== OVERVIEW ==
The Go!Explore GPS add-on developed by Nav N Go finally transforms the PSP from a big black brick of annoyance to an indispensable tool by utilising the PSP's USB port to connect an external receiver and the supplied software to allow for route mapping and navigation.
The unit is supplied in a surprisingly large box, due mainly to the inclusion of a mount for using the GPS in the car. Also included are the GPS receiver
itself, the UMD containing the Go!Explore software and an in-car charging cable
for the PSP.
The GPS receiver itself is a very small affair comprising a Mini-USB plug and a thumbscrew to securely attach it to the top of your PSP. A very sturdy hinge then connects the actual GPS receiver chip housed in a white plastic square emblazoned with the legend "GPS" just so the less intelligent gamer is left in no doubt as to what the device is.
The car mount
is a work of genius in tough black plastic featuring a huge sucker to attach it securely to the windscreen of your car and a large knob which allows you to tilt and swivel the PSP to your desired angle of view before tightening to hold it in place. The mount comes supplied with spacers to make it compatible with the PSP Slim and Lite
although it is also holds the original PSP
The power cable comes with miles of thick cable so even people with 10-foot wide dashboards will have plenty of cable to allow them to position the PSP anywhere they like on their windscreen (hint: keep the supplied twist ties to prevent the slack cable turning into spaghetti soup). The cable converts the standard 12V from the car's lighter socket to the 5V required to run and charge your PSP.
With the GPS receiver connected to the top of your PC
, insert the Go!Explore UMD disc and start as you would any other PSP game. As always you may be prompted to update the firmware on your PSP in order to use the software. Initially you will be asked to set various parameters such as language, and you will also be asked whether you want to copy some or all of the map data to your memory stick
. Copying the map data to memory
stick drastically improves the speed of the program as it minimises the amount of times the program has to refer back to the UMD disk which is much slower than reading direct from the memory stick. You will however need nearly 290MB free on your memory stick.
The software is fairly intuitive ("Find & Go" to select your destination address, "Explore Map" to scroll around your current position, "My Data" which allows you mark favourite destination addresses, places, routes etc and "Settings" to configure the display, sound, route and regional settings etc) and should not present any difficulties for those who have used GPS systems before. Navigation can be carried out by street address, post code or even latitude and longitude if you are so inclined and to date I have not yet had the system take me in the worng direction of display any of the mapping anomalies so gleefully reported in the popular press of late. You can also select from a pre-populated list of places of interest such as petrol stations, hospitals, shopping centres etc.
The actual display of routes and your position on a map is very clear and helpful and it is possible to zoom in
and out of the display to show further down the road. A really cool feature of the navigation display is the ability to show road markings and lane selections in advance. Those who have been across the QEII Bridge at Dartford will know the importance of lane selection and this software will show you which lane to use in advance - brilliant! Another funky feature is the 3D rendering of buildings in certain areas of the country, such as central London
which is quite cool but probably useless as you try and navigate the traffic past the Houses of Parliament!
The voice prompts are clear and accurate, although the option to output the audio through the car's stereo to increase volume would be nice. I have tried this but failed because of the need for two lighter sockets - one for the PSP and one for the radio transmitter.
Lacking a touchscreen, the PSP platform is quite disadvantaged against most modern GPS systems because all data entry
must be performed using a limited number of buttons navigating around an onscreen keyboard, unlike say TomTom which allows you to select the virtual buttons directly on the screen. As the PSP is designed to be used with both hands, navigating around the screen and making selections with one finger is quite clumsy and downright dangerous when driving.
The screen mount holds the PSP so tightly that when you try to push the console into it, the PSP powers button is moved - quite annoying if you have calculated your destination and are then mounting the unit so you can drive and it is then switched off. Also of some annoyance is that the memory stick slot is inaccessible once the PSP is mounted.
Having both original and Slim and Lite versions of the PSP in my household
, I would question whether the Slim and Lite version is robust enough to be used for handheld GPS navigation
, although if it is only to be used in the car there should not be a problem.
Another minor frustration comes with the use of navigation co-ordinates; my family are avid geocachers but the only time we tried to use the Go!Explore system, we were defeated because the system does not take you to the specified co-ordinates, instead it takes you the nearest point on a road.
In trying to cover the world market, Nav N Go have had to cut a few corners to make the system as compatible as possible and perhaps the most major annoyance will be for UK users. By default Go!Explore is designed for navigation in metres and kilometres although there is the option to change the unit of measurement to yards and miles. Great! But... although the figures on the display are shown in yards, the voice prompts remain in metres; the display shows 800yds to the turning on the left but the voice prompt warns that there are 300 metres to the next left. This does mean that the driver has to spend a little more time looking at the display while they drive unless they are fully metricated.
The Go!Explore system has breathed life into my otherwise useless PSP (it was a present and I'm not much of a gamer) by converting it into a useful tool rather than remaining an "entertainment
" device for the braindead. In terms of navigational accuracy it has never failed me in over a year of use and I find the maps to be clear and the voice prompts to be clear, concise and timely. The addition of cool features like 3D rendering of local landmarks is quite cool and the display of road markings in advance is brilliant.
Some of the niggles mentioned above are actually quite major - although the lack of a touchscreen on the PSP is not the fault of Nav N Go, it does make entering an address more difficult than other systems and completely impossible when driving. Changing routes or settings on the go is dangerous to both the user and anybody else using the road because of the extra attention required to navigate around the screen to select options and buttons. The incomplete application
of imperial units for voice prompts is also quite annoying - particularly to someone who does not use the system on a daily basis and has not had a chance to get used to the problem. On the upside, anyone who has a GPS system
from Blaupunkt, Pioneer, LG, Asus, Clarion or HP may well have come into contact with the Nav N Go software and may well already be used to its foibles. I have not yet found out whether it is possible to upgrade the maps/software
over time (because road layouts DO change). That said, it is
possible to buy maps for other countries as an add-on from the Playstation store.
The GPS receiver is sturdy and suitable to be used when navigating an unknown town on foot although I would not recommend this with a Slim and Lite because I believe their build quality to be far inferior to the original units.
However, at approximately £100, the Go!Explore system is more expensive than most dedicated entry-level GPS devices
produced by the more well-known brands. Although the Go!Explore system is pretty good, I would not recommend buying a PSP just to use it as a GPS system. If your PSP is gathering dust, this might be the addition you need to return it to use, but otherwise you can probably get a better deal elsewhere.
Go!Explore @ Playstation.com: http://uk.playstation.com/psp/hardware/accessories/detail/item101918/Go!Explore/
Nav N Go: http://www.navngo.com/
Go!Explore manual: http://uk.playstation.com/media/102654/GoExplore_online_manual_Uk.pdf
Go!Explore additional maps: http://uk.playstation.com/psp/news/articles/detail/item101938/Map-packing/
© ben-lloyd. Please note that this review may appear on other websites
under the same user name.