GPS manufacturers are finding that their stiffest competition is coming not from other GPS makers, but from pay-per-use services available on many cell phones. In the same vein, Archos is givingArchos 605users an economical way to turn their favorite handheld into a navigation tool with its GPS In-Car Holder, which effectively turns the PMP into a dashboard GPS.
The Archos GPS In-Car Holder is both a hardware and software solution, providing GPS reception, the map data you need for navigating, and a reliable mount to keep your directions at eye level. That already gives it an advantage over cell phone services, which typically don't include a mount. The GPS In-Car Holder's substantial yet glove compartment-friendly mount actually contains the GPS chipset.
Archos users will have one navigation difficulty that people with standard plug-in devices don't have: The Archos has unlabeled buttons to the right of the screen, for controlling such functions as zooming in and out and going back one screen. Without any labeling, remembering the buttons' functions was a pain.
Rubber spacers included in the package let you create just the right fit for whichever version of the 605 you're using. We did our testing with a 30GB 605 WiFi. The first step is to load the map data from the included DVD to your device. It takes less than 10 minutes and requires a computer (the DVD is compatible with both Macs and PCs). It's a simple process, although we had to go through it twice because of an unexplained error the first time. The map data takes up about 2GB of space on the 605.
Once the software is loaded, you'll find a GPS icon on the Archos desktop. The 605 includes a 4.3-inch touchscreen, so it feels like using any basic plug-in navigator. The menu structure is simple and easy to access. A big icon interface lets you set a destination, browse maps, change settings, access traffic data, or set a route. You can also add points of interest (POIs) and use helpful extras such as a world clock, calculator, and unit converter. A country info section gives jet-setters crucial (if obvious) data such as which side of the road to drive on when abroad.
Driving with the Archos GPS is a pleasant and straightforward experience: Entering an address is quick, and the included maps are a little plain but colored boldly enough that you can see your route quickly. The map view is organized well, with good turn indicators and street labeling. The program offers only one English-speaking voice, and unfortunately, it doesn't provide street name pronunciation. Too bad, because that's one of the more helpful extras.
The biggest downside to the Archos GPS is the 6 million-POI database, which can be difficult to use. The on-screen layout is dominated by a keyboard, providing little room to view results. Also, the results list doesn't give addresses, which makes choosing a destination difficult. The menu offers two POI searches, one for looking up destinations in a particular city and one for searching near your location. Running a search was often slow, and we found strange omissions in the database, such as not finding any places of worship in Jersey City, N.J. Rerouting after a missed turn was slow, at around 10 seconds.
Archos 605 GPS Verdict
If you're thinking of buying both the Archos 605 ($249 to $329 at Amazon) and the GPS attachment just for the purposes of finding your way around, you'd be better served with a dedicated GPS device such as theTomTom Go 930. If you already own an Archos 605, this $129 device is a useful accessory that will provide reliable navigation for less than the cost of a budget plug-in model. While it's not loaded with extras, it has all you need to get you to your destination.