King of the road?

29th March 1996 at 00:00
Microsoft Autoroute Express, Software for Psion 3a or Acorn Pocket Book personal organiser. Pounds 69.95. Psion plc, Alexander House, 85 Frampton Street, London NW8 8NQTel: 0171 262 5580

You're driving along a road in the middle of the night, when your mobile phone rings and you get an urgent message to go to a place at the other end of the country. How can you get there as directly as possible? You're about to enter gadget heaven, because this sudden emergency has let you use Microsoft Autoroute Express, a snazzy piece of software for the Psion or Acorn palmtop computer which calculates the best road route between any two points in Britain or Ireland. Once the distance and journey time have been displayed, you can then see the route on maps of variable detail on screen.

But what's wrong with an ordinary map? It never tells you how long the journey will take and can't produce a list of all the roads that you have to take to reach your destination, with the appropriate sign-posting and directions.

Microsoft Autoroute Express works. When tested, the predicted lengths of journey times were accurate, with the estimates taking into account the time of day and heavy traffic.

Overall the maps are easy to follow, but if you used the system regularly, you should print out the routes rather than check as you drive. Microsoft Autoroute Express, however, may be in that zone of technology that impresses your friends in the pub but rarely gets used.

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