A password will be e-mailed to you.

Clearly, I am a Gadget guy. I love the latest and greatest in the world of Electronics. Even I, however, would love to simplify my life and combine the functions I crave in less devices. No where is this more true than in my car. Alk Technologies has introduced a potential solution for me – and millions of others – CoPilot 6 Q Edition. If my Motorola Q can really be my phone, email, calendar and GPS device – I might have truly found Nirvana. Read on to see if I did. I love the convenience of GPS and I need the convenience of my cell phone with me. For about a year, I settled on a compromise – I have a Pocket PC running my GPS and also have my Cell phone for hands free, email, etc.

I tried to do this with my formerly beloved Treo – but to no avail. Since the Treo can only handle one Bluetooth connection at a time – I couldn’t connect to my hands free and my GPS. There was no really good hard-wired solution that helped – so I went back to the Pocket PC for GPS and the Treo for all other features.

CoPilot 6 for the Q offers the hope that I might, finally, be able to leave a device at home. Let’s see how it fared.

Here is the official line from Alk Technologies:

Plug-and-Drive CoPilot Live 6 GPS navigation software including our award-winning CoPilot Bluetooth GPS receiver with the SiRFstarIII chipset for the fastest time-to-first-fix; software and street-level map data for the U.S. and Canada pre-loaded on a 1 GB MiniSD card.

What’s Included:

This package includes a pre-loaded SD card that makes setting up your GPS nav system as easy as inserting the MiniSD card into your Motorola. The full CoPilot Live software CD set is included so that you can load our Desktop Trip Planner to your personal computer (optional).

* 1 GB MiniSD card pre-loaded with software and street-level map data for the U.S. and Canada
* CoPilot Bluetooth GPS receiver with the SiRFstarIII chipset
* In-vehicle mounting hardware
* 12-volt in-vehicle power adapter
* Printed Quick Start Guide
* 1 Install Disc
* 1 Data Disc with street level detail for the U.S. and Canada
* User’s Guide available as a PDF in desktop software

ADVANCED FEATURES INCLUDE:

* NEW! Enhanced 3D Map Display with Mileage Markers, Moving Maps, and turn arrows that highlight the way ahead
* NEW! Customizable Routing Profiles give you complete control over what kind of roads CoPilot prefers (highways, local roads, etc.)
* NEW! Ability to create and share your own voice or download new voice sets as they become available
* NEW! Change Voices on the fly between the included male and female or select from any additional voice sets you have created/downloaded
* NEW! Easier Points of Interest Importing and support for widely available 3rd party OV2 formats
* NEW! Fully compatible with the Windows Mobile 5 operating system
* IMPROVED! RV Routing uses 12’6′ height restrictions on highways and overall routing has been refined based on user feedback
* IMPROVED! Automatic Bluetooth GPS set-up avoids the need for complex configuration

BLUETOOTH GPS RECEIVER:

Quick Hit Specifications:
* Chipset: SiRFstarIII
* Channels: 20 Channels all-in-view tracking
* WAAS-enabled: Yes
* Connection Type: Bluetooth
* Position Update: 1/sec
* Accuracy: Autonomous 10m, SBAS 5m
* Time to First Fix:
o Reacquision: 0.1 sec.
o Hot Start: 1 sec., on average
o Warm Start: 15 sec., on average
o Cold Start: 35 sec., on average
* Battery: Lithium-Ion rechargeable
* Charge Life: 6 hours, on average
* Time to Charge: 1 hour, on average

Set-up and installation:

CoPilot Live was completely effortless to install since it now can be purchased with the entire program and all the maps of North America on a Mini SD card. Why don’t all GPS software programs do this? CoPilot does ship with the CD if, for some reason, this method of install is preferred. I just put the Mini SD card in my ‘Q’ and installed the necessary files.

I plugged in the included GPS receiver and turned it on. Then, I started the application on the Q. The Q looked for the receiver, found it automatically and locked in on our position – all in under one minute!

Navigating with CoPilot Q:

I was skeptical of the non-touch screen Q being easy to use for navigational purposes. That skepticism was quickly put to rest. The two ‘soft’ keys take the user to the menu screens and then are used to select the option. The center button on the D-pad also works for item selection. Navigating with CoPilot Live begins with the menu screen:

Using the menu screen, the user selects ‘address’ or other options and CoPilot prompts the user to enter a zip code, city or state. After that, street name and numbers are inputted and you are on your way. One of the options is that once a destination is set, it can be saved as a ‘Favorite’ for easy retrieval in the future.

One of the great features is the address book look-up. Other GPS programs say that this feature is included – but is more often than not quite cumbersome. On the CoPilot Q edition – it worked very well. I did need to navigate through my address book – typing in the name did not immediately bring it up – but it worked fine, nonetheless.

CoPilot Q offers the option of a very nice female voice (not computer sounding) or male voice to assist you by notifying you of upcoming turns, traffic circles and when it is time to take a U-turn. As you get closer to your turn, the software prompts you more frequently so you don’t miss your turn.

CoPilot offers some nice features for navigation – the most customizable is the way the navigation is displayed on the screen. The user can opt for a ‘safety’ view or a 3D view. One of the more interesting features, that is really a matter of personal taste, is the ‘Safety’ feature. With most GPS software, you can continually follow your position on the map and see the names of all the streets you pass. CoPilot takes a different tact.

If you are on a particular road for longer than a mile, the screen only displays a large message like ‘Turn right on X street in 3 miles.’ The philosophy seems to be to make the GPS less intrusive and less likely to take the driver’s eye off the road. Important features like the time you will arrive at your destination still appear on the screen. When you get closer to your destination or your next turn – the screen shifts back into map view (2D.)

I kind of like to always see where I am going – but I do understand this safety feature. I usually opted for the 3-D view and would sometimes zoom in or out as desired.

Options:

CoPilot Q is full of many user defined options to make the program even more useful. Options for routing, guidance, POI alerts and language and speech can all be changed according to the user’s taste.

If you would prefer to maximize highways – that is easy to do. If you want the most direct route – CoPilot can handle than as well.

You can set waypoints, find locations by intersections or use the robust POI directory to find someplace to visit or eat.

I tried the trusted ‘look for a Chinese restaurant close by’ test and the CoPilot Q edition passed with flying colors.

You can view a larger map, change your routing options, set POI alerts and use the CoPilot Live features all through the options menu.

Live Features:

The Alk website explains the features of the Live features of CoPilot:
LIVE FEATURES INCLUDE:
Powerful navigation features give you the freedom to explore. Real-time Communication gives you the peace of mind that comes with always being connected. Live features are optional and are only usable when you have a wireless internet connection on your Motorola Q*
* Text Messages sent from home or office to the vehicle include large, customizable, one-touch responses to ensure driver safety.
* Real-Time Tracking of your travels by friends, family and loved ones over a secure Internet connection.
* Itinerary Updates including new stops and revised destinations, allow you to coordinate changes to your plans without having to pull over and enter new information.
* Communication now includes Live vehicle tracking via the Internet (live.alk.com)
* To use Live Features you will need a data service plan through your wireless carrier.

Conclusions:

CoPilot 6 Q edition is my new GPS of choice. I have retired my Dell Axim (which used both the CoPilot Live program and the Arkon MobiNavigator.) I can safely say that this is the most complete, easiest and most powerful add-on GPS program I have used for Windows Mobile.

Here is the best part: I can have my Q paired with my hands free and still connect to the GPS. The beauty of Windows Mobile is that you can have more than one active Bluetooth connection. Palm, are you listening?

To make this system even sweeter- if you are connected to a hands free system – the GPS commands come through that handsfree connection. Just how sweet is this? Well, my hands free connection is my Car Stereo. When phone calls come in, the music stops and the call comes through the speakers of the car. Now, when I need to make a turn – the same thing happens. The Q sends the voice of CoPilot through my stereo and I concentrate on where I am driving.

While skeptical of no touch screen commands I found I actually preferred the way the Q uses the program. The SiRFstarIII receiver was accurate and the voice commands were perfect – very useful but not intrusive or annoying. Most importantly, after navigating several trips and destinations I can safely say that CoPilot 6 got me everywhere I needed to go. Absolutely get the Mini SD card with the entire program and maps – no more loading maps into your Q – just setup and go.

Final Grade: A

Pros: Intuitive, easy to use, a cinch to set up, nice 3D perspective, speech options and good safety features. ‘Live’ features set it apart from the competition. The first truly successful GPS add on for a Smartphone.

Cons: The included Car charger for the Q did not charge the Smartphone. We have learned that this is a Motorola issue – not a CoPilot one and that it is being addressed.
The full package, including the great GPS receiver and the Mini SD card as well as CD based software is $349.00. CoPilot 6 Q Edition is also available without the GPS receiver for $249.00 from www.alk.com

Written by Gary