Based on a suggestion by one of our readers, Gary Oberbrunner, we decided to give Noni GPSPlot a go. It’s a GPS related software that allows you to track your location/position. Not only that, you can also save these tracks for reference later or even uploaded onto your computer for viewing. There are many uses for this software which we will cover later as well. GPSPlot is very similar to ViTO’s SmartNavigator, which we had covered earlier, but how does it fare against other software out there?
When you first launch the software, it looks just like any other tracking software. But go into the options and that is where the similarity ends. Rather than use icons to represent the various settings, GPSPlot opts for buttons with text in them. It’s not really much of a big deal because the labels for each button clearly explains where it leads to. This user-interface sets the tone for the rest of the software: Straightforward and to the point.
Tracking is what this software primarily focuses on so we decided to check this out first. Besides being able to Save and Load other tracks, you can also use them to track a previous track, a useful feature for those trekking in forests might find. And you can change the color of the various tracks for better usability.
The main screen is where all the action takes place. While you can customize your hard keys for the various shortcuts, the default ones seem well thought. Left and Right zooms out and in respectively while Up adds a new point and Down goes to the previous point. The lower part of the screen shows different components and you can easily scroll through the various options by tapping on it.
When you are done with the tracking, you can export the track to something more usable, such as Google Earth tracks and upload it to your computer. Other formats include GPX, Texte and NMEA.
This is something like tracking but with an end point in mind. For example, if you parked your car in a huge parking lot, finding it later might be a big problem. Or if you took your boat out the first time, find your way back to the habor can be a daunting task if you are not familiar with the area.
These problems can be easily solved by having a point as your destination. The next time you need to look for that car or habor, launch GPSPlot and set it up to lead you to that point. You’ll get there in no time. This feature will also prove useful to tourists who want to go sightseeing. All they need would be co-ordinates of the place they would like to visit and let GPSPlot guide you there.
Even if you are unable to take the most direct route (which is what the software plans for), any deviation from it will be taken into account so you still end up at your chosen destination. It can even alert you when you are nearing your destination with an audible alert so you can keep a lookout for it.
Trekking around using a blank screen can be useful because you do not have extra items on your screen to distract you from your activity. However, there are those who would prefer to track using maps and this option is also available. You will of course have to set up the map before it can be used by the program but the good thing is that, the developers have a tutorial on how you can create your own maps as well.
Picture courtesy of Noni GPSPlot site
If you think that creating a custom map is too difficult, then think again. All you need is a JPEG file and some co-ordinates to anchor the map down, both of which you can get from Google Earth. When creating your own map, do be accurate as any deviations would apply to your route as well and may cause you to go off course (as it did for me one).
The only problem with using maps is that the maps would be loaded onto program memory and this might cause problems to some users. The tutorial does give you a guide as to how much space is required for different map sizes so you can create one that fits your limitations. It would be great if the map could be run from the storage card as this would solve the memory issue but until this happens, do keep your memory usage in mind (no pun intended).
There are several other useful features which deserve mentioning. For one, can have an audible alert when you are nearing a point or destination. This makes navigation much easier because you do not have to keep looking at your screen to see if have reached it. It also allows you to save battery life by giving you the option turn off your screen until you are nearing the point.
The other thing is that it also has a night mode which is very useful for those doing their activities at night. This mode uses a dark background so that you will not be a beacon and scare off others, or attract attention to yourself. However, this skin only applies to the main screen and if you were to go into Options, it will be the usual white background and black text.
Considering this software is free, it doesn’t hurt to install GPSPlot on your device. You never know when you will need it but when you do, you will be glad it was there. The user-interface is more of a love-hate than anything but it does get the job done. Some may argue that the use of icons might serve a better and more intuitive role for the user but this is arguable. GPSPlot has a wealth of features and functions, some of which you will never us. But for those features that you do use, chances are you will be able to customize it to your liking. Download the software here.
What are your experiences with Noni GPSPlot?
Every Friday is Free Software Of The Week that we hope would make your mobile experience even better. There are a lot of great software out there in the Windows Mobile world with more being added to the list every day. Alot of these software are actually free ones but they do not get the recognition they deserve because of the price tag attached to them. However, that is not usually the case and our highlight of these programs aims to show you why.