It’s easy to review route planning software without ever leaving the comfort of your posterior. However, anyone who has battled with some of the, ahem, ‘less accurate’ online route planning resources will appreciate that this doesn’t actually help when you come to use the things. So, approaching the 2003 edition of AA’s Milemaster Plus, we undertook a real world test, going on several car journeys entirely by following the directions that the software gave us. Fortunately, we had a suitable stock of Ginster’s pasties just in case anything went wrong.
On a simple six mile jaunt to work and back, all went to plan. You’re initially presented with a big map, but after clicking on the Plan A Journey button in the top left, you’re quickly down to the nitty-gritty. A capable search function allows you to pick out your locations by name, road or postcode, and then once you’ve found the right place, you just click to add it to your route. Do the same for all stops on the journey, and the software then does its work.
Initially, you get a visual guide to your journey, but a textual route plan is a button click away, and this is in the plain English that the box cover promises. You can save this route to a Pocket PC too, should you so wish. What’s more, click the online route checker button, and the program links up to AA traffic reports to find out the current state of play on the roads. This feature didn’t work anywhere near as well, though, as it links you to the AA website and forces you to input your route data all over again.
On the longer journeys we tried, the software again behaved itself. The routes it planned passed the first major test in getting us reasonably accurately from A to B. What occasionally let the side down was the lack of detail in the directions, even when we notched the textual description detail up. Still, it got us there, and that’s arguably the most important thing.
The program is good at citing places of interest, tracking the costs of a journey and even helping you find a car park. It doesn’t do it with the same level of polish as Microsoft’s embellished Autoroute, nor does its remit extend beyond the borders of the United Kingdom – although there are several UK & Europe alternatives on the market. But if your focus is just on the UK, then Milemaster Plus 2003 is easy enough to get around and produces information you can genuinely use.
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