The next program on my review list is NavGPS Basic / NavGPS Pro series of software. Both versions looked pretty cool on their website so I again was hopeful this could be a viable option.
I was a little intimidated by the install process as this wasn’t as “turn-key” as PocketFMS, but I finally got it installed and working. Here’s how I did it. The download page offers three different versions for the Pocket PC platform, luckily the first one for the ‘ARM/XScale” processor is the correct one for the Mio C320. You then need to be running your Mio just like a Pocket PC. So, you’ll need have installed and be running “PocketMio” on your Mio and then “activesync” on your computer and install through that. (I’ll post separate instructions on how to turn your Mio into a fully functioning Pocket PC later). Anyway, when you install the NavGPS package through activesync, it may also throw up a message stating the installed application may be incompatible, but allows you to continue. Obviously do continue and everything will install fine and work fine (clearly it is compatible). Once installed, the program will load and ask for your registration info. If you are just trying the software for 30 days, you can leave it empty (which is what I did).
Running the program the first time it looked very promising. The software had a hard time finding the GPS unit automatically, but if you go into the preferences and set the GPS port to “Com 2” and the Speed to “57600” it runs fine. The program has many of the same features as Pocket FMS and other high-end aviation GPS programs. See their site for the full details on the Pro version. The one GREAT thing I noticed right off the bat is that the program ran a LOT faster than Pocket FMS. It still wasn’t blazing/instant, but things were reasonable this time. Also (and this is very good), when the screen redrew itself after a zoom in/out, it would have the airspace and airports/fixes draw first (almost instantly). The topography and ground detail would come in shortly after (if you have the Pro version). THIS I could live with and made complete sense. I don’t know if they planned for this, but I definitely like it.
The only major negative is that the software is definitely created for a “standard” pocket PC, using a stylus/pen and supporting hardware buttons. Obviously the Mio has none, so the shortcuts you could assign to hardware buttons are lost here. Furthermore, many of the on-screen menus and buttons are way too small to click with your fingers (especially during a flight). You’d definitely need to use a pen/stylus to perform the actions you need.
Bottom line is that this is definitely a solid application. Hopefully future versions will be a little more “finger-friendly”, but I’m going leave this one installed and test it in the air on my next flight. The standard version is $99 and the pro is $234, both reasonably priced. I will also play more with the Pro versus Basic versions to see which really has the features I personally would need to use.
Test Specs: NavGPS Pro version 4.5 (and NavGPS Basic version 2.5) tested on February 26, 2009 on Mio C320.
Pros: Lots of features, good data, good maps, basic version would get the job done.
Cons: Buttons/menus too small to operate with just fingers.