looked at the Route Europe Pro. Confusingly, the Pro version has greater detail, but covers less territory. Now Russia is nowhere to be seen. In fact even Ireland isn’t on the map. Only Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have full street-level maps. Portugal, Spain, France and Italy have slightly less detail.

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