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CoPilot Live 8 review

CoPilot Live 8

Verdict

Great features and a more than capable match for competing products, but at half the price

Review Date: 24 Nov 2009

Reviewed By: Paul Ockenden

Price when reviewed: £23 (£26 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

With their large displays, built-in GPS receivers and processing power aplenty, modern smartphones make an ideal platform for running satellite navigation software – and the fact that they’re downloadable means they make a great last-minute gift.

It’s arguably on Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone where satnav software is most at home, thanks to its brilliantly clear screen and a finger-friendly touch interface. ALK has been offering its CoPilot navigation software across a number of PC, PDA and mobile phone platforms for several years now, but the iPhone version raises the stakes and offers a system that’s easy to use while also being highly configurable.

The user interface is icon-based and very intuitive. Whenever we wanted to do something, the desired option was easy to find and required just one or two finger taps. Most importantly for a navigation product, the routes on offer were good, the mapping was accurate, and the navigation directions, both onscreen and spoken, were clear and easy to understand.

The CoPilot onscreen display is comprehensive, with diagrammatic details of the next two upcoming junctions (rather than the usual one), which we found a great help when driving on unfamiliar routes. In addition, as with the other iPhone applications, CoPilot worked happily with the iPhone in either landscape or portrait mode.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few niggles, however: the version of CoPilot we tested used an ABC layout keyboard, although ALK has promised an update that will provide support for the normal iPhone Qwerty keyboard by the time you read this. We also found that the application crashed (although just once) during our two months of testing.

However, it’s easy to forgive a couple of minor glitches such as this with an application this good. It matches most of the features offered by TomTom (with the notable exception of IQ Routes), but has a few aces up its sleeves with useful facilities such as showing the cheapest nearby fuel prices, and a LiveLink facility that plots the location of friends on the map, which could be useful for journeys with several cars travelling in convoy.

And, to top it all off, CoPilot Live 8 costs only £26 including VAT, with no ongoing usage fees. When it came to picking a winner from this group of products, the choice was clear – CoPilot Live more than matches the other products in terms of features, but at half the price. It’s a great Christmas gift, and a cost-effective one, too.

Author: Paul Ockenden

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User comments

I would really like to be able to try one if these sat nav apps before buying one but no one seems to offer a trial version. I thought that's what the in app purchase feature was supposed to achieve but I can't be spending money on an app that I find I don't like. I doubt I could preview them in an Apple store either but please correct me if I'm wrong.

By mviracca on 30 Nov 2009

I recommend reading the app store reviews. I agonised between two more expensive sat nav apps before choosing CoPilot.

I've been impressed so far, it picks up signal quickly - especially when windscreen mounted (obviously). I bought a cheap universal mount from Amazon which I can use in portrait or landscape.

Full postcode input (even with no space!), saves your favourites, choice of voices, loads of ways to customise the view (2D/3D), speed camera warnings.

You can play music and sat nav through car speakers if you have a aux socket.

There's probably loads of decent features I've missed so you will have to read around to make an informed choice but it trumps my old Navman by far. (the price of this app is way cheaper than buying updated maps for an old sat nav)

PS. They have made 2 free updates to the software since I've owned it, and it seems to be smaller in size than some of the competition.

By pepperalex on 1 Dec 2009

Are you on drugs? The Copilot routes are an absolute joke ..... Unless you run a mysteryvtour business. Read the app store reviews. Navmii has much better routes but the best routes by far are on the TomTom

By teecee90 on 2 Dec 2009

What countries are included for £26? (Says he, about 40Km north of the Italian border...)

By Steve_Cassidy on 2 Dec 2009

The reviews were based (where possible) on UK versions

Steve - looks like the full spec didn't make it to the website, but where UK versions were available I did the reviews based on those.

By PaulOckenden on 7 Dec 2009

Poor software

Having got a new smartphone, I thought it would be easier and cheaper to get a sat nav software rather than a dedicated sat nav device. How wrong I was! CoPilot does not have the features that TomTom or Garmin has, such as being able to plot the fastest route whilst avoiding motorways (if motorways are avoided, CoPilot chooses the shortest route which goes through busy urban centres and such). If you choose to have street names spoken, it sounds like a poorly impersonated Stephen Hawking, and difficult to understand!

The main problem is the difficulty in getting a GPS fix, which could take several minutes to never getting a fix. There are loads of people saying the same thing on ALK blogs, and it all comes down to the type of GPS in most smartphones. Dedicated sat navs have full GPS which connect to satellites to get a fix. However, most smartphones have Assisted-GPS which needs an internet connection initially in order for CoPilot to get an approximate location fix, and then it will connect to the satellites.

Assisted-GPS is designed to find your location faster, but in my experience, it slows CoPilot down. Now if you don't want additional internet charges on your phone, then you may have your wi-fi or mobile data network turned off, and as a result, CoPilot cannot connect to the internet, and hence cannot get a GPS fix. And if you're a PAYG user like me, connecting to the mobile data network means incurring charges from the mobile company.

Despite complaining to ALK, they are not interested which means I've wasted paying for CoPilot. I've also read many people saying how the ALK customer and technical support is very poor.

I would recommend getting a dedicated sat nav rather than a smartphone sat nav, or to get something other than the useless CoPilot.

By KlingonBatleth on 11 Apr 2011

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