viaGPS – Street Navigation for Magellan Triton 1500 & 2000
Owners of the Magellan Triton 1500 and 2000 series who have wished for routable maps finally have a solution with ViaGPS from the Croatian company Mireo. The company provided me with an SD memory card containing Mireo viaGPS version 3.1 software and release 2009.06 maps of the US and Canada from TeleAtlas.
Unlike Garmin’s proprietary operating system, the Magellan Triton series is based on the Windows CE platform. Although not officially supported by Magellan, it is possible to completely bypass the Triton’s navigation software and boot the unit directly into a third party program.
This capability of Windows CE navigation devices has been exploited by several grassroots projects, the most popular of which, “MioPocket” can be used to “unlock” a Windows CE personal navigation device in order to run alternative software such as iGo or OziExplorer. Like ViaGPS, these packages all take advantage of an undocumented Windows CE feature that looks for a specially named executable file on a memory card at startup. If found, the normal boot procedure is bypassed and control of the unit is transferred to the executable file on the memory card. In the case of the Magellan Triton, this special filename is “ToCopy.exe”.
Upon inserting the memory card and pressing the power button, my Triton booted into the ViaGPS software after the initial splash screen and was immediately ready for road navigation. The ViaGPS program continues to run until you choose “Exit” from the menu, at which point Triton then re-boots into the native Magellan software.
Screen Layout and Performance
The main screen has an attractive layout and provides excellent control over the map view. In addition to the usual zoom buttons, up/down buttons in the lower left corner allow you to change the angle of your perspective view. In the most extreme view, the horizon line is visible in the distance through the mist. Pressing the down arrow tilts your perspective downward until you finally reach a two-dimensional map view.
In the lower right corner another pair of buttons allow you to rotate the point of view through 360 degrees. A final button is used to switch between North-up and track-up. My Mio c520 had similar controls and I always liked this feature which neither Garmin nor TomTom offer. While navigating a route a small window appears in the upper left corner of the screen to preview your next turn while data on your ETA and mileage appears across the top of the screen.
Tapping the bar at the bottom of the screen cycles between the map, an analog speedometer and a satellite page. A button at the bottom left lets you view route details, insert via points, stop the route and other navigation functions. The button on the bottom right brings you to the main menu, including the exit (quit) command.
The software seemed very responsive on the Triton, moving the view smoothly and performing searches quickly. When driving, my route was quickly recalculated when I missed a turn. Voice guidance worked well through the Triton’s built-in speaker, which can also be muted if desired. I did experience one crash while searching for an address.
The program runs in landscape mode on the Triton, although an image on Mireo’s website also shows it in portrait orientation. I could not figure out how to switch to portrait view myself, which wasn’t an issue since I like landscape view anyway. The Triton’s hardware buttons are mostly inoperative although sometimes the menu or cursor button seemed to have an effect. However, in map view, the cursor buttons scroll the map although they are still oriented as though the unit were in portrait mode, so pressing the right cursor button scrolled the map down. Mireo says a software update will include full hardware button support.
I used viaGPS to create a route from my home near Mays Landing, New Jersey to my office in downtown Philadelphia. Calculation was speedy and ViaGPS estimated that the 55-mile trip would take 1 hour and 5 minutes. For comparison purposes, I used a Nuvi 205 to create the same route. Calculation speed was comparable and the Nuvi estimated 57 minutes for a 55-mile trip. The routes were very similar, with slight differences in downtown Philadelphia. From my personal experience, I would not have chosen either route, but I am using my own familiarity with the area and knowledge of traffic conditions. Neither time would be reasonable for a rush hour commute, but at night I think the 1:05 time estimate from the Triton is pretty accurate. The Nuvi’s 57 minutes estimate seemed overly optimistic.
While the directions that viaGPS generated were quite logical, they seemed very Spartan to me. Turning into the entrance of the Atlantic City Expressway, the Triton said, “Turn right towards Philadelphia. Go 34.9 miles”. At that same turn, the Nuvi told me, “Right on Atlantic City Expy (Toll) West”. Closer to Philadelphia, the Triton instructed me to “Take the highway exit towards Camden. Go 5.5 miles” while the Nuvi said “Exit 2 right to I-676W/Camden”. In both cases (as well as others), the Nuvi seemed to provide a little more information on what to look for. It would also have been nice if the Triton warned that the Atlantic City Expressway was a toll road. This is not a big deal though, and the software obviously was aware of this fact because when I set it to avoid Toll Roads, it picked another route.
Searching for gas stations along the route, the Triton only found 8 between my home and Philadelphia; kind of surprising for a 55-mile trip. The same search on the Nuvi 205 yielded 52 gas stations. I did a little better when searching for restaurants along the way – the Triton found 99 while the Nuvi only found 32, although it limited its search to the first 30 miles of the trip.
Likes and Dislikes
I found a few problems with the software, but they are really issues having to do with the Triton hardware and the unsupported used of Windows CE more than problems with the program itself. The program lets you choose between day and night modes, but there is no brightness control for the screen. The LCD runs at full brightness the whole time the program is active, which will quickly drain AA batteries for handheld use. It would also be nice to run the screen a bit dimmer after dark. But again, this is a common issue with software running under Windows CE on platforms that were not intended to run alternative navigation programs.
Perhaps a bigger problem is that you really need to use a stylus to operate all the program features, unless you have very little fingers. This could be a problem while driving. Once more, this is really an issue with the small screen on the Triton and not viaGPS.
But I liked the software and would have also enjoyed testing it on a platform with a bigger screen that is better suited to auto usage. The company says they have the software working on the Magellan CrossOver GPS, so I wanted to try it on my Magellan Roadmate 1700 or Maestro 5310. The Roadmate was not an option as it only has a micro SD card slot and the software is distributed on a full sized card with copy protection. The program started up on the Maestro 5310, and then crashed during the loading process. After consulting their software engineer, Mireo determined this was caused by Magellan’s failure to support a Windows CE function to determine whether the SD card serial number matches the program registration.
I was however able to run viaGPS on my HP iPAQ 310. The iPAQ is a bit of an oddity since it has a very high resolution (800×480) screen in a small form factor. The program’s 3d view was very impressive at this resolution, but all the text and buttons became too small to easily read and use. Performance was also poor, presumably because the much larger display area needed to be updated.
Is it for you?
If you own a Triton 1500 or 2000 and need road navigation software, ViaGPS is the solution you have been waiting for. But you will also need to ask yourself whether the Triton is the right platform to use in the car. If you’re traveling and trying to reduce your number of gadgets, or if you’re on a bicycle/motorcycle and need a waterproof/shockproof unit, then viaGPS is a good solution.
Ironically however, a BizRate search for the Nuvi 205 (as used in the route comparison above) yielded a price of $90 or less at 4 different vendors. Check Nuvi 205 prices at BizRate
This makes viaGPS a bit of a tough sell at the US price of $89. Currently, viaGPS is only sold directly by Mireo so I was not able to search for a better price. You also need to consider the additional costs of an auto mount and power cable when using your Triton in the car.
Nevertheless, the program works well and fulfills its promise of full routing capabilities on your Triton with Teleatlas maps. If that’s what you need then viaGPS is for you!
- ViaGPS BE USA+Canada Premium: $88.99
- ViaGPS BE USA+Canada+Mexico Premium: $124.99