The $350 package comes with a Bluetooth GPS antenna (works with any Bluetooth-enabled PDA running Pocket PC 2002 or Windows Mobile 2003, first and second editions), a car charger, and a vent mount. Alk also offers several different packages, including a software-only package for $199 and a CompactFlash bundle for $299. The Bluetooth-based antenna, which measures 0.7 by 2.0 by 3.5 inches and weighs 2.1 ounces, uses a SiRFstarIIe/LP chipset that supports up to 12 channels. The antenna includes a rechargeable battery that takes only one hour to charge and is rated for six hours. We managed to get slightly less than eight hours out of one charge. Despite the good battery life, it would have been nice if Alk had provided an AC power supply so that the antenna could be charged at home or the office. (This accessory is available for $30 via Alk).
To get started, you simply enter the street address of your destination. CoPilot calculates the route and provides turn-by-turn directions from your current location. CoPilot interfaces with Pocket Outlook, so you can even pick addresses from your Outlook contacts--a nice feature. You also have the option of avoiding specific roads or requesting a detour to the provided route. If you make a wrong turn or miss your exit, CoPilot automatically recalculates your route. Finally, if you need to plan a pit stop, CoPilot makes it easy with a plentiful database of 3 million points of interest.
Designed with driver safety in mind, CoPilot's visual directions are simple, displaying the next turn and the remaining distance in bright yellow text on a purple background. When you are going less than 10mph or approaching a turn, CoPilot switches to map mode to show your next turn overlaid on a street map. With the voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions, however, you never have to look at the display. We highly recommend choosing the text-to-speech option when you install the software, as it provides specific instructions, such as "Turn right onto Broadway and continue for a quarter mile," as opposed to the prerecorded voice option, which provides more generic guidance, such as "Turn right ahead."
We tested CoPilot in Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey and got excellent results. Satellite acquisition was almost instantaneous and held steady, although, like many GPS receivers, CoPilot had trouble when we drove through tunnels. Though it got us to our destinations, we didn't always agree with the logic behind some of its routing choices. In some cases, it instructed us to make several turns on small side streets when one turn on a major thoroughfare could get us to the same end point. Also, the directions provided at complicated intersections, such as tangled highway interchanges, can be confusing.